…As PDP Warns Against Planting Moles in 9th National Assembly A major rebellion looms as one of the top contenders for the position of Senate President, Mr Ali Ndume, on Tuesday dared the leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), including President Muhammadu Buhari, and the National Chairman, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, by unfolding his agenda
…As PDP Warns Against Planting Moles in 9th National Assembly
A major rebellion looms as one of the top contenders for the position of Senate President, Mr Ali Ndume, on Tuesday dared the leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), including President Muhammadu Buhari, and the National Chairman, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, by unfolding his agenda as a candidate for the Senate presidency in the 9th National Assembly.
It came just as the Chairman, House Committee on Maritime Safety and Education, Mr Mohammed Umaru Bago, a returning member of the House of Representatives from Niger state on Sunday also declared his intention to vie for the slot of Speaker in the next dispensation.
The party leadership had last week endorsed the Senate Leader, Mr Ahmad Lawan from the north east and House Leader, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, south west as the Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives respectively.
Putting the resolve of his party on the head, Ndume, a former Senate leader unveiled his nine-point agenda if elected as the next Senate President on June 9.
The Borno South senator in a document released in Abuja, promised to improve on the performance of the 8th Senate. He also pledged to make the office of the Senate President less attractive by reducing the unnecessary privileges attached to it.
The former Senate majority leader pledged to uphold the independence of the Legislature and expressed his willingness to “work harmoniously and inter-dependently with the Executive without undermining the principle of separation of powers.”
Ndume said he would prioritise and ensure the passage of the Constituency Development Bill to make “constituency projects more transparent, accountable, efficient and effective.”
He said the Senate would agree on timelines for confirmation, passage of bills especially the annual budgets, which he said, would not exceed 90 days from the day of submission.
“We will make laws that will block leakages, devise improved means of generating revenue, especially through the amendment and review of our tax laws which will help to reduce reliance on local and foreign loans to finance budget,” Ndume further said..
“We will run the 9th Senate transparently, through open accountability with full participation of all senators. For example, we will transfer the approving powers of the privileges of the senators like foreign travels, allowances to Senate services committee or a new committee to be known as “ways and means committee.””
He also said that his presidency would uphold the party’s principles and policies and that the Senate under him would make laws and review existing ones in tandem with the APC’s Next Level agenda for Nigeria.
Recall that Oshiomhole, had at a meeting with the Senators elect and House of Representatives members-elect last week, said the party had endorsed Lawan as the Senate President and Gbajabiamila as Speaker
But Ndume in his reaction said Oshiomhole unilaterally picked Lawan without the backing of neither party nor consultation with other senators.
Spokesman for the APC, Mr Lanre Isa-Onilu, however, faulted Ndume, saying, “The ticket he (Ndume) is holding belongs to the APC and he cannot go and work with the opposition to give what belongs to the APC to the opposition, like it happened in 2015 when the position of the Deputy Senate President was given to the opposition by some desperate former members of the APC.”
“Ndume will be wrong to be calling out the party’s national chairman. The national chairman spoke on behalf of the party. And when we talk of the party in this instance, it is not just about the NWC.”
“The President was there when he said it. He did not say anything that the President was not aware of. He did not say anything that the leaders of the APC are not already part of.”
However, Isa-Onilu on Tuesday said the party hierarchy would meet and take a decision on Ndume’s declaration. He also expressed the hope that the issue would be resolved since negotiation was ongoing.
“The party will look into it and a decision will be taken. Remember that consultation is still ongoing,” Issa-Onilu said shortly after Ndume made his public declaration.
But the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday called on the APC and the President to allow members of the National Assembly to elect their leaders. It also said that both the President and the ruling party must allow democracy to thrive in the National Assembly.
The former ruling party insisted that it would be wrong for the APC and the President to impose leaders on the lawmakers, saying Ndume and others should be allowed to test their popularity among their colleagues.
The National Chairman of the PDP, Mr Uche Secondus, who spoke on Ndume’s declaration, however, said that his party was yet to take any decision on who to support.
Secondus said, “We believe in multiplicity of ideas. Democracy is having more than one option. Though consensus is part of democracy, when that is not achievable, every contestant or interested person must be allowed to test their popularity. That is the beauty of democracy.”
“It is wrong to force lawmakers or coerce them to follow a particular road or a particular candidate who they do not have confidence in. The President and his party should not plant moles as the leaders of the National Assembly.”
Secondus, therefore, asked the members of the National Assembly, especially the senators, to follow their conscience in choosing who would lead them.
“Senator Ali Ndume and other members of the Senate who are qualified to run for the office of the President of the Senate should be allowed to test their popularity,” he added.
As the race for the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 9th Assembly heats up, the Chairman of the House Committee on Maritime Safety and Education, Mr Mohammed Umaru Bago, a returning member of the House of Representatives from Niger state on Sunday declared his intention to vie for the slot in the next dispensation.
The leadership of the APC had earlier zoned the position to the South-West Zone and adopted the House Leader, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila as the choice of the party for the position.
However addressing newsmen at his campaign headquarters in Abuja, Mr Bago declared that he was coming out to slug it out this time around to correct the “injustice” the North Central zone has continued to suffer in the country’s balance of power, lamenting that the zone had never produced either the Speaker or the Deputy since advent of democracy in the country 20 years ago.
Bago who has been a long time political ally of President Buhari, stated that the party had no basis for insisting on a zone that has serially dominated governance in the last 20 years, saying: “What’s the southwest’s contribution to the party’s victory in the last elections compared to that of the North Central? The North Central zone had over 500, 000 votes higher, the records are there for verification.”
According to him, “as such, we deserve the position, not only as a state but also as a zone. So nobody can say he wants to expel us from this party. And no one will singlehandedly take over the structure of the legislature as well as the party,” sending veiled shots to APC National Leader, Mr Bola Tinubu who had threaten to wield big stick against members enmeshed in under hand deals across parties like it happened in 2015.
“Apart from the zoning argument, if you say the South must get something, why insist on South West, why not South-South or the South East?”
“But then, in terms of representation in the party and government, the South-South has the chairmanship of the party, and the Southwest has VP, what does North Central have? Nothing, so, in the interest of equity, justice and fair play, the party should allow the North Central to have the slot in the dispensation.”
While citing section 14 subsections 1;1C;3 and 4 of the constitution as amended, Bago said, “the North West, South West and North East have all produced 5 different speakers between them.”
“The South-South, North East, South East and South West have also produced 5 deputy speakers among themselves since 1999. What does the North Central has in the entire equation, and they want us to keep mute? Who’s speaking for the zone that has never been recognised for keeping faith with the party?”
“Despite all the crisis and challenges bedevilling the zone under the APC administration, we stayed the course for the party and the President, delivering more than 70 per cent of votes cast.”
On how he would secure the support of the majority of members to secure the seat, Bago stated he intended to collaborate with his colleagues from Niger State and members from the Zone to reach out to the members who also have the belief that the North Central Zone had actually been marginalised for too long.
Also speaking, a former member of the House, Mr Bimbo Daramola stressed the need for the APC to uphold equity in its power-sharing arrangements among the six geo-political zones in the country and be guided by the party’s constitution of the country.
According to him,”we are at this point today where a father who has six children with an equal number of meat in the plate decides to give four to three and asked the remaining three to share two. It’s only a wicked father who does that. Equity demands that when someone has worked very hard, he should be compensated for his hard work.”
“Today, the difference between the votes from North Central and Southwest is about 500,000, and nobody seems to be speaking for the zone on the issue of who’s best suitable for the position of speaker, and I say without any equivocation that Hon. Bago is best suited for the post.”
“Supporting Hon Bago is also like a public relations stunt for the President who has said he’s youth-friendly because Bago is an embodiment of everything youthful, his credentials are of no equal and as white as Sloane.”
“He has also stayed with Buhari even when he was nobody working in the Buhari Campaign Organisation TBO – up to the formation of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), and the only one to win election from Niger state under CPC.”