The Peoples Democratic Party has said its elected senators and members of the House of Representatives are constitutionally eligible to lead the National Assembly.
The PDP noted that positions of the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Deputy Senate President and the Deputy Speaker were not exclusively meant for any political party, but constitutional rights of every elected lawmaker in both chambers.
It, therefore, described as laughable, the move by the leadership of the APC and Buhari to impose leaders on both chambers.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, stated the position of the party in a statement in Abuja.
He said, “It is laughable and amounts to empty grandstanding and self-delusion for President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, to pose as if the presiding offices and committee chairmanship in the National Assembly are exclusive rights of the APC.
“President Buhari and Oshiomhole should wake up to the fact that the National Assembly belongs to no political party but to all Nigerians, who exercise their control through their elected representatives.
“For emphasis, Section 50 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is clear in providing that ‘There shall be:- (a) a president and a deputy president of the Senate, who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves; and (b) a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves.’
“Section 92 (1) makes the same provision for the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of State House of Assembly.”
The spokesman for the PDP insisted that the former ruling party had a role to play in the election of who would lead the two chambers.
He said, “The PDP, therefore, does not only have a constitutional say in the process of the emergence of the leadership of the 9th National Assembly, but will, as a matter of constitutional right, field candidates into presiding offices of both chambers, if need be.
“The PDP wishes to remind President Buhari and Oshiomhole that the APC had in the past benefited from the provisions of section 50, with the defection of then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, from the PDP to the APC, in October 2014, without relinquishing the speakership of the House to the PDP; a development that was applauded by President Buhari, as then opposition leader as well as the APC, through its then National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed.
“In fact, the former Minority Leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, echoed the constitutional provision that ‘the constitution requires only that the speaker or deputy speaker of the House of Representatives shall be elected by members of that House from among themselves.’”
You are ignorant, APC tells PDP leaders, senators
The APC, in its reaction to the PDP and its senators, said senators elected on the platform of the opposition party had no say on the decision of who became the Senate President.
It said it was also an aberration for opposition senators to take part in the election that would produce the Senate President and others.
The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr Lanre Isa-Onilu, said this in an interview with one of our correspondents.
He said in the presidential system of government, there was no need for election of principal officers to be held on the floor of the National Assembly.
According to him, once decisions on those who will occupy positions that belong to the party with majority have been taken, what is left is for the announcement to be made on the floor.
He said, “The PDP leaders and their senators-elect are ignorant. If they are not ignorant, they will know that they don’t have a say on who becomes the President of the Senate.
“The positions that belong to the party with the majority, belong to the party with the majority. The positions that belong to the party with the minority also belong to the party with the minority.
“That is what is being practised in the proper presidential system of government that we adopted in this country.
“So, it is not for the PDP senators to come and vote for who becomes the Senate President. If that has been happening before, it is an aberration.
“This position belongs to the APC. We have won majority and once you win the majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives, you determine those who are going to occupy those positions that belong to the party with majority.
“That is what is obtainable in the United States. You don’t even see them come to the floor to come and vote for the Senate President. Once they determine who will occupy those positions that belong to the party with majority, they will just come to the floor and announce.”