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Cash-and-carry contest for leadership of 10th National Assembly

Unfolding developments around the con- test for the leadership of the 10th Nation- al Assembly is quite worrisome. Apart from the clear disregard for national unity and outright disrespect for Nigerians, especially the persons of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Sen. Kashim Shettima, being the President-elect and Vice-President-elect respectively, some of the aspiring candidates for the positions of Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives are neither concerned about the security and well-being of Nigeria nor are they in anyway disturbed about factors that could erode the electoral viability of our party – the APC. These are aspiring candidates for these positions, two of them Muslims from North-West aspiring for the position of Senate President and one of them from North-East aspiring for the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives, who are desperately mobilising sup- port in unethical manner without any regard or respect to the party and its leadership. Certainly, these aspirants know that there is a very high probability that once the party is allowed to finalise the processes of zoning positions of leadership, the probability is high that these positions would be zoned to other sections of the country outside theirs. In order to force their way and weaken the party, they are proceeding with mobilising sup- port for their aspirations in a very unethical manner. Some of them, including another aspirant for the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives from the North-West have sent bags of rice and sugar to members of the APC National Working Committee (NWC).

There are speculations that some of them are bribing party leaders with huge amounts of money to stop the party from zoning positions. There are also the disturbing reports from House of Representatives members-elect that one aspirant for the position of Speaker from the North-East apart from bribing members- elect with huge amounts of money is also offer- ing jeeps to members-elect if they will commit to electing him as the Speaker. This has reduced the contest for the leadership of 10th National Assembly to ‘cash-and-carry’. To say the least, this is both disappointing and worrisome.

How can APC elected representatives descend so low as to be using unethical methods of cash-and-carry to mobilise support for their aspirations? The two Senators-elect who are being alleged to be involved in such unethical methods are both Muslims from the North-West. Conscious that APC has already produced two Muslims as President-elect and Vice President-elect, it should be very clear that any person whose aspiration for the position of Senate President being the number three highest ranking position in the Federal Gov- ernment, who is a Muslim will not mean well for Nigeria and will be working to undermine the electoral viability of APC as a political party. Any Muslim aspiring for the position of Senate President has no respect for both the constitutions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the APC.

This is because Chapter II, Section 14(3) of the Nigerian constitution clearly out- lined that ‘the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.” With two Muslims already elected to be sworn in as President and Vice President of the Federal Republic on May 29, any attempt to consider another Muslim as Senate President will promote the dominance of Muslims in the Federal Government and will be injurious to national unity and peaceful co-existence of Nigeria as a sovereign entity, which must not be allowed.

Further, the APC constitution enjoined party leaders and members to “render service at all levels of governance, and to build a nation which will guarantee equal opportunity for all, mutual and peaceful co-existence, respect and understanding, eliminating all forms of dis- crimination and social injustice among Nigeri- ans, rendering selfless service that will rekindle a deep sense of patriotism and nationalism.” How can anyone aspiring for a position of leadership at all levels seeking to bribe his/ her way be said to be interested in rendering service? Such a person will only be interested in rendering service to himself and himself alone. Besides, given that both the two persons alleg- edly involved in this cash-and-carry approach to mobilising support for their emergence as Senate President are Muslims, it will be gross insensitivity to the peaceful co-existence of the country and disrespectful to Nigerians to allow them to continue to aspire for the position of Senate President.

In addition, any Muslim Senator-elect as- piring for the position of Senate President is disrespectful to the leaders of the country and the party, including President Muhammadu Bu- hari and Asiwaju Tinubu. However considered, the emerging risks threatening the peaceful co-existence of Nigeria, however, manifest, will squarely be interpreted based on the actions or inactions of the political leadership of the country in the persons of President Buhari as the current leader and Asiwaju Tinubu as his successor. Noting that Asiwaju Tinubu in his cam- paign document ‘Renewed Hope 2023: Action Plan for a Better Nigeria’ outlined that: “Our objective is to foster a new society based on shared prosperity, tolerance, compassion, and the unwavering commitment to treat each citizen with equal respect and due regard”, all aspiring candidates for both Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 10th National Assembly seeking to emerge through cash-and-carry methods clearly are not committed to the success of Asiwaju-led Federal Government.

If anything, they are only seeking to destroy our society and block the government of Asiwaju Tinubu from achieving its objective of fostering a new society. Once aspirants win leadership positions through cash-and-carry methods, their loyalty to the government led by Asiwaju Tinubu and the APC will be weak. Such a person could even hold the Government hostage in pursuance of their personal ambitions, which is known only to themselves. With all these worrisome devel- opments, the passive and almost unresponsive calmness of members of the APC NWC led by Sen. Abdullahi Adamu is giving credence to the speculation that some of these cash-and-carry aspirants for leadership positions in the 10th National Assembly may have bribed the NWC not to initiate actions to zone positions in the leadership of the 10th National Assembly. Oth- erwise, why is the NWC unable to convene meet- ings of organs of the party to invoke Article 13.4(vi) of the APC constitution, which directs the NWC to “propose electoral guidelines and regulations governing the conduct of elections to party offices at all levels, and procedure for selecting party candidates for elective offices”? It is very disturbing and highly unaccept- able that something as sensitive as electoral guidelines and regulations for electing leaders of the 10th National Assembly will be left to public speculation. At a time when opposition political parties are practically taken over by combinations of religious bigots and political opportunists who will go to any length to manu- facture lies aimed at manipulating gullible citi- zens to support them, we can’t allow the contest for leadership of the 10th National Assembly to continue unregulated. Everything must be done to mobilise all committed party leaders and members to call all APC elected representa- tives aspiring for positions in the leadership of the 10th National Assembly to order. Accordingly, the APC should take every step to sanction all those mobilising support for their so-called aspirations based on the cash- and-carry method. We must appeal to both Pres- ident Buhari and Asiwaju Tinubu to promptly urge our National Chairman, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu and the whole NWC to immediately restore constitutional order within the APC.

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