By Deji Elumoye in Abuja
A member of the National Assembly, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, has warned the leadership of the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), against imposing a candidate as Senate President ahead of the inauguration of the ninth National Assembly in June.
Hunkuyi (PDP Kaduna North) said in Abuja on Friday 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 .
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.
“Therefore, for any other person or group of persons outside the 469 constitutionally empowered persons to by way of pontification, anointment, selection, appointment or endorsement, saying Senator A or B, is the one for this or that position is not only wrong but making clear affront on democracy itself.
He wondered why Senators must be dictated to by The Presidency that must be railroaded or teleguided on issues that are strictly theirs ?
Said he: “The culture of anointment or imposition by the APC in collaboration with the presidency wants to infuse into it must be rejected and I know it will be rejected by the elected federal lawmakers .
“ Though I don’t have the right of participation at the coming 9th Senate particularly in the election process at inauguration, but i have a say through interaction with many of the Senators-elect , already giving me the feelers that as elected senators of the federal Republic of Nigeria , their independent mindedness will come to play on the day of inauguration .
Hunkuyi further said if the APC had zoned the positions without endorsement of anybody , “it would have been better but insisting that a particular person must emerge for a particular position is turning the principles of democracy and separation of powers upside down with attendant backfiring effects”.