…Counsels that Anything Driven Through Members’ Throats Never Works Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has stated that any plan by political parties to impose presiding officers on the soon to be inaugurated 9th National Assembly would fail. Speaking on Monday at the second leg of the orientation programme for Senators and
…Counsels that Anything Driven Through Members’ Throats Never Works
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has stated that any plan by political parties to impose presiding officers on the soon to be inaugurated 9th National Assembly would fail.
Speaking on Monday at the second leg of the orientation programme for Senators and members-elect of the incoming National Assembly, Dogara said that the leadership that will lift the standard of the Legislature beyond the stage the 8th Assembly had taken it is what desirable for the new assembly.
He said: “I am not here to dictate to parties. They have their manifestos and they know how to conduct their businesses. It is always better for the leadership of the Legislature to emerge from the choice of its members but where leadership has been forced on the people, it doesn’t usually endure.”
“If you look at the history of the National Assembly, it (imposition) has never endured. The leadership selection process from outside the chamber has always been causing crisis in the Assembly. Parties should ensure that whoever they are supporting, have the backing of the legislators so that they can accept such candidate because they own the process and they own the leadership.”
“That way, they will always come out to defend it. But in a situation where it (leadership) is forced literally, driven down the throat of members, in most cases, it doesn’t work, even in the Senate, it doesn’t augur well.”
According to Dogara, leadership is something that emerges from people adding that those of them who have gone through it have known how it is done.
He added: “My advice is that we study those going in for these positions to avoid less rancour. At the end of the day, we pray that we have who would be able to sustain what we have achieved in the 8th Assembly and even surpassed our achievements.”
“We don’t want any leadership that will set us back. We have made a lot of mileage. I will advise members to actually look out for those who are contesting and see who is in the race that would perform better than the records of the current assembly.”
Equally speaking at the orientation programme, former Governor of Benue State, Hon Gabriel Suswan, who is a Senator-elect from the state, said that the All Progressives Congress (APC) should have learnt from the past experience.
He said that it was too early for the APC to roll out names of favoured candidates for positions, adding that from experience, those whose names were advertised end up not getting the top post.
He stated: “From my experience, I think the ruling party should have learnt from their past experience. Since 1999, it has always an issue when names are thrown up. Those names are usually rejected even if the candidates are well-qualified members of the National Assembly. It is even too early for the APC to bring up names.”
“When subterranean moves are made from outside and produce presiding officers, there is likelihood and tendencies that some members would stoutly object to it. There might likely be surprises even within the APC because there are lots of resistances. We are talking to a lot of them.”
“They are just keeping quiet but what will happen on the floor will be different because it is we that are going to vote. People who are bringing up names will not vote. So, you should expect anything but that is not to say that the people whose names have been bandied are not qualified. Ahmad Lawan has been a federal lawmaker since 1999, he is very vast and experienced. I wouldn’t mind him as a Senate President but because he is appearing as if there is an imposition, it may be a bit difficult”.
“People are beginning to question him. Ordinarily, Lawan is a complete gentleman who should be Senate President but the fact that people are feeling that he is the party’s choice is a factor. The same thing is affecting Femi Gbajabiamila who has been in the House for a long time. He is a very experienced lawmaker who will make a very good Speaker but the fact that members believe that he is the party’s choice will lead to resistance.”
“That is how it has been happening since 1999. The three people who are contesting the Senate presidency are all APC members and whoever that emerges will be loyal. It is the impression of an imposition that is a problem. I was in the House of Representatives for eight years and there was no time that the person nominated by the party became the presiding officer. We are all matured and people want to freely express themselves after all we are equal.”
Following the zoning of principal positions in the yet-to-be inaugurated 9th National Assembly by the All Progressives Congress (APC), some Nigerians have described the move as undemocratic, unpatriotic and selfish.
Addressing youths in Enugu on Friday, Coordinator of Democratic Forum (DF), Mr Ebere Anyim, faulted the zoning of principal officers for the National Assembly by the APC, stressing that the federal legislators were elected across political divides.
Quoting Section 50 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, Anyim noted that it is the responsibility of members of the National Assembly to elect their officials from among themselves, adding that the interference by external parties in the selection of officers for the National Assembly is unhealthy for Nigeria’s nascent democracy.
He called on the legislators to be courageous, cautious and patriotic in selecting their officials, adding that for the country to progress, the three arms of government must work harmoniously.
He said: “Although the APC has the highest number of legislators but the selection of principal officers should not be the prerogative of the APC.”
“With reference to the Nigerian constitution, members of the National Assembly will choose their preferred officials from among themselves without interference.”
“For the sake of Nigeria’s growing democracy, the National Assembly must be independent in its affairs. The APC should be sensitive to the plight of Nigerians on national issues. It is the National Assembly of Nigeria and not the National Assembly of APC”
While advising the leadership of APC to engage in pursuits that will strengthen Nigeria’s democracy, the group called on the political class to place national interest above selfish ambitions.
The group also urged the newly-elected and returning National Assembly members to ensure geographical balance and spread in the appointment of their principal officers for the sake of nation building.
But if the All Progressives Congress (APC) embraces Senator Abu Ibrahim’s suggestion, senators who go against the party’s decision on the choice of the next Senate President will be expelled.
Representing Katsina South, Ibrahim, who is also Chairman, Senate Committee on Labour and Productivity, noted in Abuja that in a democracy, “once anyone chooses a party, you must abide by the rules of that party at all times or leave”.
In his view, there will be no need for individuals who disobey the party to remain because “that is an act of indiscipline which no party should condone,” echoing the earlier position of the APC National Leader, Mr Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
“First of all, we have to remind ourselves that it is a political party which gives an individual the ticket to participate in an election. Once such a ticket is given, it is the caucus of the party in the National Assembly that will determine the emergence of a candidate that eventually become the leader of the Senate through voting” he said.
“Specifically, the party decides which zone should produce candidate for the position and when such decision is taken, every member must abide by that decision. No one can come out of a caucus meeting’s voting to say he would not accept the decision of the party on such election process.”
“As a loyal party member, anyone who dares the party’s decision and comes out to connive with PDP to truncate the decision of the party will be expelled from the party.”
“As a matter of fact, if the party gives a ticket to an individual and he/she is assisted with resources to contest and win election, the person must naturally obey the rules of the party at all times.”
“In a democratic system, once you choose a party, you must abide by the rules of that party at all times or else you leave. There will be no need for individuals who disobey the party’s decision and remain in such a party. That is an act of indiscipline, which no party should condone.”
Asked if APC could reach out to PDP senators to seek support for its candidate, Ibrahim said: “You see, there is no need to reach out to the opposition minority members because APC, as a party, has a clear majority to decide straight away who should become Senate President.”
“PDP, as a party, played this game for the whole 16 years when it was in power between 1999 and 2015. All the PDP members, who are now talking today, including Senators Abaribe, James Manager, Ekweremadu and others, know the rules of this game.
“It is sheer mischief, greed and a great insult for any PDP member to now claim that every member in the National Assembly has a right to contest. This is not done anywhere in the world. Not in U.K, U.S.A or anywhere else.”
“David Mark was Senate President between 2007 and 2015 when his party was in power and the majority party in the Senate. Nobody from the opposition parties contested along with him. Now he thinks numerical strength does not matter again but it did when he was the Senate President. What an absurdity.”
“The leadership of the National Assembly now belongs exclusively to APC in the two chambers because the party has a clear majority and does not have to consult the opposition members to pick its principal officers. It is never done anywhere in the world and it will not be done this time around.”
“The minority leader in the National Assembly is there for the PDP to choose their leaders. No one is interfering with them in choosing their leadership.”
“No one from APC will go there and contest to be minority leadership, so why should anyone from PDP want to contest for majority leadership position? Well, it happened the last time in 2015 when Senator Ekweremadu contested the position of the deputy Senate President. He clearly undermined the APC in that exercise but this time around no one can try that and succeed,” Ibrahim said.