Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, the National Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), has maintained that his party does not require the support of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, lawmakers-elect to choose the Senate President, the Speaker and the other principal officers in the ninth National Assembly.
According to him, in advanced democracies the party in the majority across the legislative houses automatically produces the leadership of the lawmaking arm of government; stressing that Nigeria will toe that path in the ninth assembly.
Speaking in an interview with journalists in Abuja, the APC spokesman said the National Working Committee (NWC) of his party was right in endorsing certain lawmakers-elect for National Assembly leadership.
Buttressing his point with the goings on in the US Congress, Issa-Onilu said: “On this matter of choosing the leaders of the National Assembly, the APC is absolutely right. What the National Working Committee of the party is doing is in line with international democratic practice.
“What we practice in Nigeria is called Presidential system of government, which is fashioned after the American Presidential system.
“In party politics as we have in Nigeria, the only recognised vehicle for electoral contest is political party. What this means is that anyone who wishes to contest to become a senator or member of the House of Representatives or for any other political office for that matter must be a member of a political party.
“I have read many otherwise experienced politicians mixing things up in this regard. Let me state clearly that the National Assembly is not a political party. So, it is an abnormality for the National Assembly or the Senate or House of Representatives as institutions to be in opposition to the executive.
“The opposition in the National Assembly is PDP and other political parties that have members elected into legislative arm.
“The members of the National Assembly elected on the tickets of the APC cannot be in opposition to their own government. They are part of the ruling party. They are in the National Assembly to help the ruling party deliver on its mandate.
“And because they are in the majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, they automatically produce the leaders of the two chambers. Let me emphasise the word produce, not elect. The rule allows for simple majority and the APC has that already.
“You may need to ask those who are posting unfounded opinion about this issue: ‘when did they see the Democrat and the Republican in the United States’ congress conducting elections as a unit to choose leaders?’ If the Democrat is in the majority in the House of Representatives in the US, they automatically produce the Speaker and other leadership positions that belong to the majority party. The Republican would also produce leaders for the positions that belong to the minority positions.
“If the situation were reversed, then the leadership positions would be reversed in like manner. The respective party normally handles this matter and they would return to the chambers to announce their respective new leaders. The process of election in the chambers, therefore, becomes a mere formality.
“As a party in the majority in the two chambers, the APC does not require the support of the the PDP members to elect the Senate President, the Speaker and the other principal positions. Just as the PDP does not require the support of the APC to elect the minority leaders and those other positions that belong to the minority party. This is the convention.”