The management of the National Assembly has allegedly chosen to conduct a secret balloting ahead of the election of the 9th presiding officers on Tuesday.
Report has it that the secret balloting was picked to enable lawmakers vote their desired candidates and also avoid malice and bitterness after the election.
The Standing Rules of the National Assembly only however prescribed an open-secret system.
The leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) had warned its lawmakers against voting for its anointed candidates, Senator Ahmed Lawan and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, for Senate President and Speaker respectively.
It further warned that any lawmaker who does not obey the party’s decision would be punished.
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the National Leader of the APC, had few weeks ago said that all member of the party no matter who he/she is, must obey the leadership decision, adding that whoever would not obey the party’s directives should leave. He further noted that the APC would not allow a repeat of what happened in 2015 where Senate President Bukola Saraki emerged instead of its preferred candidate.
Some APC lawmakers are however not comfortable with the party’s directives. An APC-lawmaker-elect had once on condition of anonymity described the way the party National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, gives instruction to lawmakers as a headmaster instructing his pupils.
The ruling party which currently has over 60 senators in the red chamber had vehemently rejected the option of secret balloting. The rejection is no doubt because it is very interested in knowing which of its lawmakers disobeyed its instructions.
Meanwhile Punch says that a senior member of the National Assembly management team had on condition of anonymity disclosed that there is no way the management will introduce any new voting method which is different from the rules in the book.
The source further noted that there were previous attempts to amend the rules to provide option for secret balloting, but the idea was however frustrated.
“There is no way management will come up with a voting method different from what is contained in the rule book distributed to elected members since April,” the senior NASS management member secretly told punch.
Some APC lawmakers ahead of the poll on Tuesday have given an indication that it would vehemently resist secret balloting.
For instance Senator Ovie Omo-Agege who was recently endorsed by the ruling party for the position of Deputy Senate President told journalist that there was no time the 8th NASS amended the rules to accommodate secret balloting.
He further noted that if anything like envelops are shared for the balloting on Tuesday, it would be resisted. Omo-Agege also expressed confidence that he would emerge as the 9th Assembly Deputy Senate President.
Lawan says he has 60 APC and over 30 PDP senators-elect in the bag
Also, Ahmed Lawan, the anointed candidate of the APC for senate president, had expressed confidence that he will emerge as President of the Senate, adding that he has the support of 99 senators-elect.
If 99 senators votes for Lawan on Tuesday, it then means that over 30 PDP-senators are among.
60 APC senator-elect had earlier endorsed Lawan. Only their votes are enough to give him victory on Tuesday. The Lawan campaign group listed the names of the senators-elect who declared their support for him.
The group however decided to protect the over 30 PDP senators who had allegedly agreed to vote for the APC anointed candidate.
If Lawan emerges as senate president on Tuesday, it would be the first time a party in power would successfully impose a candidate on lawmakers. The outgoing Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, had few weeks ago noted that since 1999, the imposition of candidate by party in power had always failed. The 9th NASS might however be an exception.
Senator Ali Ndume reacts to endorsement of Lawan by 60 APC-Senators
Mr. Lawan’s main challenger for the position, Ali Ndume, in his reaction however noted that he was not interested in the alleged public endorsement of Lawan by his colleagues.
He said that senators would vote according to their conscience on Tuesday. According to him, there’s a big difference between endorsement and voting, adding that even Lawan was endorsed in 2015, but Senate President Bukola Saraki however emerged.
Here’s Ndume’s statement to journalists;
“Well, I have said before that I am not looking for endorsement but looking for votes on election day.
“You know clearly that there is a difference between endorsement and election.
“Recall too that in 2015 that the story of endorsement was canvassed.
“He had the endorsement but what happened on the floor of the Senate was different.
“I believe that my colleagues shall vote according to their conscience and they shall vote for a candidate that is more suitable for the position of the Senate President.
“I am not bothered about endorsement; rather am more worried about the election.”
Ndume had few days ago following the endorsement of Lawan by Senator Danjuma Goje said that Goje’s withdrawal has created ground for the two top contenders to contest the position.
Surprisingly, barely 24hours after Goje’s withdrawal, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) withdrew its N5billion naira case against him. It appears he had gotten immunity from prosecution after apparently agreeing to Buhari’s deal.
Lawan despite his public endorsements however does not enjoy the convincing support of majority of his colleagues. It appears most APC senators-elect only wants to obey their party out of fear. That appears not to be the same case with Femi Gbajabiamila, the ruling party’s anointed candidate for Speakership position.
Mr. Gbajabiamila has since his declaration enjoyed endorsements even from opposition PDP members.
He recently promised to offer 60 PDP members positions of chairmen and deputy chairmen of committee if he emerges as speaker on Tuesday.
His plan to carry the opposition lawmakers along is however against the instruction of his party leadership.
APC Chairman Oshiomhole had warned that no party lawmaker should work with the PDP which he described as evil. He noted that only APC members would occupy all committee chairmanship positions. A decision the Deputy National Chairman of the ruling party, Senator Lawal Shuaibu, berated Oshiomhole for.
Shuaibu had noted that no APC senator can emerge senate president as claimed by Oshiomhole without the support of PDP senators. He further stated that Oshiomholes position regarding the forthcoming election in the NASS is a clear indication that he does not have the required capability and experience to run a political party.
The strongest opposition PDP is apparently still doing its underground works to determine who it would declare its support for.
The PDP had met last week to discuss and decide on whom to support ahead of the Tuesday election for the presiding positions of the 9th National Assembly.
The former ruling party is well experienced in politics and might just shock the world on Tuesday.