Sunday, 7 June 2015

#APC Settles For Lawan, Gbajabiamila For Senate President and Speaker

In shadow elections to fill principal offices in the National Assembly, the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday settled for the candidature of Senator Ahmed Lawan and George Akume as Senate President and Deputy Senate President as well as that of Hon Femi Gbajabiamila and Mohammed Mungunu as Speaker and Deputy Speaker, respectively.

Gbajabiamila, the former Minority Leader of the House in the 7th Assembly and Lawan emerged the consensus candidates at separate meetings called by the party in Abuja, yesterday, to adopt candidates for the National Assembly leadership positions.

While an earlier meeting produced the Gbajabiamila/ Munguno ticket, the Lawan/Akume ticket was decided on in the early hours of today. The meeting to decide the Senate leadership commenced at about 11pm yesterday.

This was just as Senator Bukola Saraki and his supporters, in protest of the party’s selection process, stayed away from the exercise.

Saraki, a frontline contender for the Senate presidency, LEADERSHIP Sunday learnt, was against the party’s decision to produce its candidate through a mock or primary election, insisting that the party has no constitutional power to stop him from contesting for the office of the Senate President.

Senator Lawan polled 32 out of 59 votes cast, to emerge the party’s candidate, with one invalid vote, while Akume got 31 votes, with two voided votes.

The result was announced by the returning officer and National Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Mai Malla Buni.

In his acceptance speech, Lawan who said the party was exhibiting change, while hailing the party for producing sole candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives.

He adjudged the process transparent, while pledging to extend an olive branch to the Saraki group, noting that the party cannot afford a divided house.

Lawan urged the party to intervene in building the much needed unity in the party.

In his remark, National Chairman, Chief John Oyegun, who thanked the law makers said internal democracy must be institutionalised in the party, adding that changes and sacrifices need to be made to fulfil the promise of the party to the electorates.

Meanwhile, the meeting to decide the leadership of the House of Representatives of the 8th National Assembly was tension soaked as members who were opposed to the party’s position, engaged in a shouting match with those said to have been favoured by the party’s action.

However, at the end of the exercise, Gbajabiamila polled 154 votes out of 161 valid votes cast to beat his closet rival, Hon Yakubu Dogara who scored 3 votes, while Hon Mohammed Munguno (Borno state) emerged the party’s sole candidate for the position of deputy speaker.

Announcing the result of the election, Buni, said the process was in line with the party’s principle of internal democracy.

Commenting on the process, National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun commended the APC law makers for their exemplary conduct, saying the exercise was transparent and promising that the party would work with them.

Oyegun, however, urged Gbajabimila to reach out to his colleagues who are aggrieved with the process.


Dogara camp stages walkout

The outcome of the process however, did not go down well with one of the contenders for the position, Hon Yakubu Dogara, who stormed out of the meeting at exactly 2pm, defying a heavy rain. Dogara was eventually nominated in absentia.

Speaking to journalists on behalf of the Dogara camp shortly after walking out of the meeting with 19 members of his group, Hon Jubril Adulmumin, another contender for the position, who had earlier stepped down for Dogara, faulted the party’s arrangement, saying that they were not prepared for a primary election as they did not prepare and mobilise for a primary election.

He said they were not part of the party’s consensus arrangement, insisting that Dogara is still in the race for the House speakership.

Similarly, in a press statement issued yesterday titled ‘’our stand on the illegality perpetrated by leadership of the All Progressives Congress’’ and signed by Jibril, the group gave four reasons for its disapproval of the mock exercise, adding that its members were not put on notice regarding the actual motive of the meeting, even as the whole process contravened the party’s constitution and the 1999 Constitution.

‘’We in the 8th Assembly Consolidation Group of Hon. Yakubu Dogara wish to state our position on the event of today Saturday 6th June 2015 as follows:

‘’That we went to the meeting with the expectation the party wanted to give us last word ahead of Tuesday’s inauguration of the House. However, we began to notice some moves in the hall where members supporting Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila started campaigning and soon, we saw ballot papers being moved into the hall. The National Chairman of the party, Chief John Oyegun informed us that they were going to conduct a mock, straw or primary election,’’ Jibrin said.

He added that he was thereafter mandated to speak on behalf of the group when they noticed the strange happenings and that the party leadership was reminded of President Muhammadu Buhari’s non-interference stance on the issue of the 8th National Assembly leadership.

‘’We then told Chief Oyegun that it is either he is disagreeing with the president, undermining his stance, or does not agree that the president is the leader of the party. Secondly, we informed the party that the remaining two aspirants in the race for the Speaker are of the APC since no PDP member is contesting for the position. We should therefore be allowed to sort it out among ourselves on Tuesday.

‘’Thirdly, if we were coming for election, we ought to have been notified well ahead. We therefore view this as an ambush, manipulative and indicative of the fact that the party leadership came with a pre-determined position which was skewed to favour Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila. The election of the House Speaker is not an exclusivity of the APC but includes all members from all political parties.

‘’Our position is that we are not a party to what they did and we maintain that the election of the Speaker of the House of Representatives cannot be conducted outside the chambers of the House and we are ready to participate in that process on Tuesday June 9, 2015,’’ Jibrin said.

He noted that their group also informed the APC leadership that the process they were about doing was contrary to the provisions of the party’s constitution which did not prescribe that a primary election be conducted for the Speakership aspirants, a situation which he said was also contrary to the provisions of the House Standing Orders and, ‘’above all the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.’’

The statement further reads, ‘’The next Speaker of the House should be allowed to be elected in tandem with the Constitution. Consequently, we demanded that the process be delayed with atleast 24 hours to enable us to prepare and mobilise our members. After raising these objections, the national chairman Chief Oyegun did not respond to any of the points raised.

‘’Initially, the chairman agreed to halt the process but one hour later, the National Vice Chairman North Senator Lawal Shuaibu came up and said the process must go on whether we like it or not. At this stage we had no option than to walkout of the hall and address the press,’’ he said.

Briefing journalists earlier, National Publicity secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the party cannot afford to go to the floor of the National Assembly with two candidates, noting that the supremacy of the party will prevail on the choice of the principal officers of the National Assembly.

He said the party adopted election process among the National Assembly Members elect to choose their candidate, adding that whoever emerges automatically becomes the party’s candidate.

Mohammed who said that disciplinary action awaits any legislator who goes against the party’s decision, further disclosed that the APC legislators were made to sign undertaking to abide by the outcome of the primary election to select the party’s consensus candidate.


North-East, North-West Caucus Endorse Gbajabiamila/Munguno Ticket

House of Representatives Members-elect from the North-East and North-West geopolitical zones have endorsed the Gbajabiamila/Munguno ticket for Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House, respectively.

Addressing journalists in Abuja, on Friday, Director of Press of the Gbajabiamila/Munguno campaign organisation, Sani Zorro, said the support for Gbajabiamila was because of his experience in legislative business, credibility and intellectual acumen.

“If you look at Gbajiamillia, this is someone that has been in the system for eight years, if it were under a parliamentary system that his party won the election, he would have become the prime minister. But this presidential system is about reward and compensation, it is not about punishment.So someone who has led an opposition in a most credible manner, who has brought a lot of political engineering to bear, and most importantly, if you reflect, you will agree with me that from between 1999-2007, most of the so-called opposition leaders, whether at the National Assembly level or national level were all compromised. The moment they stayed in office for five, six months, they start talking from both sides of their mouth.

“But not this gentleman, he is highly competent. Secondly the zone that he belongs to is the third largest zone that got votes for the APC. The South-West voted in block. So, you cannot ignore such a political zone. In fact, apart from the Southern part, in the Northern zone of the country it is the North-West, followed by the North-East, but in the Southern part of the country, it was the South-West that actually helped to deliver the votes,”he stated.

He further noted that electing Gbajabiamila Speaker would be reward for his meritorious service to the opposition, “and he is also going to be lucky because he comes from a political zone that has helped to deliver; he is a partner in the entire thing that was done to deliver the APC to victory. The party and stakeholders are appreciative of all these. The institution and individuals of the APC are all appreciative of all his efforts through the years.”

“When it comes to confidence and track record of performance, the ability to mix with people, the ability to be transparent and open, I am sure you cannot compare the two. Our candidate is the one to beat,” Zoro added.

Unity Forum Senators insist on Lawan/Akume Ticket

Meanwhile, Senators-elect in the Unity Forum yesterday said there would be no going back on the Ahmed Lawan/George Akume Senate and Deputy Senate President Ticket.

The forum also directed their Like Mind counterparts desirous of names and signatures of supporters of the Lawan/Akume ticket to approach the APC national secretariat for the list.

The Unity Forum in a statement issued through the media office of Lawan/Akume for Senate President, said their resolution in support of Senators Lawan and Akume was in a letter sent to the party with their names and signatures attached, “thus anyone desirous of the list and signatures is free to approach our party.”

The statement was in reaction from the challenge by members of the “Like Minds” that the “Unity Forum” should disclose the identity of all its members.

The statement clarified that five senators out of the 40 members of the Unity Forum were unavoidably absent in Abuja to sign the letter last Wednesday, leaving the 35 quoted in the media, emphasising that the party remains the main body that should be in the know of details of Senators-elect that had signed on to the Lawan/Akume ticket and that the party has the full list.

“Election into the principal offices of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should not be seen in the light of certain types of election characterised by pettiness. We are talking of the upper chamber of the National Assembly,” the statement added.

The forum expressed disappointment that their counterparts rooting for Senator Bukola Saraki were in the name of campaign for the exalted office of the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, taking steps that were not in line with parliamentary practices, “and one of them is the call for display of names and signatures on the pages of newspapers.”

“We are advocates of openness and transparency in the electoral process to produce the leaders of the Senate as done in all parliaments in the world and the open voting system enshrined in the Senate Standing Orders but that should be carried out in line with the parliamentary standards and not on the pages of newspaper.

“After all, during the voting to elect the Senate President, each senator shall vote in the open so that the electorate back home will know whom each senator-elect voted for. We should not forget that the senate is the highest law making chamber in our political system and so, anything to do with it should be matured and of high degree of decorum,” the statement added.

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