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Failure Of Imposition

Posted: Jun 12, 2015 at 2:52 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Augustine Adah  –  Lagos


Tuesday June 9 will go down in history as the date when election into 8th National Assembly was conducted and APC chosen candidates failed to clinch the position of Senate President and Speaker of House of Representatives. In a mock primary conducted by the leadership of the party last Saturday, the party adopted Ahmad Lawan as its candidate for the position of Senate President and Femi Gbajabiamila for Speaker, House of Representatives.

But when it was time for members of the National Assembly to vote for its leaders, they jettisoned the APC arrangement and voted in a different direction.  In the election characterized by intrigues and horse trading, Senators elected Bukola Saraki from Kwara (Central) emerged   as the Senate President.

In what appeared to be the first in the history of Nigerian democracy, a member of opposition PDP and former deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu was elected also as Deputy Senate President for the 8th National Assembly.

Saraki  was elected unopposed by 57 senators in the absence of other 51 APC senators who had gone to International Conference (ICC) to have meeting with President Muhamamdu Buhari   which did not hold after all because the president could not  turn up for the meeting.

In the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara from Bauchi State was elected Speaker.  He scored 182 to defeat Gbajabiamila who garnered 174 votes, about 358 out of 36o senators elected from 360 Federal Constituencies of the country.

Shortly before the inauguration and election of principal officers the opposition PDP urged its members to vote for Saraki and Dogara as Senate President and Speaker of House of Representatives respectively. The party, in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Olisa Metuh, in Abuja on Tuesday morning urged its Senators and members of House of Representatives to act accordingly by voting for these two men.

Indication that  APC may approach the NASS election as a divided house emerged on  Saturday when the leadership of the party conducted a mock election  that produced  Ahmad Lawan as its candidate for Senate President and Femi Gbajabiamila as Speaker. The mock election was largely boycotted by Saraki’s loyalists.  According to a statement signed by Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West) indicated that the group which decided to boycott the election would not be part of any move by the party to adopt a consensus candidate for the Tuesday’s election. “We the Senators-elect of Like Minds wish to state categorically that we will participate only in the constitutional election scheduled for Tuesday, the 9th of June 2015 in line with the rules of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the statement said.

APC said, “Senator Bukola and Hon. Dogara are not the candidates of the APC and a majority of its National Assembly members-elect for the positions of Senate President and House Speaker. The party duly met and conducted a straw poll and clear candidates emerged for the posts of Senate President, Deputy Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, supported by a majority of all Senators-elect and members-elect of the House of Representatives.

“All National Assembly members-elect, who emerged on the platform of the party, are bound by that decision. The party is supreme and its interest is superior to that of its individual members.

“Consequently, the APC leadership is meeting in a bid to reestablish discipline in the party and to mete out the necessary sanctions to all those involved in what is nothing but a monumental act of indiscipline and betrayal to subject the party to ridicule and create obstacles for the new administration.”

APC decried a situation in which some people, based on nothing but “inordinate ambition and lack of  discipline and loyalty, will enter into an unholy alliance with the very same people whom the party and indeed the entire country worked hard to replace and sell out the hard won victory” of the party.

The position of the party appears to be different from that of President Muhammadu Buhari who said that he is prepared to work with the new leadership of the two chambers.  He said that although he would have preferred that the process of electing the leaders as initiated and concluded by the All Progressives Congress was followed, he was of the view that constitutional process “has somewhat occurred.”

Buhari’s position was contained in a statement made available to journalists by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina.  The statement read in part, “President Buhari had said in an earlier statement that he did not have any preferred candidate for the Senate and the House of Representatives, and that he was willing to work with whoever the lawmakers elected.

The decision of Senators and members of the House of Representatives to vote contrary to the wish of the ruling APC may be an indication that members want to chart a new course independent of political godfathers  in the party. The Chairman, Coalition Against Corrupt leaders, Comrade Debo Adeniran told Daily Independent that what happened at both Senate and House of Representatives is a good omen for the country’s democracy. He stated that electing their principal officers without  the control of the party shows that they would have independent mind to work for the interest of the common people, but cautioned both Saraki and Dogara not neglect their party’s rule because it would lead to abuse of rule of law.