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Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Why Saraki Must Step Down As Senate President - Reps Leader, Gbajabiamila

Why Saraki Must Step Down As Senate President - Reps Leader, Gbajabiamila

Femi Gbajabiamila

The leader of the House of Representatives and chairman of the APC Caucus, Femi Gbajabiamila, has explained why Bukola Saraki must step down as the Senate President.

 While speaking in an exclusive interview with PREMIUM Times, the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, must resign his position since his current party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was in the minority in the Senate and the House.

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Gbajabiamila said: ‘’I said at the time, the whole House voted for Tambuwal and not just ACN. I stand by that. Whether the whole House voted for someone is not the same thing as whether Tambuwal’s movement to a minority party at the time he should have remained the speaker.

“I never addressed that particular issue. Now assuming I did, perhaps that was what I thought, there is nothing wrong in changing one’s mind in the face of further and better evidence of the law.

“Indeed, what would be wrong will be for one to be an ostrich and remain inflexible just because you don’t want to change your position even in the face of new and more detailed research.

‘’That ability to change in the face of a more compelling argument makes you a better person. After all, even the Supreme Court has had occasion to reverse itself in the past when they realised they were wrong.

‘’The Senate President is a family friend I grew up with. That’s why this has been particularly difficult for me and I wish the situation was not what it is now. I believe beyond the two-thirds debate, a constitution or law is interpreted based on the letter of the law and the spirit of the law.

“If a provision is ambiguous as it apparently is now, you look at the intention of the drafters and framers of the constitution. So, question is: could it have been the intention of the framers that a minority or opposition member would be a Senate president?

‘’The answer is clearly no. Any other interpretation will lead to absurdity. If we say yes, the law did not mind a situation where such would happen, then it means an opposition Senate president can use his position to make sure the ruling party/government fails.

‘’It would be in his interest to do so, so as to give his opposition party the opportunity to take over government. This could never have been the intention.

‘’If I were the senate president and I belonged to the opposition I would make sure the House did not reconvene so the money needed to finance the budget would not be approved by the National Assembly. Or what stops an opposition senate president from appointing all opposition members as committee chairmen including committees needed to make the government function?

‘’The midterm elections are coming up in the US in November. If the democrats should regain control of the Congress as speculated Speaker Ryan automatically steps down. Nowhere in the world that I know where constitutional democracy is practiced does the minority party occupy headship of the legislature.

‘’Now the provision commonly referred to that the whole House shall elect to mean the whole House shall elect from among the candidates produced by the majority party. This is why I said then that the House elected Tambuwal and not PDP.

‘’Even the PDP knows this and that is why even though here was ample opportunity to elect a PDP member as senate president because they were in the majority on the day of election they did not present a candidate.

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‘’So it really isn’t about impeachment or 2/3rds. It’s about office eligibility. This is my take. Like I said I have a relationship with the senate president that goes beyond politics and wish it hadn’t come to this but it is what it is.’’

Gbajabiamila noted that APC had a clear and overwhelming majority in the House with about 196 members to PDP’s 150.

‘’That’s a big deficit for the PDP. Don’t forget that all of the members that defected to ADC have progressive inclinations and we expect them to work with the APC in the House.

‘’That there are many members still expected to leave the APC is nothing but wishful thinking. In fact, it’s the other way round. As you know, two members so far have joined APC from Akwa Ibom since the so called gale,’’ he said.

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