After reading my last week’s article entitled, ‘National Assembly leadership and the rest of us,’ a reader called me and expressed his reservations on the plan by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to impose the presiding officers of the next National Assembly expected to be inaugurated in June this year in the fashion of ‘the winner takes all’ brand of Nigerian politics.
If the dialogue with him is anything to go by, the caller in question is an elderly man. He was worried that certain zones in the country still want to dominate the leadership of the National Assembly when they have been adequately covered by the current power equation that has overtly favoured the North West and the South West geo-political zones.
The old man could not understand why the South West, which produced the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, is jostling for the Speakership of the House of Representatives. He advised that other zones outside the North West and the South West should be considered in the selection of the leadership of the National Assembly in the spirit of political inclusion.
The South East should be given consideration in the choice of the leaders of the 9th National Assembly. The zone ought to be configured in the nation’s power equation. I promised the old man that I will definitely reflect his concerns in my article of today. Having fulfilled that promise, to the best of my knowledge, let me also reiterate for the second time that the ruling party should not repeat its 2015 mistake over the leadership of the National Assembly.
As a party, it may have its preferences for the principal officers for the red and green chambers, but it should not attempt any imposition of the officers on the 9th National Assembly as it is trying to do at the moment. Doing so is an aberration. It is equally undemocratic. It will breed crisis within the National Assembly and distract the lawmakers from making good laws for the country.
It is worth stressing that the way the National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, is sounding on the issue is irritating and troubling. There is the need to separate party leadership from the leadership of the National Assembly. The two are not the same thing and can never be the same thing.
The party cannot dictate what happens at the national assembly simply because it is the ruling party. Oshiomhole should also be made to understand clearly that there is no way ‘the winner must take all’ brand o politics will work in electing the leaders of the National Assembly even if the party has the majority of the lawmakers.
APC must be willing to share power with other political parties in the National Assembly. That is the right way to go. Therefore, the party and the presidency should distance themselves from the election of the officers of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The party’s leadership can only give advice to its members. It should not issue order like a headmaster to his pupils.
The choice of the leadership of the next National Assembly is entirely the affairs of the elected lawmakers. Those of us outside the chambers can only give them advice as I did last week. For those who do not know, Section 50 (1) (a-b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) states clearly that “There shall be (a) a President and a Deputy President of the Senate, who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves; and (b) a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves.”
The provisions of this constitution on the election of House leaders must be respected. There should be no interference from any quarter. The elected lawmakers must be allowed to elect their leaders. They should elect those with the capacity to do the job.
Our politicians should be concerned with how to deepen our nascent democracy and shun anything that will jeopardize it. All the disputations over which zone will produce the president in 2023 should not arise.
Another feather to my cap
I wish to thank all my friends, relations, fans, course mates, lecturers and colleagues who felicitated with me during my doctoral degree convocation at the University of Lagos on April 4, 2019. My successful completion of the Ph.D. programme is a humbling experience. In a special way, I express my gratitude to those who graced the occasion and pray that God will reward them exceedingly.
I was highly overwhelmed by torrents of comments and likes from my Facebook friends on this special occasion. Special thanks to my Ph.D. supervisors, Prof. Chimdi Maduagwu, Dr. Solomon Azumurana and Prof. Akachi Ezeigbo for their useful suggestions, advice and encouragement in the course of carrying out the study. I thank all those who contributed one way or the other to the successful completion of the programme.
I thank the Chairman of the Sun Publishing Ltd and Senator-elect, Chief (Dr.) Orji Uzor Kalu, for his goodwill. I also thank the Management and Staff of the Sun Publishing Company Ltd for their friendship. To my wife and children, I say a very big thank you for your prayers and patience while in the heat of the programme.
To my fans, I am encouraged by your love and kindness. I have not forgotten Professor Aloy Ejiogu for giving me the eye-opening book, How to Get a Ph.D. by Estelle M. Philips and D.S. Pugh, and Professor Olu Obafemi for giving me his book on the war entitled, Nigerian Writers on the Nigerian Civil War.
Special thanks to Professor Agwonorobo Enaeme Eruvbetine for supervising my master’s degree project and giving me the book, Guide to the Successful Thesis and Dissertation, A Handbook for Students and Faculty, edited by James E. Mauch of the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, USA.
May God bless you all. Special thanks to Dr. Izu Caleb Davidson, the ‘seer’ for accurately predicting the future and insisting that a day like this should come to pass. Finally, I thank God Almighty for giving me the strength to complete the study.
Dr. Robert Obioha, Ph.D.