*Slams Oshiomhole for anti democratic tenets
By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
One of the top contenders for office of Senate President for the 9th Assembly, Ali Ndume, yesterday criticized the decision of All Progressives Congress (APC) and Presidency to adopt the incumbent Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, as their choice candidate for Senate President.
Briefing journalists yesterday in Abuja, Ndume, who was the Minority
Leader in the green chamber in 2007, faulted the decision as being unconstitutional, saying he and other likeminded APC senators left the meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari disappointed.
He cited section 50(1A) of the 1999 Constitution (amended), which reads ‘There shall be a President and Deputy President of the Senate who shall be elected by the members of that house from among themselves’, to justify his argument.
The Borno South Senator, who was the Senate Leader in the current
assembly for two years before he was removed, pointed out that by the provisions of the Constitution, both the chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, President Muhammadu Buhari or any other party leader, has no such powers or right to force a Senate President or Speaker on the elected senators or Hon members of the House of Representatives.
According to him, “What took place at the presidential dinner in Aso rock on Monday night where Oshiomhole as party chairman, announced Senator Ahmed Lawan and Hon Femi Gbajabiamila as President of the 9th Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively was very shocking to me and many of my colleagues.
“Oshiomhole in making the announcement or endorsement, did not even allow myself or Senators Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central) and Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa west), widely known to be in the race for the position to say anything.
“More disturbing was the fact that even Senator Ahmed Lawan endorsed for the position, was not allowed to make any comment in form of acceptance speech or soliciting for supports from other interested senators”, he said.
He said APC was expected to have learnt her lessons from the 2015 experience, lamenting that the party leaders are making it to thread the similar path of 2015 which he said was counter productive.
Going down memory lane, Ndume recalled that since 1999, there was no time leadership was ever imposed on any of the chambers of the National Assembly without it resulting in negative consequences, maintaining that the National Assembly remains the bastion of democracy in Nigeria.
“Under PDP, it happened with the imposition of Evans Enwerem and Adolphus Wabara as Senate President at different times and also with Etteh as Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2007 before the party eventually got it right in the 6th and 7th National Assembly, particularly in the Senate when Senator David Mark served twice as President of the Senate through supports in form of votes given to him by fellow senators and not endorsement by party chairman.
“For the sake of cohesion and stability among party members as regards aspirations for such positions, what was expected from the party leadership, was to just zone the positions and allow contenders within each of the zones to sorth it out either through consensus or shadow election.
“The 109 Elected Senators and 360 House of Representatives members are the Constitutional kingmakers as far as emergence of presiding officers of both chambers are concerned and not national chairman of a ruling party or even the President “, he said.
He however declared that his loyalty to the party and in particular, President Muhammadu Buhari, has not been affected by the unfortunate decision of Oshiomhole on Monday night.
“I don’t even believe that President Buhari was in the know of what Oshiomhole did because he didnt make any comment on leadership of the 9th Assembly at the dinner but only greeted us before the organizers of the programme hurriedly called for rendition of the National Anthem.
“We all left the place in shock and disbelief but my commitment and loyalty to the party remains”, Ndume said.
Meanwhile, he has remained upbeat in his quest to preside over the 9th Session of the Senate, as he vowed to consult with party elders from Borno state and many of his colleagues and allies who encouraged him to join the race on next line of action.
“It is not over until the Almighty Allah makes final decision on who becomes President of the 9th Senate on the day of inauguration”, he said.
Recall that yesterday during a dinner which the APC senators had with President Buhari, the APC chairman, Adams Oshiomhole had introduced the current Senate and Reps Leader, Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila, as the party’s choice for the office of the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
He however did not mention the party’s choices for the other positions, including Deputy Senate President and Deputy Speaker, as well as the Leaders and Deputy Leaders of both Chambers, and their Chief Whips.