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Needed: True Nigerian National Assembly

Posted: Jun 12, 2015 at 12:24 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By William Igenegbai  –  Lagos


After much horse-trading the leadership of the National Assembly has finally emerged. Senator Bukola Saraki of the All Progressives Congress (APC) emerged as the Senate President while Senator Ike Ekweremadu emerged the Senate deputy president. In the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara also of the APC emerged the Speaker. They both beat the APC leadership’s preferred candidates, Senator Ahmed Lawal, for the Senate Presidency and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila for the Reps Speakership.

The President, Muhammadu Buhari, had been billed to meet APC senators to find a way out of the leadership problem among the senators-elect at the International Conference centre, Abuja, at 9 a.m on Tuesday. While majority of the APC senators were at the venue of the meeting waiting for the president, some APC senators and their PDP counterparts held a sitting at the National Assembly and picked Saraki as their president. Senator, Ahmed Sani Yerima from Zamfara State had nominated Saraki for the position while Senator Dino Melaye from Kogi State seconded the nomination. When news of goings on at the National Assembly got to the senators at the meeting venue, they rushed to the Assembly to meet that the deed had been done.

At the House of Representatives, an election conducted to pick the Speaker saw Hon. Dogara from Bauchi State scoring 182 votes to beat Gbajabiamila from Lagos State who scored 174 votes. The events have thus put paid to uncertainties and crisis that have been on over the National Assembly leadership.

In his reaction to the events at the National Assembly, President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said he had noted the outcome of the elections of leaders of the National Assembly and stood by his earlier position that he would work with whoever the lawmakers elected as their leaders.

He added 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.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the APC described the lawmakers’ conduct as the “highest level of indiscipline and treachery” and, therefore, unacceptable.

Some politics watchers, however, believe that an end to the crisis may not have been seen, as events in the days ahead will determine how the crisis will be resolved. They also believe that the APC, as a party, mismanaged the situation when its leadership decided to take a position on the matter instead of allowing the lawmakers free hand to pick their leaders without interference. The said that the party also mismanaged the situation when it could side-track some groups in its fold which contributed immensely to its victory at the polls, citing Saraki , a member of the new PDP (nPDP).  They also see what the PDP legislators have done by supporting Saraki against APC’s preferred candidate, as a pay-back for what the Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN) legislators did in the election of Hon. Aminu Tambuwal as Reps Speaker against the PDP’ preferred candidate, Hon. Mulikat Akande, some years ago.

They also see it as the beginning of the likely end of the humongous political influence of the Jagaban Borgu and APC National leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

They blamed the APC for not learning from the misfortune of the PDP, which led to its disintegration and eventual loss at last general elections. They advised the party to quickly embark on fence-mending moves to save it from the crisis that may be its nemesis. The APC, they say, should take advantage of what has just happened early in the dispensation and resolve the crisis in a way that will make it come out stronger.

However, what Nigerians want from the National Assembly is law-making that will result in good governance in the country. They say that the National Assembly should be a Nigerian one and not that of the North or the South, as the laws that will emanate from the chambers are supposed to be for the general development of the country.

They cited the delay in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) as one that shows that the last Assembly did not really see themselves as Nigerians but as Southerners and Northerners, for while the Southern legislators saw the provisions of the bill as an attempt to right the environmental wrongs that oil exploitation has done to their area for so long, their Northern counterparts saw it as giving too much to the South. The bill, despite its would-be benefits to the country, was delayed till the eve of the exit of the Seventh Assembly when it was hurriedly passed by the House of Representatives.

The same attitude by legislators contributed to the failure of the Lagos Enron Independent Power Project (IPP) initiated by the Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration. Another issue that suffered a similar fate was the state’s creation of 57 local government areas, which were never endorsed by the National Assembly. These and many others are issues of development, which were sacrificed on the altar of political and ethnic sentiments.

So, no matter who leads the National Assembly, what Nigerians are interested in is the development of the country, in which the legislators have a great role to play.

As they begin their legislative duties the lawmakers should eschew vendetta, misgivings, political and ethnic sentiments, and work for the general interest of the country.