Lawan, Gbajabiamila’s endorsement unconstitutional –Ndume

There are strong indications that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) may encounter a repeat of the crisis of 2015 in its quest to install the leadership of the 9th National Assembly, which is billed for inauguration in June 2019.
One of the top contenders for the office of Senate President, Mohammed Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South), yesterday, vehemently opposed what he described as imposition of candidates on the two chambers of the National Assembly by the APC leadership.
Ndume, who expressed his opposition to any form of imposition on the National Assembly by the ruling party at a press briefing in Abuja, also described the endorsement of Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila for Senate Presidency and Speakership of the House of Representatives respectively as unconstitutional.
The National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole had, on Monday night in Aso Rock, told the 65 APC Senators-elect that Lawan (APC, Yobe North), had been endorsed by the party for the position of President of the 9th Senate while Gbajabiamila was anointed by the party hierarchy as Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives.
Reacting to Oshiomhole’s announcement, Senator Ndume accused the national chairman of taking the ruling party back to the 2015 crisis, which eventually put the party, the Presidency and the National Assembly at permanent loggerheads.
Ndume stressed that such endorsement was contrary to the provisions of Section 50(1A) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), and would not be in the best interest of the party and the country in general.
The section states: “There shall be a President and Deputy President of the Senate who shall be elected by the members of that house from among themselves.”
The lawmaker argued that by the provisions of the Constitution, neither Oshiomhole nor President Muhammadu Buhari nor any party leader, has the right to force leadership on elected senators or members of the House of Representatives.
“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 (APC, Gombe Central) and Abdullahi Adamu (APC, Nasarawa West), widely known to be in the race for the position to say anything.
“More disturbing was the fact that even Senator Lawan endorsed for the position, was not allowed to make any comment in form of acceptance speech or soliciting for support from other interested senators,” he said.
Ndume expressed concerns that the party, which was expected to have learnt its lessons from the 2015 experience, was being made to thread similar path that would cause it harm by Adams Oshiomhole.
According to him, since 1999 there was no time leadership was imposed on any of the chambers of the National Assembly without such imposition boomeranging.
“Under PDP, it happened with the imposition of Evans Enwerem and Adolphus Wabara as Senate President at different times and also with Patricia 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 support 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 sort 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 insisted.
He, however, declared that his loyalty to the party and in particular, President Buhari, had 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 didn’t make any comment on leadership of the 9th Assembly at the dinner, but only greeted us before the organizers of the programne 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,” he added.
Ndume said that he would consult with party elders from Borno State and many of his colleagues who encouraged him to join the race on next line of action to take on the matter.
He noted that it is God that gives power to whomsoever he wishes, saying “it is not over until the Almighty Allah makes final decision on who becomes President of the 9th Senate on the day of inauguration.”
Before inauguration of the 8th Senate on the 9th June, 2015, the leadership of the APC, endorsed Lawan and Gbajabiamila for Senate presidency and Speakership of the House of Representatives but both of them lost out at inauguration to other party members, who said that such imposition was undemocratic and an infringement on their constitutional right to aspire to such offices.

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