A group of concerned Nigerians under the aegis of Citizens Advocacy Group on Monday cautioned the ruling APC against imposition of leadership on the about-to-be- inaugurated 10th National Assembly.
The group, which is calling for democratic contest among aspirants for principal offices in the 10th National Assembly, rejected what it called imposition of candidate for the position of the Senate President.
The decision by the National Working Committee (NWC) of APC to impose certain candidates as Senate President and Deputy as well as Speaker and Deputy Speaker for the House of Representatives has been generating uproar in polity.
A document issued recently after the APC NWC meeting in Abuja showed that the party has zone the Senate President to South South Region and settled for Senator-Elect, Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom).
The party zone the Deputy Senate President to North -West and settled for Sen. Barau Jubrin (Kano) while Rep. Abass Tajudeen (Kaduna, North West ) and Rep. Ben Kalu (Abia, South East) were chosen as Speaker and Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives for the 10th Assembly.
In a statement issued by its Convener, Mr Chris George and Secretary, Mr Haruna Kabir, in Lagos on Monday, the concerned Nigerians described such imposition as undemocratic.
The statement said that the decision by the leadership of the APC to choose the Senate President for the 109-member Senate was an affront on the principle of separation of power.
“This decision has been generating controversy and this is not unexpected and we feel we must add our voice to what we see as an anti-democratic posture which bodes no good for our nascent democracy.
“What the party has done is an autocratic imposition which has no place in a democracy as it poses serious danger to independent legislature and an attack on the principle of separation of power.
“We in the Citizens Advocacy Group believe the concerned Senators-Elect should be allowed to make their choice based on the experience, competence and the qualification of each aspirant,” it said.
The statement said that there was no problem in zoning principal offices to give each region a sense of belonging, but it would be undemocratic to settle for any legislator as Senate President when other candidates from the same zone had expressed interest in the position.
“The position of the Senate President was zoned to the South-South geopolitical zone, are we saying there are no other candidates from that zone who are qualified and competent enough to become the Senate President?
“The zone alone has six states including Akwa Ibom where the APC’s anointed candidate hails from; Rivers, Cross River, Bayelsa, Delta and Edo States.
“Why should we exclude five other states despite also having qualified Senators-Elect, both new and returning who have the experience to lead the Senate?
“Politics of exclusion in a democratic setting like Nigeria would only breed enmity, ill-feeling and rancour which the incoming administration cannot afford in a country already deeply divided,” it added.
According to it, at this point in time when Nigeria is faced with multitude of challenges, the country cannot afford to inaugurate a new government and the National Assembly on a shaky and controversial note.
“We can avoid this by not giving room for imposition as the APC leadership has done.
“We believe the race should be thrown open for all the candidates who have expressed interest from the zone to test their strength and popularity in a free and fair contest and anything short of that would not augur well for the smooth take-off of the 10th Assembly.
“We reiterate that the decision of the party is not democratic. It is not well thought-out. It is highly offensive and a decision that must not be allowed to stand for the sake of equity and fair play,” it said.