Clamour for religious, zonal balancing in National Assembly leadership mounts
Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) and Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL) yesterday stressed the need to consider the interest of Christians and other segments of the country in the choice of Speaker, House of Representatives.
Deputy National Publicity Secretary of CUPP, Mark Adebayo, at a media briefing in Abuja argued that it would be awkward to allow Moslems to be Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The group faulted All Progressives Congress (APC’s) decision to micro-zone Senate President and Speaker positions to Ahmed Lawan (North East) and Femi Gbajabiamila (South West).
It argued that the essence of democracy as practiced globally was the right of individuals to vote and be voted for, therefore, micro-zoning positions to individuals was undemocratic and condemnable.
CUPP recalled that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the umbrella body of Christians in the country had already raised the red flag on the issue and as such it was important for members-elect to take cognizance of the fact.
It, however, supported the candidacy of Olajide Olatubosun for Speaker of the House, adding that it behooves the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe questionable characters eyeing the speakership position.
Besides, COSEYL rose from a meeting in Aba Abia State yesterday insisting that it would amount to violating the federal character principle if the South East zone is denied the next Speaker of the House of Representatives after the North and South West produced the President and Vice President.
In a statement issued by its President, Goodluck Egwu Ibem and Secretary Comrade Kanice, the group decried the All Progressives Congress (APC) zoning pattern of the Ninth National Assembly, describing it as parochial and a violation of the spirit of oneness and inclusiveness.
Also, Pastor Zikeyi John of the Ultimate Power Ministry in Abraka, Delta State, has joined the clamour for fair play and equity in the sharing of national offices in order not to shortchange Christians.
In a statement on the National Assembly leadership polls and the 2023 presidency, he said: “Christians must insist on their rights, despite the obvious undercurrent to raise the ‘competence’ argument as a smokescreen to continue the tradition of nepotism and sectional dominance.
“Balancing the presidency and political offices are central to guaranteeing inclusion in Nigeria. The country is too fragile, with widespread insecurity, reports of ethnic and religious cleansing and partisanship to disregard zoning principle and religious sensibilities.
“The recently released 2019 Fragile States Index ranks Nigeria as the 14th most fragile state in the world, scoring 98.5 out of a maximum 120 points, even much worse than Mali. Insecurity and marginalization of ethnic and religious groups have not helped.
“There are fears that more crises will follow if equity takes a flight in the sharing of political offices. The National Assembly will be inaugurated and for the first time since the return to democracy the heads of the two arms – Senate and House of Representatives – may be Moslems given the trend of politicking since APC has anointed Lawan and Gbajabiamila for Senate President and Speaker.”
Meanwhile, representative of Delta Central Senatorial District, Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege, has assured that the amended Senate standing order of 2015 will not be used when the Ninth Senate reconvenes on Tuesday.
His body language indicates that tomorrow’s inauguration may not be as smooth as expected, if there is any attempt to use the 2015 standing order as amended.
Omo-Agege, who is one of the aspirants for Deputy President of the Senate, was accused of allegedly leading thugs to steal the Senate’s mace during plenary in April 2018.
He argued that the standing rules were no longer valid and subsisting in law, describing them as Saraki’s standing rules, saying he was confident of emerging Deputy Senate President tomorrow.
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