Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, yesterday said that the leadership of the ninth National Assembly should be allowed to emerge from elected parliamentarians.
Dogara said that any leadership that is forced on the National Assembly will fail.
The Speaker spoke in Abuja at the ongoing induction of Senators-elect and House of Representatives members-elect of the ninth National Assembly.
He noted that a situation where “leadership is forced and literally driven down the throat of elected members had never endured in the National Assembly.”
He advised Senators-elect and House of Representatives members-elect to look out for those who have thrown themselves into the race to see who will aggregate their aspirations better.
The least legislators could afford in the National Assembly, he said, is crisis on account of the leadership selection process.
Insisting that “I hope we will learn from history”, Dogara noted that leadership imposed on the National Assembly has never worked.
Dogara said, “Well, I guess that it is not a subject matter you may want just to offer an advice on because we are all parliamentarians those that have been elected, we will be here for four years to serve the people. Leadership is always some thing that emerges from people.
“Some of us that have been a bit old in the field, we know how that is done. My advice is that we stay calm to understand the people going in for these positions of leadership in the National Assembly.
“At the end of the day we are praying that we have those leaders who will be able to sustain what we have done in the Eight Assembly or even surpass what we have done. We don’t want leadership that will take us back.
“We have made a lot of mileage and we hope that we will be able to get the kind of leadership that will build on the achievements of this Assembly which is unparalleled in our legislative history.
“I will advise members to actually look out for those who have thrown themselves into the race to see who is it that will aggregate their aspirations better and then will be able to surpass the record of this Assembly.
On the role of party in the emergence of leadership at the National Assembly he said “Well, I’m not here to dictate to parties, the parties have their manifestoes, the way to do their businesses but one thing I have said and if you followed the business during this induction, it is always better to allow the leadership to emerge from the people.
“Where leadership has been forced upon the people, the history in the National Assembly, and in fact, the history of Nigeria, it has never endured.
“The least we could afford in the National Assembly is crisis on account of the leadership selection process.
“So who ever a party is sponsoring and supporting, they should make sure they have the backing of the legislature so that they (legislators) accept it because they own the process and they own the leadership.
“That way, it will be good but in a situation it is forced, literally driven down the throat, in most cases it doesn’t augur well. Even in the Senate it doesn’t augur well. In the House of Representatives too, it doesn’t augur well too.
“You are journalists, you should be able to dig into the archive and you will be able to find specific cases.”
On the sweeping powers of a Nigerian president and the way the president could be disciplined if need be, Dogara noted that unless Section 143 of the Constitution is amended, it is practically impossible to successfully impeach a Nigerian President.
He said “When people talk about the impeachment of the president, I just laugh because I know with Section 143 of the Constitution, it is not possible to actively activate impeachment of the president.”
He said that the onus lies on members of the National Assembly to make the parliament strong in the interest of the people.
Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume in his comment, said that the National Assembly is drifting and has been privatized to some extent.
He noted that when positions have been zoned, members of the zones should be allowed to choose among themselves.
Ndume also said that a situation where the presiding officer rules out a member who has contribution to make should be reconsidered.
Dogara laughed and noted that since Ndume is running for the Senate President, if he gets it he will know where the shoe pinches.
Dogara said, “If you become the Senate President, you will like to exercise such power because I know you very well. Certain unwritten rules are applied by the presiding officer to stabilize the chamber.
“If a member raises point of order, the presiding officer may even tell him to approach the chair.”