By Akinwale Kasali
In a quest to impose Femi Gbajabiamila and Ahmed Lawan as the Speaker of the House of Representatives and Senate President in the 9th Assembly, All Progressives Congress, APC, leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has relocated to Abuja to further strategize and plot the imposition of his candidates on members of the House of Assembly.
Since last week, Tinubu has shifted base from his Bourdillion abode in Lagos to the country’s seat of power, Abuja, in a bid to perfect his plan.
However, his absence in Lagos, is causing serious rift and problems among top members of the APC in the state.
Former Governor of Osun State and Ex-Commissioner in Lagos State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who is a close ally of Tinubu has taken over in the absence of the APC leader.
The Commissioner list for the incoming governor of Lagos State, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu was chosen and written by Aregbesola and wife of Tinubu, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, to the dismay of top members of the APC in the state.
Members of the Governor Advisory Council, GAC, in the State have frown at the compilation of the list done by the duo. The members lamented that they weren’t carried along in the process, which they found insulting and demeaning.
The GAC said that the party in the state APC has been hijacked by Aregbesola, who has virtually imposed his decisions and choice of candidates on the members.
The magazine gathered from the aggrieved members of the APC GAC that the governor elect, Sanwo-Olu does not have any nominee in the list of the commissioners prepared and given to be given to him.
Apart from the disquiet his absence in Lagos APC, Tinubu is also having problems with APC stalwarts, some senators and members of the House of Representatives in his bid to impose Lawan and Gbajabiamila on the NASS.
Tinubu’s statement that elected party members, not comfortable with the choice of Senator Ahmad Lawan and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, as Senate President and House Speaker respectively, to leave the party or be ready to abide by party decision on the matter.
Following this development, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, has warned the leadership of the ruling party, APC, against imposing a candidate as Senate President ahead of the inauguration of the ninth National Assembly in June.
Hunkuyi (PDP Kaduna North) said that the reported endorsement of Senator Ahmad Lawan by APC leadership as the next Senate President mark the beginning of crisis for the party in the 9th Assembly.
Hunkuyi, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Population and National Identity, said the 2015 shocker that produced Dr. Bukola Saraki as 8th Senate President ought to have served as good lesson for the party.
According to him, endorsing or anointing candidate by leadership of any party for any of the four presiding officers’ positions in the National Assembly was not only undemocratic but blatantly unconstitutional going by provisions of Section 50 ( 1a and b ) of the 1999 constitution as amended.
The provisions, according to him, states: “There shall be a President and Deputy President of the Senate who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves; and (b) a Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves”.
Hunkuyi added that clearly by the two provisions, only the 109 senators-elect and 360 Hon Members of the House of Representatives – elect , are empowered to decide who their leaders as regards the positions of President of the Senate, Deputy Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Deputy Speaker, should be at any given time, particularly at the commencement of a new Assembly.
A Senator from the North-East reminded Tinubu that the party belongs to all stakeholders and not an individual saying: “Asiwaju should be reminded that many political parties agreed to collapse their structures to form the nucleus of APC some five years ago; so, the party does not belong to him.”
The legislators-elect said rather than threatening the elected lawmakers, the party leadership ought to have engaged them on how to evolve a vibrant leadership for the ninth National Assembly.
A senator-elect from the North-central said that “As we speak, the party leaders have not deemed it fit to call all APC senators-elect to a meeting only for us to be told publicly by Oshiomhole that Senator Lawan is the party’s choice as next Senate President.”
According to him, “We will do everything possible to resist imposition of any leadership on the next federal parliament.”
Another senator-elect from North-central zone affirmed that the imposition of Lawan on others will not fly. “We are ready to take on the party leadership on the matter and ensure that all stakeholders are carried along,” he said.
He advised the party not to make the mistake it made in the 8th Senate which produced Dr. Bukola Saraki as Senate President as against Senator Lawan, then the choice of the party.
The ranking senator said senators-elect of like minds across political divides will meet to chart a course of the orientation programme for all elected federal lawmakers.
“Our colleagues have started arriving in Abuja for the orientation programme being put together by the management of National Assembly for all the 479 members-elect of the federal parliament and we’ll use the opportunity to reach out to them and take a firm decision on the kind of leadership we desire in both the Senate and the House of Representatives,” he said.
Elected members on the platform of the APC in Lagos State to the House of Representatives in Abuja have vowed not to support Gbajabiamila in his quest to become Speaker in the 9th Assembly.
The members were said to have confronted Tinubu and made it known to him that they weren’t in support of Gbajabiamila and would not support him because he is so arrogant and doesn’t care about any other person, but himself.