By Christiana Ekpa
Former members of the House of Representatives have asked political parties and other influential individuals to keep away from the leadership tussles between the lawmakers, saying it was their exclusive right to choose their leaders.
The members who spoke under the aegis of ‘Faculty Board of Initiatives’, a group made up of serving and former members to promote core values of the legislature, said that all external interferences in the House leadership election process would be resisted.
Briefing National Assembly newsmen on Wednesday, the Dean of The Initiatives, Hon. Eseme Eyibo, former Chairman, House Committee on Media and Publicity in the 6th assembly said that the concept of the separation of powers and independence of the legislature must be upheld.
He said that elections marked the end for party politics, stressing that governance has set in.
Eyibo applauded the process that produced former Speakers Ghali N’abba, Demije Bankole, Aminu Tambuwal and Yakubu Dogara, saying it typified the independence of the legislature.
They insisted that members of the House of Representatives of the 9th National Assembly must be given the free land to elect their leaders.
According to him, Nigerians want a House leadership that must reflect the wishes of the people.
He said: “There has to be a leadership recruitment process premised on certain qualities and these qualities must be the issues of the core values of the institution, acceptability and ability to galvanize the overall interest of the membership of the House of Representatives as represented by powers vested in it in according accordance with section 4(1) of the Constitution.
“We request the media to kindly let all the parties know that what we are saying from this end is that whoever desires to be or whoever is sponsored or whoever in the circumstance may become the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the leader or any of the leadership positions should be be able to the following.
“Democracy is the issue of the rule of law and because it is so, whoever is expected to be the first among equals in the preservation and protection of the rule of law via the legislature must be somebody who is acceptable, who has a standard of behaviour, that will be able to carve a nexus between the governed and government, that will also become a bridge where there will be less conflict within and without.
“Our responsibility and that of the constitution is to make sure that the legislature is not given a cloned leadership, something which bares the semblance of its true legislative identity is what we seek.
“But to ensure that leaders are chosen by members from amongst themselves by themselves without any encumbrances of external interference. This essentially guarantees the principle of separation of powers which created the tripod upon which the three Arms of government rests.
“The history of the leadership of the House is clear and unambiguous. So, whoever is coming into it newly must be able to know that regardless that time has changed yesterday, today still remains the flourishing future if this country and this country will ever be great if and only we allow this path of the independence of the legislature, the stability of the legislature and of course , separation of powers should be allowed to stay.
“We are saying that when politics end, governance starts. The current leadership of the House has show a clear difference between politics and governance and since politics has ended, we should be able to now set some parameters for the leadership recruitment process of the House.
“The leadership must emerge free from all sorts of cloning, free from all sorts of democratic diseased situation and all sorts of situations where it will be seen as leadership of the House is being perfected through bastion.
All Nigerians should all rise.
“We should create the appropriate parameters to determine who emerges and at the end of the day, whoever emerges will be able to understand that House of Reps represents indeed the House of Nigerian people and not the House of political party.
“We have stated the issue of the parameters for who should fit into it and we have made it very clear that for those of us who are conversant with the history of the House of Representatives from Gali Naba to Bankole, to Tambuwal and Dogara, something is very consistent in this leadership. The issue of working together for the interest of members, the issue of acceptability, the issue of assertion of the theory of separation of powers, and of course, the issue of the independence of the legislature.
The group however stated it had no affiliation with any political party, asking Nigerians to raise their voices against unpopular aspirants.
“We are saying it very strongly that we are not representing any political party or individual. This is the time to raise a voice. We expect the input of everybody so that the outcome will reflect the way Nigerians are feeling at the end of another election circle”, Eyibo said.
On issue of zoning, the former lawmaker said that it was a mechanism adopted to address some imbalances.
“The principle of Zoning originates from Zoning as a mechanism to redress perceived injustice and if Zoning is intended to address perceived injustice, the justice of it is the preservation of the constitution and the separation of powers. That is the justice of it. You do not need to zone to a vacuum you zone to where there exist the capacity.
“I have stated here that currently and presently, the leadership of the House of Representatives has been able to clearly demarcate the difference between politics and government. Politics is political parties and its membership. Governance is the Nigerian people who are investing regardless of any partisan consideration, whether is religious, ethnic or political”, he said.