On Tuesday, October 17, 2023, Ali Ndume, the Chief Whip of the Senate, stormed out of the Senate chamber after a heated encounter with Senate President Godswill Akpabio. The exit was prompted by what Ndume described as “procedural infringements” during a Senate session, leaving many in attendance baffled by the abrupt departure.
Ndume’s dissatisfaction with the proceedings became evident when he invoked a point of order during the plenary to address what he believed were violations of parliamentary protocol. This led to an impromptu clash of words with the Senate President, disrupting the usual decorum of the chamber.
Akpabio’s decision not to allow Ndume to complete his speech added to the tensions and the Borno-South senator, who sought to bring attention to “procedural infringements,” was left with no choice but to leave the chamber, defying established parliamentary norms.
In a recent interview with BBC Hausa following the incident, Ndume cleared the air on the reason behind his exit. He explained that the trigger for his departure was the debate on the closure of Nigeria’s borders, which unfolded during the Senate session.
The moment occurred when Senator Kawu Sumaila proposed an urgent motion related to the closure of the border between Nigeria and Niger. Ndume described the sequence of events, stating, “At first, it was argued that the motion was not urgent, but the President of the Senate let him finish what he wanted to say.”
He continued, “After hearing the motion, it was agreed that since it is related to security, it should be suspended.”
However, Senator Ndume felt compelled to elaborate on the significance of the motion, emphasising that it fell outside the jurisdiction of the Nigerian Senate. He clarified that the border’s closure was not initiated by the President of Nigeria but rather during his tenure as the President of the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States). This, according to Ndume, granted him the authority to advocate on Nigeria’s behalf.
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“In order to address this matter, it is imperative to involve the President of our nation,” Ndume said. “But I was not afforded the opportunity to convey this message.”
Adding another layer to the situation, the clash coincided with the time of prayer, prompting Senator Ndume’s exit from the chamber. Regrettably, this led to a misinterpretation of his actions by his colleagues, and the media misrepresented the meaning behind his departure.
Senator Ali Ndume’s unexpected walkout underscores the complexities of parliamentary proceedings and the tensions that can arise when important issues are debated.