The 2015 Nieria general
election in Nigeria has come and gone. The campaigns really heated up the Polity through the mantra for ‘Change’ versus that of ‘Continuity’. At the end of the day, the All Progressives Congress (APC) defeated the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which was in power for 16 years.
The APC also controls majority in both Houses of the National Assembly (NASS-the Senate and House of Representatives).
In a federalism such as Nigeria’s, power sharing and zoning is an integral part of the polity as a result of its diversity (regional, ethnic, religion etc). Consequently, the two major parties in the NASS have key roles to play in stabilizing the polity because of the yearnings and aspirations of the populace.
Unfortunately, the proclamation of the 8th National Assembly on the 9th of June, 2015 and subsequent election of key officers in both Houses have rekindled another crisis in the polity and therefore pose a serious concern to the Nigerian citizenry. The festering conflict within the ranks of APC legislators in the NASS especially in the lower chamber, is no doubt an embarrassment to the party and to the surprise of many Nigerians.
There is therefore need to resolve the crisis and end the impasse in the NASS, while the APC leadership should also muster the courage and required capacity to arrest the drift.
It is against this backdrop that it has become pertinent to consider the context of party supremacy and discipline in an attempt to bring stability in the polity, and NASS particularly.
Politics, refers to any human relationship that involves, to a significant extent, control, influence, power and authority. The APC, which is the party in power, seems to be a marriage of inconvenience made up of defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ANC), Congress for Progressive change (CPC), the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), a splinter group of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and much later the defectors from the Peoples Democratic Party called (New PDP).
These groups have their various interests, values and aspirations, but merged first to wrestle power from the PDP behemoth. The most familiar base of influence and power is power itself, hence the struggle for the soul of the APC.
This is very obvious in the manner the positions of presidential candidate, Presidential running mate and party national chairmanship of which Muhammadu Buhari (CPC), Yemi Osibanjo (ACN) and John Odigie Oyegun (ANPP) respectively emerged.
Their peaceful emergence brought a glimmer of hope that the party was on course and can assert itself in all spheres and scheme of things especially after the accompanying victory at polls through fostering of party discipline, supremacy and therefore stability of the nation’s fragile polity.
As a party in power, it hehoves APC to whip its members into line either by use of threat or sanctions. But here again, distribution of positions and offices should not be done to the exclusion of any group as compromise is needed to incorporate all groups after careful consideration of the federal character principle.
The federal character principle is an attempt in search of national integration where there is all inclusiveness. Apart from national integration in a diverse political framework, it also has the ideology of power sharing, political restructuring, equity, justice, gender access and even democratic stability in Nigeria.
The doctrine was formulated to address and hopefully mitigate the problems of lopsidedness so as to ensure a peaceful, stable and integrated Nigeria.
The history of federal character, power sharing and power supremacy in the National Assembly predates the 2nd Republic when the coalition of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and National Peoples Party (NPP) shared power and political offices in the federal Houses, with the NPN producing the Senate President (Dr Joseph Wayas) of the present day South –South region, while the NPP produced Mr. John Wash Pam of the North Central as Deputy Senate President.
In the House of Representatives, Honourable Edwin Gme-Ezeoke (NPP) of the South-East was voted Speaker and Hon. Idris Kuta (NPN) of the North-West was Deputy Speaker.
In 1999, with the beginning of the 4th Republic, the PDP emerged as the party in control after the 1999 election National offices were also shared equitably with the federal character principle in mind. By this formula, president Olusegun Obasanjor came from the South West, Vice President Atiku Abubakar from North-West, Senate, President, Evans Enwerem /Chuba Okadigbo and Ayim Pius Ayim/Adolphus Wagbara/Ken Nnamani from the South East.
The North West produced the Speaker, House of Representatives (Salis Buhari) Ghaali Na-abar and Aminu Masari) Deputy Senate President came from the North Central with A. Haruna and I. Mantu as beneficiaries white the South –South produced the Deputy Speaker, House of Representative (Chibudom Nwuche/Austin Opara.
Then, there was a conscious plan to zone national offices for reasons of equity and justice. This is a result of the role of party supremacy in which the party in Majority would assert its influence, authority and control on its members.
There were, however, occasional changes in occupants of some of those positions as could be noticed in the position of the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives. This was occasioned by executive interference culminating in impeachment over a period of eight years. Nevertheless, zoning was respected and the six zones benefited from the top six hierarchy.
By 2007, the PDP remained in control of power both at the executive and legislative arms of government with the emergence of David Mark and Miss Patricia Ettch as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively. For the first time, a female was elected on the floor of the House to the exalted position of fourth citizen of the nation. This act, again, was a conscious arrangement by the ruling PDP to imbibe affirmative action and a sense of belonging to the polity.
In 2011, for instance, the PDP-controlled Senate made another conscious effort to distribute principal positions from which the following emerged: Senate President, David Mark (North Central), Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu (South East), Majority Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba (South South), Deputy Leader, Abdul Ningi (North East), Majority Whip, S. Gwarzo (North West); and Deputy Whip, Hosea Agboola (South’ West).
In other words, parties in Power and opposition alike are expected to take into consideration the principle of federal character and geo-political spread in the allocation of principal positions so as to achieve the required stability in NASS.
In 2015, the APC with a majority in both Houses is expected to follow similar pattern, but the leadership chose to do otherwise. The first salvo came from President Buhari who said he would not dabble into the affairs of the legislative arm and as such would be willing to work with whoever emerges on the floor of both Houses.
The Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo corroborated Buhari’s remarks, by saying that meril must supersede zoining in appointments to political offices. Oridinarily, these comments are ideal but may not augur well with a group with vested interest in the party.
The party’s leadership endorsed Ahmed Lawan of Yobe State (North East), George Akime of Benue State (North Central), Femi Gbajabiamila of Lagos State (South West), and Mohammed Monguno of Borno State (North East) for Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker House of Representative and Deputy Speaker respectively. There was no consideration for zoning.
Suddenly, on June 9th, 2015, Bukola Saraki (APC), Ike Ekweremadu (PDP), Yakubu Dogara (APC), and Wale Lasun (APC) were voted as Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively as against the dictates of the party leadership.
This was a grave blunder committed by the party leadership. Not long after, zonal caucuses of the party in both Houses decried marginalization in power sharing which led to the ensuring conflict within the ranks of the APC legislators in the NASS, especially in the lower chamber.
From all indications it appears that the APC has been captured by elements of the “New PDP” within the party and that these elements are working with the PDP to undermine the APC and its leadership who is being accused of being insensitive to the groups’ interest as co-stakeholders.
Their reasoning seems to be that the party leadership must not see itself as being supreme to the point of constituting an alternative to equity and justice, or a license to impunity.
The situation is further worsened by the fact that as crisis deepens, members come out with contradicting opinions and statements on the feud.
Meanwhile, the ‘dissident’ group relies on the provision of the law which clearly states that legislators should appoint or elect their own leaders within the two chambers, and that there is no provision that gives the chairman of a party the power to appoint the major officers in the National Assembly.
The unfolding scenario in the National Assembly is a clear confirmation that every political party seeks to acquire political power, but it is more difficult for them to maintain themselves in power.
This appears to be the APC’s challenge today. It is also a warning for APC to negotiate before it rocks the boat, knowing that 2019 is not too far.
.Lulu-Pokubo is a Port Harcourt-based political analyst
‘Reps Passed 88 Bills In Two Years’
The House of Representatives has passed 88 bills out of 1407 bills in the past two years, its spokesperson, Benjamin Kalu (APC, Abia) has said.
The House clocked two years on June 11 and has two years left.
Mr Kalu had earlier released different data on the status of legislative activities. However, The Tide source is yet to independently verify this latest data.
Mr Kalu had claimed that the House considered 853 bills and 41 of them passed, in the previous statement.
According to the new statement released on Friday, a total of 554 bills were introduced between June 2020 and June 2021. It was a sharp decline considering that the House introduced 853 bills between June 2019 and June 2020.
Although the decline could be blamed on the outbreak of Covid-19.
“The accurate number of bills considered by the 9th House of Representatives as of June 10, 2021 is 1407 out of which the House has passed 88 bills.
“Additionally, the accurate number of motions considered by the 9th House of Representatives as of June 10, 2021, is 730 out of which the House has made 98 resolutions on security issues.”
The data released by the lawmaker shows that while the introduction of bills has been easy, the progression of bills has been very slow.
A total of 942 bills are awaiting second reading, only 327 bills have been referred to committees, and 79 are awaiting committee of the whole consideration.
Within the same period, 730 motions were considered by the House. However, out of the 663 referred to committees, only 40 reports have been laid, and only six have been considered by the House.
Legislative activities suffered a great deal in 2020 due to the breakout of Covid-19. The National Assembly was shut down for about two months between March 2020 and May 2020.
At a point, the plenary was reduced to once a week.
However, the lawmakers did not help the situation by embarking on holidays at the slightest opportunity, thereby missing deadlines on passage of key legislation.
Also, a review of the legislative agenda of the House by The Tide source shows that the lawmakers are far behind in fulfilling their agenda.
Accord To Contest In 12 LGAs
Accord Party plans to contest only in 12 local government councils and 37 local council development areas at the July 24 council polls in Lagos State.
Its Publicity Secretary, Dele Oladeji, told newsmen in Lagos, yesterday that the party chose to contest only in its areas of strength rather than dissipate energy across the state.
He said Accord Party would contest chairmanship and councillorship seats in Somolu, Mushin, Odi-Olowo, Igando-Ikotun, Agbado Okeodo, Agege, Alimosho, Apapa, Lagos Mainland, Ikorodu, Oshodi/Isolo, and Ifako-Ijaiye LGAs/LCDAs.
Oladeji said that the party had a good outing in these councils at the last council elections in 2017.
“We are set for the election and we are competing in our local governments of strength where we won in 2017.
“We are set to repeat the same feat and even win more than the eight councillorship seats we won in 2017 to become the only opposition party in the local government administration in Lagos State,’’ he said.
Oladeji said that the party was ready to go to court wherever its mandate was stolen as it did in 2017 local government elections.
“As against 2017 when we went to court only in few areas to get back our rigged mandate, this year, we will go to court in any number of local government areas where our mandate is perceived to have been stolen through rigging.
“As the only opposition party in the local government’s administration of Lagos State, we have retained the abiding hope of Lagos residents as the alternative party.”
Okorocha Cautions Igbos On Secession
The Senator representing Imo West, Rochas Okorocha, has cautioned the South-East against their agitations for Nigeria’s breakup.
Okorocha warned that Igbos would be the worst hit if Nigeria breaks up.
The former Imo State Governor spoke in Abuja while addressing some women groups yesterday.
Okorocha stressed that the South- East should push towards fixing the country and not its disintegration.
The lawmaker stressed that Igbos are nationalistic in nature, hence they should dismiss the urge for Nigeria’s disintegration.
He said: “It is only an Igbo man that goes to a place and remains put in that place, buys a land and builds a house for his family without feeling insecure. The Igbos will lose more if Nigeria divides.
“Most Nigerian leaders who were successful had one thing or the other to do with the Igbos. It is either they married Igbo women or had some links with them. I can call names like, former President, Obasanjo; former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Buba Marwa, just to name a few”.
South-East groups like the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereignty State of Biafra, MASSOB, have been agitating for the disintegration of Nigeria.
IPOB led by Nnamdi Kanu has been in the forefront, calling for Biafra’s actualisation.
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