By Tony Edike
ENUGU – SENATE President, David Mark has said that both old and new members of the Senate have equal right to contest or hold appointments saying, there was no rule of the National Assembly that bars or shuts any members from holding such offices.
Addressing members of the National Assembly-elect during an induction workshop organized for senators and House of Representatives members from seven Northern states of Kano, Zamfara, Adamawa, Yobe, Kebbi, Taraba, Gombe and the Federal Capital Territory at the Protea Hotel Nike Lake Resort, Enugu, Mark said that various media reports on the issue were untrue and based on ignorance.
He pointed out that though the existing Rule 97 (1) F of the Senate recognizes ranking senators, there was no provision in it barring any senator whether new or old from contesting or holding any appointment, declaring that appointments in the senate were not the exclusive reserve of the ranking members.
His words: “Let me touch on a topical issue, the issue of ranking. I believe that the media has taken it over, some out of sheer ignorance and others out of sheer mischief. It is not a new rule in the Senate. In our standing order, our Rule 97 (1) F states that there is ranking in the senate and the same thing in the House of Representatives.
“All that we have done is to explain what ranking means but a lot of people are making comments on it, I read some of them obviously out of total ignorance or just the whole essence of mischief.
“We are not barring anybody from contesting or anybody from holding appointments within the senate, and because Adamawa is one of the groups here, Senator Maina, for those of you from Adamawa, is the Deputy Whip in the current senate; he came in 2007 and was made the Deputy Whip in 2007.
Senator Yau from Zamfara ,who is Chairman of a Committee is not a ranking Senator. We have Senate Danlami from Taraba, he is chairman of a Committee but he is not a ranking Senator.
Senator Kabiru Gaya, the Deputy Minority Whip is not a ranking Senator.
“The point I am trying to make is that people just want to make a mountain out of a molehill. It is not necessary. Because there are no too many things in the news now, I can understand why the media is just emphasizing on that.
People say we have barred others from contesting on the floor of the senate, people say we should throw it open so that everybody irrespective of political parties can contest, they say all sort of things.
“Please, Distinguished members of the National Assembly, we are distinguished and honorable enough not to do anything that we think is not in the best interest of this country. We have only explained what Section 97 (1) F in the Senate already said, and I think in the House they have a similar rule, so it is nothing new.”