Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has said any leadership imposed on the Ninth Session of the National Assembly would fail.
Dogara, who stated this at the ongoing orientation programme for members-elect, in Abuja, yesterday, said the powerful nature of the Nigerian Presidency shows the weakness of the Legislature and Judiciary in the country.
Dogara told newsmen, on the sidelines of the orientation that, on the jostle for the leadership of the Ninth National Assembly, lawmakers should be allowed to choose their leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives.
He cautioned that any leadership imposed on the National Assembly, by external forces, is bound to fail, judging by the history of both chambers.
Dogara admonished political parties to ensure that any candidate they are pushing forward for the leadership of either the Senate or House of Representatives, has the backing of lawmakers.
“I will advise members to actually look out for those who have thrown themselves into the race, to see who is it that would aggregate their aspirations better and then, will be able to surpass the record of this Assembly.”
On the role political parties should play in the emergence of the National Assembly leadership, the speaker said: “Well , I am not here to dictate to parties; the parties have their manifestoes, the way to do their businesses but, one thing I have said and, if you followed the business during this induction, it is always better to allow the leadership to emerge from the people.
“Where leadership has been forced upon the people, the history in the National Assembly, and in fact, the history in Nigeria, it has never endured.
“The least we could afford in the National Assembly is crisis; on account of the leadership selection process.
“So, whoever a party is sponsoring and supporting, they should make sure they have the backing of the legislature so that they (legislators) accept it because they own the process and they own the leadership.
“That way, it would be good but, in a situation where it is forced, literally driven down the throat, in most cases it doesn’t augur well. Even in the senate, it doesn’t augur well. In the House, too, it doesn’t augur well.”
The speaker, who chaired yesterday’s session, noted that regrettably, section 143 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), makes it impossible for the parliament to sanction, impeach the president or the vice president, for breach of the country’s Grundnorm or misconduct.
He explained that efforts to amend the section sometime ago, to make the procedure for the impeachment of the president and the vice president less stringent, was unsuccessful, as it was politicised.
“The point was made long ago, even before 2015, when the current president was elected.
“It has always been said that Nigeria’s president is most powerful in the world… It is because of the fact that we, as parliamentarians, and even the judiciary, we have been unable to stand up to our responsibilities.
“When they are talking about a powerful president, they are talking about a weak legislature and a weak judiciary. Section 143 was very controvesial.
“The ruling government (then ) believed we were targeting the president and those who were coming believed that we wanted to relax the law so that anybody they elect, could easily be impeached.