Ima Ekanem
Mon, May 15, 2023 1:46 PM

Group Urges APC to Throw National Assembly Leadership Open

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Group Urges APC to Throw National Assembly Leadership Open
A group of Nigerians under the aegis, Citizens Advocacy Group has called on the...

A group of Nigerians under the aegis, Citizens Advocacy Group has called on the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to allow members of the newly elected National Assembly to choose their leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives in cognisance of separation of powers, insisting that the imposition of leadership on the legislature is undemocratic

The group in a statement made available to THISDAY yesterday and signed by its Convener, Chris Sunday George and Secretary, Haruna Kabir, said it rejected the “imposition of candidate for the position of the Senate President for the 10th National Assembly.” The group averred that the decision by the leadership of the APC to choose the Senate President for the 109-member Senate is an affront on the principle of separation of power

“The decision by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APCto impose a candidate on the Senate as the president of the next upper legislative arm of the National Assembly has been generating an uproar in the polity

You will recall that the APC NWC has released the zoning of offices for the 10th National Assembly

A document issued after the NWC meeting in Abuja, showed that the Senate President would come from the South-south and specifically, Senator Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom)

“Others are Deputy Senate President: North-west, Senator Barau Jubrin (Kano); Speaker, House of Representatives: North-west, Abass Tajudeen (Kaduna) and Deputy Speaker: South East- Ben Kalu (Abia)

This decision has been generating controversy and this is not unexpected and we feel we must add our voice to what we see as an anti-democratic posture which bodes no good for our nascent democracy

What the party has done is an autocratic imposition which has no place in a democracy as it poses serious danger to independent legislature and an attack on the principle of separation of power

We in the Citizens Advocacy Group believe the concerned Senators-elect should be allowed to make their choice based on the experience, competence and the qualification of each aspirant,” the group said

The group also explained that even if the ruling party chose to zone the position to a particular region, it would be wrong to insist that one particular person must be the one that should be chosen

“If you are zoning it to a particular zone of the country, you cannot say this is the person that should be the Senate President from that zone when you have other candidates from the same zone who have expressed interest in the position

For instance, the position of the Senate President was zoned to the South-South geopolitical zone, are we saying there are no other candidates from that zone who are qualified and competent enough to become the Senate President

The zone alone has six states including Akwa Ibom where the APC’s anointed candidate hails from; Rivers, Cross River, Bayelsa, Delta and Edo States

Why should we exclude five other states despite also having qualified Senators-elect, both new and returning who have the experience to lead the Senate

Politics of exclusion in a democratic setting like Nigeria would only breed enmity, ill-feeling and rancour which the incoming administration cannot afford in a country already deeply divided,” it said

The group has therefore, suggested that the contest should be thrown open so that the members of the Senate should choose their leadership

“We believe the race should be thrown open for all the candidates who have expressed interest from the zone to test their strength and popularity in a free and fair contest and anything short of that would not augur well for the smooth take-off of the 10th Assembly

At this point in time when Nigeria is faced with multitude of challenges, we cannot afford to inaugurate a new government and the National Assembly on a shaky and controversial note and we can avoid this by not giving room for imposition as the APC leadership has done

We reiterate that the decision of the party is not democratic

It is not well thought-out

It is highly offensive and a decision that must not be allowed to stand for the sake of equity and fair play,” the group added.

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