Pledges to reduce privileges attached to Senate president’s office
Deji Elumoye and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, yesterday demonstrated his resolve to look his All Progressives Congress (APC) party leadership in the face, rolling out a nine-point agenda for the coveted office of Senate president he is vying for in the ninth Senate billed for inauguration in June.
Ndume (APC Borno South), who is Chairman of Senate Committee on Establishment and State Services, had last week objected to the nomination of Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, as the next Senate president by the APC leadership, saying the move was unconstitutional.
Releasing his agenda for the 9th Senate presidency, Ndume, who has been in the National Assembly since 2003, promised to improve upon the performance of the 8th Senate, adding that he would make the Office of the Senate President less attractive by reducing the unnecessary privileges attached to it.
Promising to uphold the independence of the legislative arm of government, the third term senator promised to “work harmoniously and inter-dependently with the executive without undermining the principle of separation of powers.”
Ndume said he would prioritise and ensure the passage of the Constituency Development Bill to make “constituency projects more transparent, accountable, efficient and effective.”
He promised to cooperate and synergise with other senators-elect with a view for the Senate to agree on timeline for confirmation, passage of bills especially the annual budgets, which he said will not exceed 90 days from the day of submission.
Other issues on the Ndume for Senate President Agenda include: “to make laws that will block leakages and devise improved means of generating revenue, especially through the amendment and review of our tax laws, which will help to reduce reliance on local and foreign loans to finance budget.”
Ndume also promised “to run the 9th Senate transparently through open accountability with full participation of all senators.
“For example, we will transfer the approving powers of the privileges of the senators like foreign travels, allowances to Senate Services Committee or a new committee to be known as “Ways and Means Committee.”
To uphold the party’s principles and policies, Ndume said the Senate under his presidency will make laws and review existing ones “to be in tandem with APC’s Next Level Agenda for Nigeria.”
North-central Group Protests, Demands Zoning of Speaker to Zone
Meanwhile, a group of APC stakeholders yesterday staged a protest at the National Secretariat of the party in Abuja, demanding zoning of the House of Representatives Speaker to the North-central zone of the country.
The group, under the auspices of North-central APC Ambassadors, in a letter dated April 1, which was addressed to the National Chairman of the party, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, insisted that the zone should be given the opportunity to produce the Speaker of the House of Representatives as a reward for the 2.4 million votes it gave President Muhammadu Buhari during last presidential poll.
The letter was signed jointly by coordinators from five states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), including Mr. Muyideen Yusuf (Kwara), Ms. Rita Longjap (Plateau), Mr. Muhammad Ibn Muhammad (Niger), Mr. Lucas Cassius (Nasarawa), Mr. Yahaya Dauda (FCT) and Mr. Shehu Araga (Kogi).
The leadership of the APC had openly endorsed Senator Ahmed Lawan from the North-east for Senate president and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila from the South-west as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Also the National leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu, had declared his support for the Lagos State-born lawmaker, Gbajabiamila.
But the North-central group in the letter argued that since the North-west has the president, South-west has vice president and Senate president has been zoned to North-east, the speakership must be zoned to North-central.
The letter reads in part: “North-central should be rewarded for its performance in the 2019 election. With 2.4million votes for President Muhammadu Buhari, North-central came third behind North-west and North-east.
“Even though South-west has the VP, it didn’t perform as well as North-central in the last elections. So, who should be rewarded?
“North-central has consistently been loyal to the party. Since 1999, North-central has never occupied the position of speaker or deputy speaker while all the other zones have occupied these positions.”