A forum of non-serving Senators of the Second to the Fourth Republics has backed the favoured candidate of the All Progressives National Caucus for the Senate President of the 10th National Assembly, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
The forum made the declaration on Monday at a news conference in Abuja.
Present at the gathering were Senators Ita Enang, Abba Aji, Magnus Abe, Rilwan Adesoji Akanbi, Ayodele Arise, Barnabas Gemade, Ayogu Eze and National Convener of the forum, Basheer Lado, amongst others.
Their demand was however faulted by a group sympathetic to the aspiration of another aspirant for the office, Senator Abdul Aziz Yari, the Good Governance Initiative (GGI).
National President of the GGI, Kunle Sanusi, dismissed the position of the Non-Serving Senators as self-serving
Flanked by his colleagues, Senator Ardo who read a prepared speech to newsmen, the former lawmakers said the zoning of the office of Senate President and Deputy Senate President to the South-South and North West would inspire equity and fairness in the polity.
They also commended the choice of Senators Akpabio and Barau Jibrin as favoured candidates for the positions of presiding officers of the Senate.
“We, in the spirit of equity, fairness, political expedience and following extensive consultations with stakeholders, hereby express our total support for the zoning of the position of the President of the 10th Senate, to the South-South geo-political zone of Nigeria.
“We also affirm our unfettered support for the position of the President of the 10th Senate who also doubles as the Chairman of the National Assembly to be conferred on His Excellency, Distinguished Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON.
“The position of Senate President represents the third position in the hierarchy of our current democratic dispensation.
“This position carries considerable weight in discharging vital constitutional responsibilities and for charting the right course for our national development.
“It is also important that the holder of such a position enjoys the confidence and support of the party leadership and that of his peers as Senator Godswill Akpabio undoubtedly does.
“With this same spirit of fairness, we also affirm our solid support that the position of Deputy President of the 10th Senate is conceded to Distinguished Senator Barau I. Jibril, CON, representing Kano North Senatorial Zone, Kano State.
“It is our conviction that diverse and united legislative leadership is critical to good governance.
“At a trying period in our nation’s political history, the National Assembly requires experienced and level-headed leaders at the helm of its affairs.
The Non-Serving Senators further appealed to other contenders for the position of Senate President to withdraw from the race to ensure a seamless transition from the 9th to the 10th National Assembly.
“In view of the above, we wish to respectfully appeal to all other aspirants to these key positions to kindly support our position by withdrawing their respective bids.
We believe that their withdrawal and cooperation will reduce the acrimony that commonly characterises the jostle for power in the National Assembly amongst the geo-political zones
“This will go a long way in ensuring a peaceful and smooth take-off of the incoming administration.”
The pro-Yari group in a statement maintained that the call on other aspirants in the race for Senate President was inimical to the growth of constitutional democracy which lawmakers were elected to promote.
They noted that it would amount to a double standard as many members of the hitherto unknown group had championed the independence of the legislature in the past when it suited their interests.
“These were people who functioned as lawmakers at the highest level of this country previously. They ought to understand the fundamental rights of individuals as enshrined in the Constitution. They ought to understand constitutional democracy like ours. Many of them on the list once championed the independence of the parliament. So, what has changed?
“The best answer to the question is double standard on their part, for their selfish gains. However, His Excellency Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari will exercise his rights within the confines of the Senate Standing Rule and the 1999 Constitution as amended. He can’t be intimidated by this kind of gang-up since the former Senators have no voting rights on the floor of the Senate on one hand.
“On the other hand, Senator Godswill Akpabio was part of the PDP Senators who voted for a Senate President to ensure the independence of the legislature in 2015. Now he has changed, he wants to be handpicked and not emerged through a democratic exercise. That tells you the kind of Senate President they want to install on the 10th National Assembly,” Sanusi stated.
A group, Coalition of APC Geo-Political Zones Support Group has petitioned the APC National Working Committee over zoning of the office of Deputy Senate President to the North West.
In the petition dated May 8, 2023, and addressed to Senator Abdullahi Adamu, Chairman of the Forum,
Ambassador Tajudeen Ibrahim and his Secretary, Engineer Abdulakeem Ifeshile called on the APC NWC to review the zoning of offices of presiding officers of the National Assembly as they noted that it was skewed against the North Central zone despite its contribution to the victory of the president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“Undoubtedly, the geopolitical zone has contributed immensely to the growth, development, progress and success of the Party, particularly, during the just concluded 2023 General elections. The zone comfortably delivered five (5) out of six (6) states that made up the zone.
“It is however unfortunate, that the zone has been overlooked and neglected in the appointment of principal officials of the 10th Assembly. This has no doubt created a sense of marginalization, animosity and a feeling of neglect among the people of the zone.
“The National Assembly is a crucial institution in the Nigerian political system, and the appointment of principal officials should reflect the diversity and inclusiveness of the Nigerian state.
Therefore, it is imperative that the North Central is given a fair and equitable representation in the appointment of principal officials in the 10th Assembly.
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