By Patrick Azamosa
THE ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, has said that it is working on building a National Assembly whose actions and practices will be in line with what obtains in developed democracies across the world, and take it away from what has been the practice in the national legislature in recent times.
The party said this desire has informed its actions, especially with its decisions on the election of the leadership of the Assembly and its key officers, and wants all lawmakers elected on its platform toe the party’s line.
The party has endorsed Senator Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North) for senate president, a move that is raising dust in the party with Senator Ali Ndume (Borno South) insisting that he would not step down for Lawan.
Expressing the position of the party in an interview with Vanguard, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu said the party’s insistence on deciding who holds what position in the National Assembly was in line with standard practice in developed democracies across the world and that any party member, who was not ready to abide by the decision of the party was free to return the seat to the party and take a walk rather than staying in the party and playing anti-party.
According to him, “asking for autonomy of National Assembly to decide its own affairs is a complete misunderstanding of what the National Assembly is all about, there is nothing like that in any National Assembly anywhere in the world. National Assembly is not a political party, there is a ruling party, there is opposition, but National Assembly itself is not the opposition, it is the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the National Assembly that is the opposition.
“The APC members are members of the ruling party and they are there to implement the policies and programmes of the party as promised to Nigerians on which basis they voted for us. So, when you get to the National Assembly you don’t go to obliterate the dividing line between the opposition and the ruling party, ones you do that our lawmakers are betraying the majority who voted for us on the basis of our campaign.
“There is no such thing as the National Assembly as a unit, they are only a unit in terms of their responsibility to pass a law and do their oversight, besides that our lawmakers are supposed to be defending the position of the ruling party, because they are part of the ruling party and the opposition will be defending the position of the opposition party, it is the national interest that will mediate between the two divide.
“What has been happening in the past which has appeared to the people as the normal thing is completely wrong and it is not democracy. So, when you go to the National Assembly and you have the majority, all the committees are there so that they can assist the ruling party to fulfill its promises, so if you put critical committees in the hands of the opposition, because they are not part of the manifestos that are to be implemented you leave yourself open to fail, you don’t need them because you are to choose committee by majority and you have the majority and you want to implement your own programmes.
No sharing of power
“Why should you go and share power, I am not saying it could be ruled out completely, it can only happen when if there is an issue to pass into law and you need two third and you don’t have it and need opposition to achieve it and they make their demands, that is what politics is all about,” he said.
Speaking on the alleged plans by some senators including former Gombe State governor, Sen. Danjuma Goje and former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume to contest the position of the Senate President despite the position of the party leadership endorsing Senate leader, Ahmed Lawan for the position, Issa-Onilu said so far the duo are within their democratic right to seek the position, but that their decision between now and when the party takes its final position will determine how they will be treated within the party.
“If all our members will be good party men we do have the number to elect our National Assembly leadership, those insisting that they want to be Senate Presidents for instance are within their rights as members of the party, their interest is democratic, what the party now does between now and when they will be going in to elect their officers is what is important.
“You must understand that you cannot be a member of the National Assembly if you are not a member of a political party, so it is the party that sponsored you and it is because you have accepted to abide by the dictates of the party, it is like any other group or association that we all belong to, when you join you have agreed to abide by their rules, so if you now emerge after the party has presented you and given you their own ticket and on that you have become a lawmaker you are expected to abide by whatever the party decides, but you have a right to fight within the party so that the party can adopt you, but once that fails, whoever has won within the party you all have to back him. That is party politics.
“If you go outside of that you must have made up your mind that you are leaving the party, so anyone that now goes ahead to be working with the opposition, that is carrying party politics too far and you are saying you don’t believe in that party policies anymore, the decent thing for you to do at that point is to drop the party seat, that is what you will see in advanced democracies, because once you say I don’t agree with you it means you do not belong to that association again, but you cannot continue to be on that seat given to you by the party and begin to oppose it from within and keeping camp with their enemy or with opposition.
“If any senator runs for the senate presidency seat against the position of the APC with the support of the PDP it will be considered as anti party,” he said, adding that, “It will take a while for the people to get to the normal parliamentary practice which the APC is aspiring to achieve, because what has been happening in the National Assembly is completely abnormal,” he said.