Following the February 23, Presidential and National Assembly elections, there have been intense backbiting among Returning Senators, especially those of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, for the seat of Senate President.
Shedding more light on the crisis is outgoing Senator, Suleiman Hunkuyi, (Kaduna North), who said if not properly checked, could endup consuming the party.
The Senator warned that the party was again toying with the issue of leadership positions of the 9th National Assembly.
Hunkuyi, who was elected on the platform, but defected to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said that the endorsement of a sole candidate for the post of Senate President would cause problems.
He spoke with newsmen in his Abuja office recently, that endorsing or anointing candidate for National Assembly leadership positions was undemocratic.
He said the constitution noted that “There shall be a President and Deputy President of the Senate who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves; and (b) a Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves.”
“Clearly by the two provisions, only the 109 senators-elect and 360 Hon Members of the House of Representatives – elect , are empowered to decide who their leaders as regards the positions of President of the Senate, Deputy Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Deputy Speaker, should be at any given time, particularly at the commencement of a new Assembly.
“Therefore, for any other person or group of persons outside the 469 constitutionally empowered persons to by way of pontification, anointment, selection, appointment or endorsement, saying Senator A or B , is the one for this or that position is not only wrong but making clear affront on democracy itself.
“Must Senators be dictated to and or Senators and members of House of Representatives cabinet members of the presidency that must be railroaded or tele guided on issues that are strictly theirs?
“Democracy is not a crazy culture but culture of respects for peoples rights, views and constitutionally spelt out responsibilities.
“The culture of anointment or imposition the APC in collaboration with the presidency wants to infuse into it must be rejected and I know it will be rejected by the elected federal lawmakers.
“Though I don’t have the right of participation at the coming 9th Senate particularly in the election process at inauguration, but I have a say through interaction with many of the Senators-elect, already giving me the feelers that as elected senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, their independent-mindedness will come to play on the day of inauguration.
“If APC as a party just zones the positions without the endorsement of anybody, it would have been better but insisting that a particular person must emerge for a particular position is turning the principles of democracy and separation of powers upside down with attendant backfiring effects”, he said.
Also, speaking on the National Assembly leadership crisis, one time political adviser in the second Republic, Tanko Yakasai, has warned the APC, not to insist on Senator Ahmed Lawan to replace Bukola Saraki as Senate President.
Lawan, who is the Senate Majority Leader, has been given the blessings of the APC to become the leader of the red chamber in the ninth Senate.
Yakasai, speaking with The Interview, said he expected the ruling party to have learnt from its mistakes.
“Well, they have been touting this idea for a long time. Remember when the current Senate was convened after the 2015 election, they wanted Ahmad Lawan to be the Senate president.
“It was the rupture in the party that led a chunk of party senators to team up with PDP senators to get Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu as president and deputy president of the Senate.
“What I am surprised about, I thought what happened to them in the last dispensation would have been a lesson for them to allow legislators to decide who should be their leaders.
“I worked with National Assembly for four years. I know the mindset of members of the National Assembly. They believe that they have their own mandate separate from the mandate of the President,” Yakasai said.