- Rule on secret ballot remains, says Gaya
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, has said he has no ill feelings towards Senator Ali Ndume or Senator Danjuma Goje over their ambition to contest for the position of the next Senate president in the ninth assembly.
This is coming as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Works, Senator Kabiru Gaya, yesterday foreclosed the possibility of adopting the open ballot system to elect presiding and other principal officers of the ninth Senate
Also yesterday, hundreds of youth under the platform of the North-west wing of Coalition of Northern Youth Organisations staged a peaceful rally at the gate of the National Assembly in Abuja, calling on Goje, a former governor of Gombe State, who is currently representing Gombe Central senatorial district, to declare for the position of the Senate president.
Lawan, an All Progressives Congress (APC) senator, representing Yobe North senatorial zone,, made the remark when he was a guest at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) forum in Abuja.
NAN reported that the APC had zoned the Senate president’s slot to the north east where the trio of Lawan, Ndume and Goje hailed from.
However, the ruling party endorsed the candidacy of Lawan for the position.
But Ndume (APC- Borno), and Goje, had stood their grounds on vying for the number one seat of the Senate.
“I want to thank my party and my leaders for having confidence in me. I want to assure everyone very seriously because it is a burden that my party feels I can carry.
“By the grace of God and with the support of my colleagues in the APC, PDP and YPP in the Senate, we should be able to deliver that burden very well.
“I have no hard feelings against my brothers from the North-east contesting. What the party and the leaders did was to say I have been recommended or I have been endorsed. That is a preference; that the party has a preference is not to say that others cannot do the job.
But definitely, the party, our leaders have some reasons why they think we are most suitable for this job,” Lawan said.
The lawmaker, however, said the decision of his colleagues to contest the position with him was constitutional.
“But this is democracy; you cannot shut out somebody if that person feels he has the right to run and of course, the constitution allows for that.
“But definitely, the party and the leaders have spoken and we are not resting on our oars.
“We are going from door to door; we are talking to all the senators-elect. We talk to the APC senators, PDP senators and YPP senator, believing that we are going to work with them.
“Therefore, we need to bridge the gap and we need to know ourselves even before we get there,’’ he said.
According to him, the effort is yielding fruits because “majority of the senators feel that really we have something to offer and that by the grace of God when we are able to make it, we can, together, work out that desirous legislative interventions of the time for the executive to have something to work on.
“So, we are glad that we are working with majority of our colleagues across party lines.
“In fact, APC senators, almost everyone is on this project and we have sat and spoken and talked one-on-one.
“So, many PDP senators are in support of this project. In fact, YPP is fully onboard, Sen. Ifeanyi Uba from Anambra. And we believe that this is the way to go,’’ he explained.
Lawan said if elected, the senate would ensure that public funds were judiciously utilised through its oversight function.
Meanwhile, Senator Gaya has foreclosed the possibility of adopting the open ballot system to elect presiding and other principal officers of the ninth Senate.
According to him, the secret ballot used to elect the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and other officers of the 8th Senate on June 9, 2015, will be used when the ninth National Assembly is inaugurated in June.
Gaya who is representing Kano South, and also a deputy Senate presidential aspirant, told reporters after Senate plenary yesterday that there was no way the ninth Senate will elect its principal officers with 2011 rules, which provided for open ballot system.
According to him, the current and subsisting Senate Standing Rules is that of 2015, which provided for the election of Senate presiding and principal officers through secret ballot.
Answering a question as to which of the Senate rules he would prefer for the election of officers of the ninth Senate, the former governor of Kano State queried: “Between 2011 and 2015, which one comes last – because the second one supercedes the first one.”
He ruled out the possibility of changing the Senate rules with about one month to the end of the 8th National Assembly.
“We were able to do these rules together. We cannot change it now unless a member of the Senate moves for that change and somebody seconds it. It is going to be debated and the same thing also in the House of Representatives. It will be debated. If there is discrepancy between the Senate and the House, we will set up a Conference Committee. And they will bring it to us to find a date to sit down and pass it. Can you do that in one month?” he queried.
He promised to as a loyal party man abide by the APC’s decision if it zones the Deputy Senate president to another zone outside North-west where he hails from.
“I assure you that whatever the party decides, I am sure they will decide in consideration of the factors I raised. I am an obedient member of the party. I respect the party. But I don’t think that the party will decide to zone it anyhow. There must be considerations and based on those considerations, we will agree with them,” he explained.
Meanwhile, hundreds of youth under the platform of the North-west wing of Coalition of Northern Youth Organisations yesterday staged a peaceful rally at the gate of the National Assembly in Abuja, calling on Goje to declare for the Senate Presidency.
The youth carrying various banners, like ‘Goje for 9th Senate”, “Goje Best for Next Level,’ among others, described the senator as the most qualified to occupy the office of the Senate president.
Speaking at the rally, the Chairman of the group, Hassan Idris said the youth will not accept any unfair endorsement and purported endorsement of candidate from the North-east region.
“We owe it a sense of duty to demand and insist that, the contenders to the seat of the Senate president must subject themselves to a level-playing democratic process of equal opportunity,” he added.