The Peoples Democratic Party has reacted to moves by the ruling All Progressive Congress to ensure that its members fill up leadership positions in the ninth National Assembly.
The party said its elected senators and members of the House of Representatives are constitutionally eligible and can seek election into any presiding office of both chambers of the National Assembly.
PDP in a statement on Tuesday noted that the position of the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and their deputies are not the exclusive preserves of any political party, but a constitutional right of every elected lawmaker in both chambers.
The party was reacting to comments by chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, who on Monday said that his party would not share power with the opposition in the incoming National Assembly.
Mr Oshiomhole also said that the APC would hold chairmanship of key committees.
“It is therefore laughable and amounts to empty grandstanding and self-delusion for President Muhammadu Buhari and the factional National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, to posture as if the presiding offices and Committee Chairmanship in the National Assembly are exclusive rights of the APC,” PDP said in a statement Tuesday.
The party said it would field candidates into leadership positions in the assembly ‘if need be.’
“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 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 statement signed by Kola Ologbondiyan, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, reminded the APC of times past it had benefitted from defections.
“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, Rt. Hon. 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 a 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, Hon. 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”.
“Moreover, in June 2015, Hon. Terkimbi Ikyange and Hon. Peter Azi, both of APC, were elected Speakers of Benue and Plateau State Houses of Assembly respectively, though their party, the APC, was minority in both Houses.
“The PDP notes that the party offices in the legislature are the Majority and Minority Leaders and Deputy Leaders as well as Majority and Minority Whips and Deputy Whips, and our party will take decisions on this in due course.
“The PDP, therefore, cautions President Buhari, Oshiomhole and the APC to respect the independence of the legislature, end their imposition plot and sowing of seeds of discord among the lawmakers, as such is directly against our overall national interest.”