Crisis is imminent in the National Assembly as members-elect of the Senate and the House of Representatives from opposition parties may not be given the opportunity to participate in the election of their presiding officers in June when the 9th Assembly will be proclaimed, Vanguard can authoritatively report.
This is because, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC has perfected plans to "produce" and not elect the leaders.
This came as an aspirant to the office of the Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabimila is said to have upped his campaign strategies by sponsoring at least two Muslim colleagues from each state to Saudi Arabia for Umrah.
This is aside speculations that one of the speakership aspirants doled out N250,000 to each member-elect during the just concluded induction ceremony in Abuja.
APC says it had the number to elect the officers of the two chambers without recourse to the opposition especially the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Besides, the party is also working assiduously to prevent the nomination of any member-elect for the available positions on the floor on the inauguration day unless the ones selected previously selected by the party.
Vanguard's investigations, yesterday, revealed that the party is foreseeing a situation where the PDP may hijack the process and re-enact the 2015 scenario where it shared positions with the PDP in the person of Senator Ike Ekweremadu who became the Deputy Senate President as against the party's choice.
More so, the party does not also want the emergence of any member as either senate president, deputy, House Speaker and deputy House speaker other than the individuals selected by its leadership.
Constitutional position on NASS leadership
But the proposed method is seen to be at variance with the letters and provision of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
It is also seen to be a way of circumventing, for instance, the standing orders of the House of Representatives.
Section 50 (1) of the 1999 constitution provides that the members of the two chambers shall elect for themselves leadership.
Standing Orders on House Leadership
Similarly, the standing orders of the House of Representatives, section 2 of 9th edition (reprinted March, 23, 2016) gave a detailed steps of how the Speaker and the Deputy shall emerge.
It states thus: "Election of Presiding Officers
2(1) The election of the Speaker shall take precedence over any other business and no motion for adjournment or any other motion shall be entertained while it is proceeding and the House shall continue to meet, if necessary, beyond its ordinary daily time of adjournment, notwithstanding any Standing or Special Order, until a Speaker is declared elected
(2) A member-elect may, before taking the Oaths prescribed in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution, take part in the elections of Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
3) The election shall be conducted in the following manner:
(a) A member-elect, addressing the clerk shall propose another member-elect with legislative experience as member of the National Assembly to be Speaker and shall move that such member-elect, "Do take the Chair as Speaker of the House of Representatives".
(b) A member-elect when nominated and seconded shall inform the House whether he accepts or declines the nomination
(c) the member-elect so nominated may address the House for a maximum period of 5 minutes for the purpose of (b) above.
(e) If more than one member-elect is proposed as Speaker, the Clerk shall, after the second nomination, if any is made and seconded and accepted or declined, ask, "Are there any further nominations?", and if there are no further nominations, the Clerk shall say, " I declare the nominations closed".
(f) When two or more members-elect are nominated and seconded as Speaker and where the two or more accept, the election shall be conducted as follows:
(i) By electronic voting; or
(ii) Voting by secret ballot which shall be conducted by the Clerks-at-Table, using the list of the members-elect of the House, who shall each be given a ballot paper to cast his vote, with the proposer and seconder as tellers.
(iii) The clerk of the House shall submit the result of the voting to the Clerk to the National Assembly who shall then declare the member-elect who has received the highest number of votes as Speaker-Elect
Election abnormal situation - APC spokesperson
When contacted on the matter, the National Publicity Secretary of the ruling party, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu said that the election on the floor was an abnormality.
According to him, the normal process is for the party to produce a choice candidate for the positions get the members to formerly endorse them without necessarily the inputs of the PDP.
He said: "Before we get to the National Assembly, the ideal thing is that we would have concluded on who is going for what and we have the majority. So, we are producing. When we get there, election is a formality. It is just to fulfil all righteousness because they don't have the number to upstage our own arrangement. So, right from our own end, we have concluded that we have produced them here. We are only taking them to go and follow the routine."
Reminded what the House rules stated, Onilu said "That itself is an abnormal situation because the ideal thing is that if you are a member of a party, all struggles must be within your own party structure. "
Once the party eventually agreed, all if you will go and execute. That's why you are a member of that party. But if you now go an do what Bukola did like in 2015, it is an abnormal situation. So, the rule is taking care of such abnormal situation. That's why you have never had a situation in the US where two members of the same party will go and slug it out on the floor."
He insisted that "We are working to prevent two persons from APC emerging 'which is the normal situation"
Bago Camp reacts on the proposed method
The camp of another front-line aspirant to the speakership, Hon. Mohammed Bago when contacted on the matter said that APC should learn from the event of 2015.
Speaking officially on behalf of the camp, a former member of the House and friend to Bago, Hon. Bimbo Daramola said that the proper process would be to allow each geopolitical zone decide who goes into the election.
He warned the party not to compromise the choice of members.
He said: "My take will be that the constitution says the members shall choose for themselves one among the. That is more like a statute informed approach. How a leader emerges is that there will be a nomination and then, there will be a secondment and after that, the person accepts and they will proceed to election. But again, the approach of the party is to ensure that they don't go into the election divided, if that happens, the party may be vulnerable as we have seen in recent past. So, yes, it is fair for the party to also have a guided view of that, but allow the process to be navigated to the extent that choices of members are not compromised.
"What I think is proper and right will be that yes, recognition of geopolitical balancing as espoused by the constitution and then, let the zone where that is going to decide who goes into the election. Anything to the contrary would eventually signal the kind of; because politicians are always desirous of taking advantage anyway.
"What happened at the Senate last time was that an opportunity existed and then, people cashed in on it. Not so much of that happened in the House of Representatives because the guys were in the room and they all voted. Now, we have had the benefit of hindsight, I think the party will do well to be guided by that experience. 114 opposition members are still very strong to pose a lot of contention.