The All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party on Wednesday traded words over an alleged plot by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, to interfere in the process leading to the emergence of leaders of the 9th National Assembly.
The APC had earlier on Wednesday said that it was aware of steps allegedly being taken by Saraki, Dogara and the PDP caucus to influence the emergence of the next Senate president and other leaders of the ninth National Assembly.
It said the plan, which was aimed at ensuring that APC preferred candidates for the National Assembly’s positions did not emerge winners, would fail.
The party’s Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekinni Nabena, said this while speaking with journalists in Abuja.
He stated, “We are aware of the scheming by Saraki, Dogara and the PDP caucus to interfere with the emergence of the incoming National Assembly leadership.
“Their plans are bound to fail as the APC is a strong party with unity of purpose.”
While asking Saraki and Dogara to desist from manipulating the process, the APC chieftain said the party had learnt its lesson from what happened in the National Assembly in 2015 which led to the emergence of the outgoing leaders.
Describing the outgoing leaders as impostors, he accused them of sabotaging the party and hijacking its mandate.
He said the party would not allow a repeat of the current scenario where outgoing leaders were allegedly frustrating efforts of the Muhammadu Buhari government to reposition the country.
He added that the choice of the party for the next National Assembly must be respected by all federal lawmakers.
Nabena added, “The APC has learnt its lesson from the outgoing National Assembly when impostors masquerading as party men sabotaged our party and hijacked our mandate. Affliction shall not rise up the second time.
“The efforts of the Adams Oshiomhole leadership of the party are commendable in achieving a fair selection and zoning arrangement that appeals to a greater section of the party stakeholders.
“The APC is the overwhelmingly majority party in the National Assembly and has a legitimate right to make its choices on the selection and zoning of principal offices.
“The APC family is in agreement on the party’s supremacy and the PDP and other opposition parties should focus on their minority positions.”
But in defiance to the stand of the APC, Senator Ali Ndume has signified his intention to contest the Senate presidency.
Efforts to get the reaction of Ndume failed on Wednesday as consistent calls made to his mobile phone were not answered and he had yet to respond to the text message sent to him as of the time of filing this report.
It is difficult to determine senators who are in Ndume’s camp because he did not declare his ambition in a public glare where the elected lawmakers in his camp would have featured.
APC, Presidency want to subdue N’Assembly –PDP
But the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the allegations of Nabana showed that he and some other APC leaders did not understand the concept of democracy and separation of powers as well as the workings of the parliament.
In an interview with one of our correspondents, Ologbondiyan accused President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, of interfering with the election of the National Assembly principal officers.
Ologbondiyan said, “It is laughable for him to have made such a submission. It shows that they do not understand the workings of democracy. It might interest him to know that Adams Oshiomhole, on the day that the Senate and the House of Representatives will be convoked, may end up sitting at the gallery. So maybe, he will read out the names of his own presiding officers from the gallery or in his dream at home.
“…They are the ones creating problems in the parliament. They are the ones who said they would not recognise the party that has over 40 senators in the process of the day-to-day activities of the National Assembly. They are the ones who do not understand how presiding officers are elected in the National Assembly and they claim they will go and read out names on the floor. So, they can never accuse the PDP of interference.”
He added, “The interference is coming from the Presidential Villa and the APC. They want to subdue the independence of the parliament in a manner they tried to subdue the electoral wishes of Nigerians. What they should understand is that the PDP is a democratic party and the PDP is in agreement with Nigerians who have decided to live their lives as democrats. So we would not allow them to suppress the wishes of the people.”
Meanwhile, a legislative group made up of old and serving lawmakers, the Faculty Board of the Initiatives, has called on political parties and external forces to allow members of the 9th National Assembly to choose their leaders without interference.
The group, led by a former chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Eseme Eyiboh, made the call in Abuja on Wednesday while addressing a press conference.
Eyiboh was accompanied by Messrs Nelson Alapa, Chris Eta, Ibrahim Buba and Chukwuemeka Ujam.
He said, “This country can only be great if we allow the independence of the legislature, the stability of the legislature and, of course, the separation of powers.”