Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senators in a statement on Tuesday warned the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and its National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, to leave Senate President Bukola Saraki out of their schemes to produce the next President of the Senate.
The PDP Senators also noted that the party was constitutionally eligible to lead both chambers of the National Assembly.
Report has it that Saraki and the PDP senators were plotting to influence the leadership of the ninth Assembly.
Oshiomhole had during a meeting with new APC members elect revealed that the ruling party was aware of the agenda of the opposition party, warning its members that it must avoid the PDP plot to hijack the 9th Assembly.
However, the PDP senators in a statement on Tuesday issued by the Minority Leader, Biodun Olujimi, and Senator Dino Melaye, warned that the PDP lawmakers would not allow any outsider to determine the next Senate President.
“Let it be known that no matter the mischief being sponsored by these spineless people, Dr Saraki knows that it is the duty of all senators in the ninth Senate to elect their Senate President and other leaders.
“Nobody from outside the Senate has such powers. It is also the right of every senator to aspire to that position as stated by the constitution.
“He has benefited from this practice of senators within the chambers exercising the right. He is conscious of this fact and will not be a party to any plan to seize or interfere with the process of evolving the leadership of the ninth Senate.
“We, therefore, urge the APC gladiators and their handlers to leave Saraki out of their schemes and manipulations.
“They should go and concentrate on how to convince the senators-elect and ensure that the election of the next Senate President takes place in a conducive atmosphere with a view to strengthening the institution and making it perform its constitutional roles, without any hindrance,” the PDP senators stated.
It further added that the APC were making the situation look like Saraki was seeking to play a role in who emerges at the various leadership positions in the 9th Senate.
“His concern now is to continue to provide leadership to the Eighth Senate and to ensure that the Senate achieves as much as it is possible in the remaining two months of its tenure,” the PDP senators said.
Our members are constitutionally eligible to lead the National Assembly – PDP
The opposition party in an apparent response to the ruling APC over its warning to its members to ensure only APC members takeover all key positions in the National Assembly, said that even PDP senators and members are constitutionally eligible to lead the 9th National Assembly.
The party further described as laughable the move by APC Chairman Oshiomhole and President Muhammadu Buhari to impose leaders on the chambers.
“It is laughable and amounts to empty grandstanding and self-delusion for President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, to pose as if the presiding offices and committee chairmanship in the National Assembly are exclusive rights of the APC,” Kola Ologbondiyan, the spokesman of the party, said in Abuja.
“President Buhari and Oshiomhole should wake up to the fact that the National Assembly belongs to no political party but to all Nigerians, who exercise their control through their elected representatives.
“For emphasis, Section 50 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is clear in providing that ‘There shall be:- (a) a president and a deputy president of the Senate, who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves; and (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.’
“Section 92 (1) makes the same provision for the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of State House of Assembly.”
He further noted that the PDP had a role to play in the election of who emerges as leaders in the senate and house.
“The PDP, therefore, does not only have a constitutional say in the process of the emergence of the leadership of the 9th National Assembly, but will, as a matter of constitutional right, field candidates into presiding offices of both chambers, if need be.
“The PDP wishes to remind President Buhari and Oshiomhole that the APC had in the past benefited from the provisions of section 50, with the defection of then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, from the PDP to the APC, in October 2014, without relinquishing the speakership of the House to the PDP; a development that was applauded by President Buhari, as then opposition leader as well as the APC, through its then National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed.
“In fact, the former Minority Leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, echoed the constitutional provision that ‘the constitution requires only that the speaker or deputy speaker of the House of Representatives shall be elected by members of that House from among themselves.”
APC replies PDP
The APC however in its apparent reply through its spokesman, Lanre Isa-Onilu, said that the PDP and its senators had no say on who become the next Senate President and Speaker.
He noted that in the presidential system of government, it was not a must for the principal officers of the National Assembly to be elected on the floor of the National Assembly.
“The PDP leaders and their senators-elect are ignorant. If they are not ignorant, they will know that they don’t have a say on who becomes the President of the Senate.
“The positions that belong to the party with the majority, belong to the party with the majority. The positions that belong to the party with the minority also belong to the party with the minority.
“That is what is being practised in the proper presidential system of government that we adopted in this country.
“So, it is not for the PDP senators to come and vote for who becomes the Senate President. If that has been happening before, it is an aberration.
“This position belongs to the APC. We have won majority and once you win the majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives, you determine those who are going to occupy those positions that belong to the party with majority.
“That is what is obtainable in the United States. You don’t even see them come to the floor to come and vote for the Senate President. Once they determine who will occupy those positions that belong to the party with majority, they will just come to the floor and announce.”