Why we picked Lawan for Senate President, APC reveals

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Senator Ahmed Lawan

After the choice of Senator Ahmed Lawan for Senate President, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is working out a zoning formula for other positions, the party said yesterday.

Lawan
Senator Ahmed Lawan

The APC said it settled for Ahmed Lawan for Senate President after wide consultations with the President and other leaders of the party, considering all options available.

The party also said the stand of the party not to share power in the National Assembly with the PDP was borne out of the fact that it has a clear majority and does not need the PDP to run a successful government.

APC’s National Publicity Secretary Lanre Issa-Onilu told reporters in Abuja that having settled for Lawan as Senate President, the party was working out an acceptable zoning formula for all other positions in the Senate and House of Representatives, including Speaker.

The formula will be announced within the shortest possible time, he added.

Issa-Onilu said the party will not allow what happened in 2015 to repeat itself, adding that what the leadership of the Eight Senate did was treachery and not democracy. All members with ambition are expected to situate such ambition within the larger interest of the party and the nation, he said.

Lawan’s choice was based on a wide consultation with senators-elect, governors, members of the National Working Committee, leaders of the party across the country and the President. It was presented to the senators and other stakeholders during its meeting at the Villa.

The party, according to Isaa-Onilu, does not hope to see any formal election of principal officers when the Assembly is inaugurated as the party hopes to have concluded its plan to present to members acceptable candidates on a consensus basis.

Issa-Onilu said the party considered allowing the zones to choose who should occupy the positions that will be zoned to them. “That is also an option because there is nothing that says that has to be the only option. It is one of the several options. You also know that before you arrive on an individual, we must have considered what zone he comes from,” he said, adding: “So, the party, in its own judgement, believes that we will not only zone, but go as far as to decide who from that zone is fit and proper as the Senate President.

“You should know that from every zone, we have ranking members in the National Assembly who are eminently qualified to be Senate president. But there is only one vacancy to be filled because we don’t have two Senate presidents. In this case, considering other factors, the party took a decision.

“When I say the party, not just the NWC, because there was a wide consultation across the country; the party leaders, governors and the President and so, it is not just Adams Oshiomhole or the NWC. That is the position of the ruling party.  So, the idea of taking the thing to the zones is an option which we have also considered before arriving at a particular individual from the  Northeast, only after we have zoned that position to the Northeast.”

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The APC spokesman insisted that the statement by the party’s National Chairman that it will not share positions with the PDP was not a threat as the country practices a presidential system of government where the winner takes all.

He said: “It was not a threat. That is democracy. I have listened to PDP react to this and in their usual style, they exhibited crass ignorance. What we practise in Nigeria is the Presidential system of government and in a presidential system of government, it is winner takes all. Once you win, you take whatever you want. There is no room for power sharing.

“We don’t need it because we don’t need them to run this government. We have enough members to run this government. In any case, when we were campaigning, we never told Nigerians that we were going to share power with any other party. We told them to entrust power on us fully because in the last four years, we have made good use of power and we will make better use of it in the next four years.

“Nigerians graciously assented to that. It will be a betrayal of that trust to go ahead and start sharing power with a party, particularly the PDP that has been rejected by Nigerians.

“We are smarting from the experience of the last four years, precisely what happened in 2015 when some traitors within the APC fold sold our birthright to an opposition party and some people now considered that as the normal thing. That action was not democratic. It was treachery and we thank God that Nigerians punished the people that were involved.

“They have been rejected with many of them now on compulsory retirement from politics. That is the verdict of the people of this country for compromising basic democratic principles, which say that when you have majority, you have the trust of the people to form a government without conceding anything to the people they have rejected. If they had wanted PDP, they would have voted for them.

“We pattern our presidential system along side that of the United States of America. When last did you see to the floor to elect Senate President. In their own case, the Speaker?  Any party that has the majority automatically has the Speaker.

“What we had in the last one year when those traitors defected back to where they belong was an aberration and not democratic. It is an expression of lack of value and a commitment to personal aggrandizement and not a commitment to national interest. We should not think that it has now become the new normal. If we truly wants to practize democracy, we should consign such to the dustbin of history and never allow such to happen.

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“The problem we have had with party politics in this country is the fact that no ideology drives any political party. But APC is daring to be different. What that means is that we are progressives and the worldview of progressives includes the ideology that speaks to those values that are very important to the common people.

“That is why most of the policies of this government has been pro-poor policies. All the social investment programmes were patterned along the world view of progressives.”

Speaking on members who might have ambition, Issa-Onilu said: “You must know that party discipline is collateral to party supremacy. So when you begin to have interest other than the collective  of the party that present you for an election, then you are voluntering excusing yourself from that fold of that party.

“So, what we expect of any member who has interest in anything is to work within the party structures to ensure he achieves his interest. But he may not succeed if that interest is at variance with the world view that this party shares. So, as we go to the next Senate, how it is done will be the way it will be done.

“You have principal officers and all of them are determined by simple majority and because Nigerians have given us more than enough, we have enough to elect all our officers. We don’t need a single vote from PDP. In any case, we don’t envisage any election on that day because we are going to present our members to occupy these positions as the collective position of the party and all our members are experienced politicians who understand what this means.

“When they get to the floor, they are going to read out the names and if the PDP so desires, they can bring a candidate up and follow that candidate with the number they have. It will be an exercise in futility for them to want to share from what Nigerians have taken from them. There are positions for minority party and the APC will not contest those position because it belongs to them.”

He said Senator Ali Ndume’s protest against the decision of the party to adopt Lawan as the sole candidate for the position of Senate presidency was his fundamental right, adding that he must have been hit badly by the news of Lawan’s adoption.

Onilu said: “He is only expressing his fundamental rights. But those rights were taken care on that very day you subscribed to be a member of a particular political party, in this case, the APC. That day, he signed up to abide by the position of the APC. We take what happened in the last 24 hours as how badly the news hit him.

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“He is  a human being and we are also conscious of the fact that Senator Ali Ndume is a respected member of APC, a leader in this party and he knows the right thing to do and on both sides, the right thing will be done. That also includes other members who have the same issues, but at the end of the day, party supremacy will have to take precedence. The party will also to conscious not to be found wanting and not to be seen to be breaking its own rules.

“What happened in the national Assembly when APC members kept the national budget for seven months is a betrayal of the party  on which platform they were elected and also a betrayal of the trust of the people of this country and Nigerians have passed a verdict on them.”

He said that at the consultative meeting with Senators-elect, governors, the National Working Committee and the President, it was presented to stakeholders that the party intends to present Senator Ahmed Lawan as the next Senate President, adding that since that came out, the party has not contradicted itself.

He said the zoning arrangement for all other positions was in the works. Just as Nigerians have been informed about our preferred candidate for the Senate position is, we will also tell the world what the zoning formula is for all other positions both in the Senate and House of Representatives. That will be done very shortly.

On the mode of selecting the leadership, he said “It is not the party that will determine whether there will be election or not, and that’s what I said but by the time we announce one person standing in with a clear majority on the floor and anybody who says  that I object to that then that person has to come up with a candidate and back it with his number.

“So there will be only one person being put forward and what do you have, a consensus. Even if there is going to be an election, it is going to be an exercise in fulfilling all righteousness. That’s what I am referring to.

We don’t envisage a situation where two APC senators will stand as candidates for a position. And that is if the APC has not done his homework. That is the essence of the majority we have and that is the practice in a proper presidential system of government.”