Fresh crisis over election of NASS leaders

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The incoming members of the National Assembly have been thrown into fresh crisis over the voting pattern to be adopted in the election of the presiding officers of the two chambers of the national Assembly – the Senate and the House of Representatives. The lawmakers are divided over the adoption of direct open voting and open secret voting pattern.

Several lawmakers elected on the platform of the ruling All
Progressives Congress (APC) propose open ballot, probably in voice votes or the APC brand of direct primary elections.

However, legislators in the opposition Peoples Democratic (PDP) propose that the election must be an open secret ballot system.

The Ninth National Assembly will be inaugurated in June, and the lawmakers will commence legislative duties with election of presiding officers, who thereafter, appoint the principal officers.

The open voting pattern is amenable to intimidation and victimization.

The lawmakers are exposed to political hazards as the leadership of the ruling APC has already endorsed candidates for the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, a decision that opposed by some other APC lawmakers in the race for the leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly.

The APC leaders have endorsed the Senate leader, Ahmed Lawan, from the north east, for the Senate President and House Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, from the south west for the Speaker of the House.

Insistence on open voting provides opportunity for APC leaders to enforce members to align with the party decision and be coerces into submitting to the assumed party supremacy.

Already, as some lawmakers opposed the endorsement of certain aspirants for the senate and speaker, APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had threatened that the party leadership will apply the whip on any APC legislator who goes contrary to the imposition of the party leaders in the endorsement of Lawan and Gbajabiamila.

Senator Ali Ndume has expressed vehement disagreement to the imposition of Lawan as senate president by the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, as well as Tinubu in the imposition opf Gbajabiamil as speaker. Ndume had insisted on contesting for the senate president against Lawan. The Ndume stance threatens the APC chance of producing
the preferred presiding officers of the two chambers of the National Assembly in the belief that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) might support the opposition candidates for the NASS leadership.

While the mix-up persists in the APC, the lawmakers in the PDP and the party leadership insist on open secret voting for the election of the presiding officers of the National Assembly. Moreover, the former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, is also fighting that the deputy senate president be zoned to the south east by the APC. Kalu has threatened that if APC does not zone the deputysenate president to the south east, he will contest for the senate president, which in turn will deepen the divisions in the ruling APC.

The campaign for the presiding officers of the National Assembly ha gained momentum. The north central has joined the race to challenge Gbajabiamila and the south west APC for the Speaker of the House.

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