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9th NASS: Can APC Have Its Way?

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AHURAKA YUSUF ISAH writes on the ongoing jostle for National Assembly leadership.

National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, while hosting state governors and lawmakers-elect of the APC to a dinner at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Monday March 25, 2019, told the gathering that Senator Ahmed Lawan has been endorsed as the 9th senate president.

The ruling APC followed this by saying that the elected members of National Assembly on the party’s platform do not need the support of their colleagues from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to elect the 9th National Assembly leaders.

After endorsing Femi Gbajabiamila as Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives, he stated that the party is determined not to entrust the leadership of critical committees in the National Assembly to the opposition PDP in the next parliament.

Oshiomhole insisted that the elected APC lawmakers should not share what belongs to the party with any other party, especially the opposition.

“We cannot as a party which has a comfortable majority, entrust critical committees in the hands of the PDP or opposition,” he said

While reviewing recent ruling party leadership’s pronouncement and actions, an opposition senator-elect who do not want to be mentioned said that “it is becoming obvious that the APC leadership style in the country rather evokes hostility, hatred and antagonism, and considering members of other parties as enemies and not merely politically opposing them”.

“Yet, in a country devoid of clear-cut political ideology or philosophy, Oshiomhole that is making these pronouncements against the opposition members without reservations can even find himself in the PDP tomorrow. After all, former PDP National Chairman, Adamu Muazu is a fellow in the APC today”, the senator said.

Back to the main thrust of this discourse, what are the likelihood that the endorsed or preferred candidate shall eventually emerge as senate president and Reps’ Speaker? Although this question would be answered on the inauguration day of the 9th National Assembly, what are the consequences of some measures Oshiomhole and former Governor Bola Tinubu would take penultimate inauguration day to ensure they take over 9th National Assembly?

As the late sage, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe had said, no individuals can be bigger than the entire country.

According to the leader of the “Awareness for Good Leadership, Peace and Development”, Abdullahi Aliyu Katsina”, crisis shall set in when Tinubu and Oshiomhole attempt to change the National Assembly standing rules to favour their candidates. They may amend secret ballot rule to open ballot rule, but such could also trigger protests and disruption of the inauguration day, and perhaps setting constitutional crisis on course”.

“We may equally witness parallel inaugurations leading to emergence of two senate presidents the same day, hence the ruling party leadership must be circumspect with their approaches.

“Section 52 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended states that ‘’voting at an election under this Act shall be by open secret ballot’’, which is the standard best practice under the globe. Coming up with amendment to this standard practice shall be seen as sheer desperation and would be opposed even fiercely too”, Katsina stated.

According to Alhaji Yakubu Umar, spokesman of the Concerned Borno Citizens, “it is sheer invitation to crisis within the ruling APC to endorse some people without due electoral process or consultation with senators-elect from northeast for instance.

“It is also a built up to uneaseness in the National Assembly by asking your preferred candidates to ensure no opposition senators be given important committee chairmanship when they become senate president and Reps’ speaker.

“There’s every likelihood that so many members-elect would vow not to allow the preferred persons be voted to those seats.

“The looming crisis won’t have set in if Oshiomhole and Tinubu played by the rule. APC recognizes that people for elective positions should emerge through election. Oshiomhole emerged as national chairman through election, although as unopposed candidate after his co-contestants like Professor Osunbor was talked to to step down”,Umar said.

By the way, what stop opposition senator-elect from emerging senate president if Oshiomhole and Tinubu find it difficult to manage APC success?

The PDP’s Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr Diran Odeyemi later replied him saying, we don’t make noise like Oshiomhole, whose utterances will definitely spell doom for the party and its proposed candidates. Our party is studying the situation and will come up with our joker at the appropriate time. Nigerians are in for interesting politicking in June. It is then we shall be rated as master strategists.”

Currently, in the United States of America today, while Republican Vice President doubles as the President of the Senate, the 78 Ms Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat is the U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives.

During the 2nd Republic, while the ruling NPN zoned the senate president seat to south-south, Speaker of the House of Representatives was zoned to the southeast, notwithstanding that the then NPP won all the Reps seat in the area. Ume Ezeoke of NPP was presented and elected by NPN. A Cross River person, Senator Joseph Wayas was elected Senate president.

“These are the mature ways ruling parties attempt to manage affairs of the countries, manage the success they achieve at the polls thereby hoisting unity, peace and developmental growth for the nation”, Abuja legal practitioner Abanika Muktar said.

The Borno elders on the platform of Concerned Borno Citizens have recently warned that some dark forces were seriously working on plot to hijack the leadership of the ninth National Assembly for their selfish political gains that could be highly counterproductive to the policies of the Buhari Presidency in the second term.

The group said this when in a statement signed by their leader, Alhaji Yakubu Umar, urged President Buhari to remain with former Senate leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume and ensure that Ndume succeeds as President of the 9th Senate.

Ndume, the group said had earlier consulted with President Buhari who gave him a go ahead to contest for the senate president seat with an assurance to support him.

The group said in part, ‘’Borno state gave President Buhari and the party over 90% of the votes during the presidential election. The over 300,000 votes from Ndume’s senatorial district alone. President Buhari won in the entire 6 states of the southwest by just 200,000 votes, which is far less than what Ndume’s constituency recorded.

‘’This was just as the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole failed to deliver his Edo state on all grounds, with the opposition gaining more grounds day after the other in his state.

‘’Tinubu have had more than his fair share of reward from President Buhari administration, he has had more than his contribution in the party. He single handedly brought Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the APC National Chairman Adamis Oshiomhole into this government. The Director General of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler and host of other MDA heads and state governors are equally his nominees.

‘’President Buhari cannot afford to look the other way or donate the seats of the senate president and speaker of the House of Representatives to Tinubu again, while other actors that even worked harder or polled greater result for his success at the last presidential election are sacrificed on the altar of ‘party position’ the President is deemed to be a head’’.

The way and manner the affair of the ruling APC is being conducted perhaps led to the reaction of another group from the Northeast last week too.

That was when the Abuja chapter of the All Progressive Congress (APC) Northeast Zonal Youth Wing, called for concerted effort by members of the ruling party to safe the APC from total imminent collapse.

The youths who made the call on April 25, 2019 likened the APC under the leadership of Adams Oshiohmole to a truck under the control of drunken driver cascading down the hill without brake.

They said the last straw that will break the ruling party’s camel back is Oshiohmole’s desperation to impose leaders on the 9th National Assembly.

In a statement read by the Youths’ secretary, Abubakar Maigari, at a press conference in Abuja, it was pointed out that the threat by Oshiomhole and a onetime former Lagos state Governor, Bola Tinubu, to send away members of the National Assembly who opposed the imposition agenda is appalling.

According to the youths, Oshiomhole acted under the influence of alcoholism of power and gra-gra activism, took decision for the party.

The APC Zonal Youths noted that the evil leadership of the duo of Tinubu and Oshiomhole has created unmanageable confusion and eventual loss of some states to opposition in the 2019 governorship elections.

According to the youths, it is irreconcilable  that the same Tinubu who orchestrated the removal of the APC leadership winning team led by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and hoisted Oshiomhole on the party is Oshiohmole’s alter-ego and partner to destruction of the party.

“Several members of the ruling party have been lost to the opposition since Oshiomhole became APC National Chairman on June 23, 2018, yet the looming 9th National Assembly leadership election crisis may threaten the corporate existence of the ruling party.

“Oshiomhole is now akin to a bull in china warehouse that has to be guided and shown out quickly, otherwise in less than a year from now, APC shall be confined to the dust bin of history.

“Barely a month after Oshiomhole assume national chairmanship of APC, 15 senators and 37 House of Representatives members decamped mostly to the PDP on Tuesday July 24, 2018, just as the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara followed suit later

“Oshiomhole may wish to say it was not his making, but politics is about making creative interventions by muddling through and not reaching out with unguided statements drawn from crass and ghetto mentality.

“Apart from the lawmakers, Governors of Benue, Sokoto and Kwara states announced their defections also from the APC to PDP under his watch.

“Through Oshiomhole’s pronouncements and actions, Zamfara and Imo governorship crisis were fomented. At the end of the day, APC lost governorship seats in Bauchi, Adamawa, Imo, Oyo, Benue, Sokoto and with court decisions, also in Zamfara and Osun states.

“Political party democracy world over is about reward for hard work and loyalty to the party, but under Oshiomhole, the reverse has been the case.

“Take for instance, Senator Danjuma Goje single-handedly delivered governorship, three senatorial, 6 Reps and 19 out of 24 state House Assembly seats in Gombe states, Senator Ali Ndume was the APC Presidential Campaign Council Northeast Zonal Director through whose effort President Buhari polled highest votes despite Atiku Abubakar’s candidacy.

“On February 14, 2018, Senator Abdullahi Adamu led nine other aggrieved senators to walk out of the senate plenary to protest against new sequence of 2019 elections which they held was targeted against President Buhari’s re-election bid.

“Seven out of these 10 pro-Buhari senators who chested bullets for the sake of their party (APC) and Buhari didn’t make it back to the senate , and they are Abdullahi Yahaya (APC Kebbi North), Ibrahim Kurfi (APC Katsina Central), Abu Ibrahim (APC Katsina South ), Abdullahi Gumel (APC Jigawa North), Binta Marshi Garba (APC Adamawa North), Ali Wakil (APC Bauchi South),  Andrew Uchendu (APC River East) and Benjamin Uwajumogu (APC Imo North) and Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC Delta Central).

“Senator Ndume and Senator Omo-Agege were separately suspended for 90 legislative days in the defence of APC and Buhari administration policy, yet Oshiomhole wants those who have been hand in gloves and partner with senate leadership to sabotaging Buhari’s government be rewarded.

“Oshiomhole has caused the suspension of some state governors without recourse to due process enshrined in the party constitution.

“We must all rise up in unison to deliver our party APC which is now asphyxiating in the hands of Oshiomhole and his controller, Tinubu before it becomes lifeless’’, the APC youths stated.

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