Lessons From The Emergence Of The Leaders For The 8th National Assembly

As the results for the leaders of our 8th National Assembly were being announced ,what flickered through my mind was that 'democracy has finally come to stay in Nigeria'. Imagine in Nigeria where minority members were elected Deputy Senate president and the Senate leader? There is no gainsaying the fact that democracy is fast taking its rightful place in our politics.

The same 2015 that doomsday prophets predicted that Nigeria was going to disintegrate is the year we showed the world that an incumbent president could be defeated .We still went ahead to tell the world that it is possible in Nigeria to have a smooth transition of power at the federal level from one political party to another. In view of this ,Nigeria is not only the African largest economy but also if not the most stable but at least one of the stable democracies in the region.

The immediate past administration allowed INEC to be independent hence INEC conducted an election that reflected the collective wishes of the masses where the former administration was peacefully removed .We want this current administration to consolidate on that by ensuring that political power belongs to the people. This can only be possible when Institutions that are created to be independent are allowed to be independent.

Nigerians need electronic voting system so that the political thugs who specialise in ballot box snatching during elections will be shown the way out of the illicit business. This will go a long way in reducing the number of petitions before our electoral tribunals after each elections. Electronic voting will compel our politicians to know that power belongs to the people and not those around the corridors of power.

Coming back to the emergence of the new leaders for our 8th National Assembly,this pattern of change started in 2011 when Hon. Waziri Tambuwal emerged speaker against the PDP consensus candidate,Mulikat Adeola Akande. The opposition parties hailed those that thwarted PDP's arrangement and insisted that the national legislators should be independent hence they should be allowed to choose their leaders. Exactly four years after,the same 'treachery' that once befell the PDP has befallen the ruling APC but now the latter has refused to accept the outcome in good faith. The APC leaders believe that their party decision or rule must take preeminence over any individual political ambitions .

Section 1(3) of our constitution says that ,'if any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this constitution ,this constitution shall prevail ,and that other law shall to the extent of the inconsistency be void '. Now, what does our constitution say about the election of the leaders of the national Assembly? Section 50 (1) of our constitution states that there shall be

(a) a president and deputy president of the Senate ,who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves;

(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 . Sequel to this ,the constitution never empowered any political party to interfere with the process of selecting the leaders of both Houses of our National Assembly. Emphasis should be laid on the phrase 'among themselves'. Our constitution does not recognise any selection/election or decision by any political party with respect to the election of the leaders of the National Assembly but that the leaders must be elected by the members of the National Assembly themselves. At this point that APC's decision is inconsistent with that of our constitution,which one shall prevail ?

When Honorable Waziri Tambuwal emerged the Speaker in 2011,PDP was expectedly angry but they decided to allow the principles of Rule of Law and Separation of Power to rein supreme. On the contrary,APC has described the emergence of the Senator Bukola Saraki and Hon. Yakubu Dogara as totally unacceptable and the highest level of indiscipline and treachery.

I seem to be confused here,who are treacherous ,those that obeyed the sections 1(3) and 50(1) of our constitution or those who believe that the their party constitution/decision should lord it over the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? Have they forgotten in a hurry how the emergence of Tambuwal as the speaker in the immediate past National Assembly rejigged PDP 's plan of strongly holding the Southwest geopolitical zone ?

It was Dele Giwa that said,'no evil committed by man can go unpunished,if not now then later,if not by God certainly by men,for the victory of evil over good is only but temporary.' When Hon. Tambuwal was PDP in form but APC in function,the opposition party then did not see it as an act of indiscipline or treachery ? Hon. Tambuwal continued in that status until few months to the general elections when he did the needful by officially defecting to APC and nobody raised an eyebrow.

The simple majority of both Houses has spoken and anybody contesting that,is just telling us that section 50 of our constitution cannot be obeyed in this administration .Those that are against the emergence of the new leaders should remember what happened when Hon. Patricia Olubunmi Foluke Etteh was imposed on the members of the House of Representatives as their Speaker by the PDP leaders in 2007.

The principles of Rule Of Law should not be recited on the pages of our newspapers,those in government should be seen applying the principles. Now that the simply majority of the members of the National Assembly has spoken,their collective wishes should be respected and the independence of the National Assembly should not be compromised .If APC goes on to either suspend or expel any of the new leaders,they should remember that he who kicks a frog has just given it a lift as the seminar all the PDP National Assembly members-elect held in Port Harcourt,Rivers state was not in vain.

I want to specially thank those that ensured that no candidate was imposed on the members of both Houses of our National Assembly by any political party . This is a lesson for the PDP because with this recent feat ,they should know that although they are now the minority, their votes and decisions will always determine the success of any bill/ decision in the 8th National Assembly.

They should be united in order to give us the opposition we need in this present administration so that the distinguished members of our National Assembly will not be 'rubber stamp' for all requests from the executive arm of the government .

We need a transparent government and that can only be possible when all the three arms of the government function independently but united in purpose the same way a triangle has three surfaces and the surfaces are united in purpose but different in positions and sizes. Our national interest must override any party's interest at each point in time. My gratitude equally goes to the immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives for blazing the trail .

Dr Paul John
Port Harcourt
Rivers state
[email protected]

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Articles by Paul John