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Published On: Fri, Jun 5th, 2015

Those Dangerous Buhari-APC Criteria For Senate Presidency – By Obi Ogadi


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If I were a member of progressives Congress, I would have no reason to be proud of my party now based on the statement of Criteria issued by the National Working Committee (SWC) of the party with respect to the choice of Senate President.
According to the report I read in Sahara Reporters, these set of criteria were issued after a meeting; a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB). There is something interesting about closed-door meetings is that anyone can give his own account of the meeting, and claim to be correct because there is no basis for verification.

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However, now that three solid days have passed, and there is no rebuttal, something tells me that the SWC of APC actually issued these criteria. What I cannot say with any certainty is that PMB agreed with them on the content of the statement. If he did not, why is John Odigie Oyegun and the team using the name of the president to go in a certain direction. If PMB agrees with the statement, does it not represent a fundamental contradiction of his pledge to stay out of the selection of leaders for the legislature?
To go further let us look at those criteria.
APC claimed that they agreed with the five-day old presidency to award the Senate Presidency to the zone with the second highest number of votes in the March 28, 2015 presidential elections. A cursory glance at the results of the presidential elections shows that the North East scored second highest after the North West. In fact it scored a total of 2,898,423 votes cast for APC as against the total vote haul of 2,216,188 votes garnered by the party from the North Central zone.
Therefore this criterium is definite and perhaps subjective. APC knows that the second highest vote was scored by the North East and there is no record of where prior to the election, APC stated that the position of Senate Presidency will go to the zone that scored the second highest vote to that of the president’s votes. Therefore APC which formally declared that it is not zoning its Senate Presidency or any other National Assembly position is now zoning the position to the North East and pronouncing Ahmed Lawan as the Senate President .Interestingly the party has the backing of Buhari to pick Lawan even when the latter claims not to be involved in determining the leadership of the National Assembly.
Nothing illustrates this more than the words from the SWC of the party as reported by Sahara Reporters.
“The president explained to us that the North Central part of Nigeria has held the Senate Presidency for long enough. He therefore disclosed that the post should be allowed to move to another geo-political zone,” one source at the meeting told Sahara Reporters.
In pushing for Mr. Lawan as the next Senate President, Mr. Buhari reportedly stated that, since the North East zone gave the party the second largest number of votes in Nigeria’s recent general elections, the zone should be allowed to produce the premier position at the upper legislative chamber. Nate President
Therefore it is clear where Buhari wants the Senate Presidency to come from , and it is unfortunate because the standard before now has been that presidency wades into the selection of the leadership of NASS.. Buhari was not compelled to issue a statement that he will not get involved in that. But having said so, he ought to keep his promise or lose credibility. Besides, why in the nature of balance should the President come from the Borth West and the Senate President from the North East. Is it not too much imbalance since the two come from the same bloc and the same ethnic group?
APC also said that the aspirant to the Snate Presidency should not have a corruption case hanging over him. Again this criterium is vague to the extent that the subsisting law in the federation does not recognize mere accusations or allegations ,until someone is found guity.Were it not so, why should this criterium thrive days after the EFCC witdrew charges against an APC chieftain and former governor of Bayelsa State?
The third clriterium of the most ranked senator is another prescription that is neither here nor there. The issue of ranking is a rule made by the Nnational Assembly to govern the activities of the legislature which for all practical purposes goes beyond APC. There it is not subject to , or open to the interpretation of one political party, and I suspect that this much fact is known to them, yet there is the strong temptation to work to an answer based on decisions favouvrable to powerful individuals. One such individual in my own view who surprisingly is not visible in the latest power game is Ahmed Bola Tinubu who insists that the South West zone should have both the Vice Presidency and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
This is where I personally think that what we are seeing in the horizon is simply an exchange of favour between two individuals, Buhari and Tinubu. If Tinubu concedes Lawan to Buhari, the president will concede Speaker of House of Representatives to him. At the end of the day the government of Nigeria will run and be run at the highest level of power by four zones out of six to the exclusion of others who are qualified. It speaks volumes of the level of internal democracy within our political parties and signals to us that there is more work to do to arrive at a democratic Nigeria.
This policy is as dangerous now, as it was in 2011 for the PDP when the then ruling party’s decision was upturned by the legislators, in defence of the independence of the legislature.
But looking beyond the National Assembly at the nation, the way and manner APC is arriving at the leadership of the country in a nation that professes federal character in its dealings leaves room for instability in the emerging government and polity in a way that may not be noticeable to those who could speak up, because they are too busy looking for patronage in a government that is still enjoying its honeymoon
It is bad enough that APC is getting its zoning-which I insist they have- wrong, but in the matter of the day, let the National Assembly choose its leadership, to stand them in good stead to check the executive arm of government.
I am opposed to the appointment of Lawan as Senate President and Ahmed Tinubu appointing Senator Femi Gbajabiamila who comes from the same zone ,if not the same state as the Vice President.
But who am I?

• Obi Ogadi, public affairs commentator write from Onitsha Anambra State

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