National Assembly Leadership Elections Valid
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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY LEADERS WERE VALIDLY ELECTED – APC SHOULD LET NIGERIA BE
On June 6, 2015, the All Progressive Congress gathered most of its National Assembly legislators together in Abuja, in an attempt to hijack the leadership of the National Assembly, in what it termed a ‘mock’ election. Nigerians across the land, rose up to condemn that crass display of political arrogance, by the APC and mobilisation commenced nationwide, to call the bluff of the APC, by rejecting the nocturnal choices of the APC, for the National Assembly leadership.
PROCLAMATION OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
By Monday, June 8, 2015, the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (Retd.), had issued appropriate directives, to the Clerk of the National Assembly, for the proclamation of the two chambers, on Tuesday, June 9, 2015. This was duly advertised and communicated to all the legislators and indeed the whole world. Thus, the process of proclamation of the National Assembly, was validly initiated by the President.
ELECTION OF THE SENATE PRESIDENT AND HIS DEPUTY IS VALID
Upon the Clerk of the National Assembly receiving a formal letter from the President, for the proclamation of the National Assembly, power had changed hands, from the President, to the National Assembly bureaucracy (the Clerk), as upon issuance of the letter authorizing proclamation, the President had discharged his own constitutional obligation and had become functus officio, either to delay, halt or abort the process of proclamation, or even to direct a different course of action, such as convening a meeting of senators of the APC extraction only, at another venue. The letter of the President to inaugurate the National Assembly takes precedence over and above any other internal correspondence, with APC legislators. This is because the President is incompetent to issue another directive, by mail, sms or otherwise, to his own party members only, capable of subverting or undermining the proclamation of the National Assembly, a process which involves legislators of other political parties and the APC could not seek to impose its own internal wranglings, to hold Nigeria to ransom.
At least 75 Senators were present in the Senate, going by the election of the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who polled 54 votes to Senator Ali Ndume’s 20 votes, with 1 abstention, making 75. So, 51 senators could not have been absent, from the stable of the APC, if the total number of Senators is 109. Thus, whether one goes by the simple majority of 55 Senators, as prescribed by the Constitution, or that of 38 Senators, as prescribed by the Rules of the Senate, the Senate leadership was properly and validly elected. It is indeed unfortunate, that some Senators chose not to be present at the inauguration, for whatever reasons. Their absence, without lawful excuse, will not invalidate the proceedings of the Senate of June 9, 2015. Upon proclamation of the Senate by the President through the Clerk, the business of the Senate had commenced. There was then immediately a transition of power, from the President to the Clerk. The only duty of the Clerk was to proclaim. The immediate assignment after that is the election of the principal officers, especially that of the Senate President and his Deputy. That could not be postponed to await the APC senators, whatever party assignment that they had secured for themselves temporarily.
WHY THE APC CANNOT COMPLAIN
1. The APC participated in the proclamation of the National Assembly, through its elected members, so it was aware of it and was part of it.
2. The APC participated in the election of the principal officers of the National Assembly, through its elected members.
3. The person elected as Senate President is a Senator of the APC, who was nominated by another APC senator and his nomination was also seconded by another APC senator.
4. Other APC senators present, who may have been opposed to the nomination of the APC Senate President, did not forward or suggest a contrary nomination, meaning that Senator Bukola Saraki was unopposed and elected by ALL 75 senators present. That is the position of the proceedings of June 9. 75 senators out of 109 are competent to elect or adopt the Senate President, as they have done.
5. APC participated actively in the election of Deputy Senate President. An APC senator, Ali Ndume, contested with a PDP senator, Ike Ekweremadu. Ndume was nominated by an APC senator and his nomination was seconded by an APC senator. 20 APC senators voted for Ndume, thus legitimizing the process.
6. More APC senators have since endorsed Saraki’s leadership, by submitting themselves to his authority and jurisdiction, to swear them in.
7. Going by the Supreme Court decision in Akhiwu v. The Principal Lotteries Officer, Mid-Western State of Nigeria, (1972) ALL NLR 233, “where a party has consented to the procedure adopted at the trial in the High Court and in fact suffers no injustice, it is too late for him to complain on appeal that the wrong procedure was followed.”
This same scenario played out itself in the House of Representatives.
1. The House was proclaimed by the President through the Clerk.
2. Two APC members, Hon. Gbajabiamila and Hon Dogara, submitted themselves on behalf of their party, to the process of election and accepted their nominations by other APC members of the House.
3. The election of the Speaker was between two APC members. Same with deputy speaker, it was between Hon Lasun and Hon Monguno, both APC members.
So how can APC go to court, to challenge its own election, which it participated in fully? The APC as a political party, has no locus standi or recognition by law, in the election or indeed the affairs of the National Assembly. So it can’t go to court. It is only Senators and the Reps that can approach the court.
And what on earth will be the grouse of the APC legislators in court? That they were not allowed to attend the inauguration? By who? By their party, the APC? Or by the President, who had already directed the Clerk to proclaim the National Assembly?
The APC senators who were deliberately absent, on a frolic of their own, did not send any official letter or give any reason to the Clerk, for their inexplicable absence and they did not request officially, for the programme of inauguration to be delayed or postponed, even when such will not be countenanced.
I believe that the contrived absence of a legislator, on the day of inauguration of a legislative house, will not suffice to stop the process, if a quorum was otherwise met. In this case, the APC has no reason to canvass at all, in respect of the election of the speaker and his deputy. It was purely an APC election. The law does not recognize the face of the APC, as a political party, on the floor of the National Assembly, but rather the individual legislators.
The best option before APC presently, is not some specious or cloudy legal process, but rather a political solution, if it can muster enough will and support, to remove the principal officers already elected, on the floors of their respective Houses. But that will be a needless distraction, as we need the Senate urgently, to settle down to appoint other principal officers, to constitute the committee members and most importantly, to approve the much awaited ministerial list, of the President.
APC as a political party, cannot hold Nigeria to ransom, due purely to its own internal crisis. It precipitated this whole problem, through the illegal and sham mock elections, that it arrogantly conducted, as a demonstration of its bogus prowess and political dominance, which was clearly unnecessary. My very humble advice is that the APC should lie low and let Nigeria move forward. Nigerians voted for APC, in order to depart from this feudalistic dominance of the political space, by some set of people, and we cannot seek to be going back to the PDP vomit, that we have all gloriously escaped from.
God bless Nigeria