APC, PDP Battle for Soul of National Assembly

APC, PDP Battle for Soul of National Assembly

…As Lawan, Ndume Hold Ace in Hot Race for Senate Presidency The ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) and its major rival, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are locked in a battle of primacy over the leadership of the 9th National Assembly. While the APC National Chairman, Mr Adams Oshiomhole says his party is not prepared

…As Lawan, Ndume Hold Ace in Hot Race for Senate Presidency

The ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) and its major rival, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are locked in a battle of primacy over the leadership of the 9th National Assembly. While the APC National Chairman, Mr Adams Oshiomhole says his party is not prepared to share power with the PDP and can muster through with its majority membership, to produce the leadership of the two chambers, the PDP says it would field candidates for the various principal offices in the National Assembly.

Oshiomhole revealed that the APC, with about 65 Senators-elect out of 109 and 223 House of Representatives members-elect out of the 360, was in the position to make and take decisions without necessarily seeking the support of the opposition at the National Assembly.

He mocked the 15 out of the 16 APC Senators that defected to other parties saying that “Nigerians punished them”, noting that, “the one that God left was for him to entertain the house”, apparently making reference to Senator Dino Melaye.

“We are far ahead of the main opposition in the parliament. 223 out of 360 we have all the numbers required to make all the laws in the National Assembly.”

“Only one out of 16 APC senators that decamped won election, it is the way God wants to punish them for us.”

“Nigerians have decided to bless us with huge majority in the National Assembly because they want a vibrant government.”

“God has given us the numbers to support your change government so that Nigerians especially the poor can benefit.”

“We need to look inward and learn the right lesson from what happened in 2015. This time around, the strategic committees which were in the hands of opposition, we will ensure our members take charge.”

But the PDP insists it has equal stakes in the leadership of the National Assembly. “Our elected senators and members of the House of Representatives are constitutionally eligible and can seek election into any presiding offices of both chambers of the National Assembly,” the party says.

In a statement on Tuesday, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan said the position of the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives as well as the Deputy Senate President and the Deputy Speaker are not exclusively for any political party, but a constitutional right of every elected lawmaker in both chambers.

The party cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari and the Mr Oshiomhole to respect the independence of the legislature and “end their imposition plot and sowing of seeds of discord among the lawmakers,” saying such is against the national interest.

“It is therefore laughable and amounts to empty grandstanding and self-delusion for President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, to posture as if the presiding offices and Committee Chairmanship in the National Assembly are exclusive rights of the APC.”

“President Buhari and Oshiomhole should wake up to the fact that the National Assembly belongs to no political party but to all Nigerians, who exercise their control through their elected representatives.”

“The PDP, therefore, does not only have a constitutional say in the process of the emergence of the leadership of the 9th National Assembly, but will, as a matter of constitutional right, field candidates into presiding offices of both chambers, if need be.”

“The PDP wishes to remind President Buhari and Oshiomhole that the APC had in the past benefited from the provisions of section 50, with the defection of then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal from the PDP to the APC, in October 2014, without relinquishing the speakership of the House to the PDP; a development that was applauded by President Buhari, as then opposition leader as well as the APC, through its then National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed,” the party said.

A leading contender for the Senate Presidency, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume representing Borno South Senatorial District, has also flayed the Oshiomhole leadership of the APC for adopting Senator Ahmed Lawan as the party’s candidate for the position of Senate President in the 9th Senate.

Ndume who was shocked by the party’s decision as announced by Oshiomhole at a dinner meeting of APC National Working Committee, National Assembly members elects and President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa on Monday night, said, “I was shocked because the constitutional provision of Section 60(1)(a) on the emergence of the Senate President is clear. It says that the Senate President and Deputy Senate President shall be elected by members and it says the law is binding on everybody including the party”.

Ndume said the 109 Senators should choose among themselves their leaders either by consensus, indirect election or direct election. He therefore berated the party’s decision saying “as a party that should be operating on principle of internal democracy and as a government always proclaiming due process, the decision is very wrong”.

According to him, zoning arrangement was not stipulated in the Constitution, but it enhances fairness, justice and equity but settling for an individual was not the proper thing for the party to have done. He said the decision of the party is illegal.

He said “even if the party have zoned the Senate Presidency to the North East, it should have allowed Senators from the zone to produce one of them. We were supposed to be given the honour as Senators from the North East to choose the Senate President among ourselves.” “I was not given a chance as a party loyalist and as someone that love President Muhammadu Buhari. The party did not even contact us having made known our interest in the race, they did not appeal to us to drop our ambition for Senator Lawan.”

“The party chairman just made the pronouncement. We were not given chance to make comment or ask questions and even Lawan the chosen candidate was not given the chance to thank us his colleagues who are in the race,” Ndume said

“I believe the decision was not that of the party but that of Adams Oshiomhole. What happened on Monday night has even worsened the selective process. The Senate as an institution should be Independent and nobody or party should impose candidate on the Senate.”

“The Senate President should be truly Senate President and not Senators’ President. In a senate of 109 members, the kingmakers should be the senators. It is not fair for someone to appoint a leader for leaders”.

Senator Ndume said it has been his dream to become Senate President considering his years of parliamentary experience and that he notified the necessary the party leaders, including President Buhari and Senator Bola Tinubu. He said President Buhari gave him his blessing while Tinubu told him he came late because he (Tinubu) has promised his support for Lawan.

“My decision to contest is not personal. My colleagues both outgoing and newly elected encouraged me to vie for the position. Also, the Concerned Elders of Borno backed my candidacy. They even held a press conference when I was out of the country to urge me to contest.” “The decision of my colleagues is that this situation of imposition will backfire”, he said.

Citing failure of imposition in previous Senate, Ndume said, “In 1999 Enwerem was imposed and he did not last. Wabara was imposed and he did not last. But after two mistakes, the PDP retracked its steps and started zoning formula and peace started reigning in the party”

On the effect of the news on him, he said “I came home shocked but slept well. My wife and my children were worried about the development.”

Speaking on his line of action, Ndume said “I am leaving this to God and my people that elected me especially the Concerned Elders of Borno that asked me to run for the position of Senate President.”

“I am going home (Borno) to meet with my people for further decision.” As an interested party in the race for Senate Presidency seat, he said he has no personal grudge against Lawan but want a thorough process and due process to be involved in choosing the Senate President and other offices

“It is God that decide who he gives power to. In Islam, God says he gives power to who he wants, when he wants and how he wants”, he concluded.

The Borno Concerned Citizens (BCC) have asked the Senator Ndume to seek the Senate Presidency position since President Buhari has declared that he has no preferred candidate for the post.

The group said the incoming senators should consider the experience and ranking of Senator Ali Ndume and elect him as the next Senate President. Among the group are two former notable Governors of the state, Mr Mohammed Goni and Mr Maina Maaji Lawan.

Addressing journalists in Abuja on Thursday on behalf of the group, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Mr Dauda Danladi said Senator Ndume’s past records and experience at both chambers of the National Assembly will ensure that the executive-legislature relationship is cordial.

He said that “there is no doubt that the 9th National Assembly has a critical role to play if government is to actualize all its developmental projects, programmes and policies that will propel Nigeria into an industrialized world in the near future.”

“A cooperative partnership driven National Assembly that will support, encourage and work with the executive to accelerate the achievement of socio-economic objectives of the government cannot be overemphasized.”

“In this light, we the Concerned Citizens of Borno state are coming forward to urge Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume to contest for the office of the President of the Senate in the 9th National Assembly.”

Danladi added that the group is convinced that Senator Ndume possesses all the qualities and requirements to hold the office of the Senate President, pointing out that he was in the House of Representatives from 2003 – 2007, was House minority leader from 2007-2011 and has been in the Senate since 2011.

Ndume emerged as the Senate leader in 2015 and was removed in controversial circumstances in January 2017, ostensibly for his defense of party policies and for being loyal to the Buhari administration.

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