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‘I’m competent to be Senate President’

Ahmed Lawan

Buhari’s due process stance favours Yobe senator
Chairman of Senate Public Account Committee Senator Ahmad Lawan is favoured going by the declaration of President-elect Muhammadu Buhari that “due process” will be followed in the election of the principal officers of the National Assembly, some ranking senators said yesterday.

According to the senators, who had a brainstorming session yesterday, if due process is followed in the elections, “Senator Lawan is the aspirant to beat.”
Order 3 rule 2 of the Senate Standing Order states:

”Nomination of senators to serve as presiding officers of the Senate or on any Parliamentary delegations shall be in accordance with the ranking of senators. In determining ranking, the following order shall apply;(i)Senators returning based on numbers of time re-elected; (ii)Senators who had been members of the House of Representatives and (iii)Senators elected as senators for the first time.”

The senators added that going by the Order, Senator Lawan is the most qualified among the aspirants for senate president having spent 16 years as a federal lawmaker – split eight years each between the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Other aspirants like Senators Bukola Saraki and George Akume, would have spent a period of eight years each as federal lawmakers at the end of the soon to take off eighth Assembly.

“In fact, Senator Lawan is the highest ranking APC senator in the eighth Assembly and we have no doubt that both President-elect Muhammadu Buhari and our party will be guided accordingly,” a member of the group said last night.

The ranking senators-elect advised the in-coming administration to abide by its change mantra, which means that it would be no business as usual.

The added that even under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) controlled Seventh Senate session, extant rules of the upper chamber were not compromised.

“It should dawn on the party that there is the urgent need to adhere to parliamentary culture already in place in the conduct of the primaries and elections into National Assembly positions,” the ranking senators-elect said.

•Lawan explains why Northeast should produce
number three citizen

ALL Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain Senator Ahmad Lawan yesterday reflected on the battle for the Senate President, saying that he is fit to succeed out-going Senate President David Mark next month.

The senator from Yobe North also explained why the Northeast should fill the slot in the next dispensation, stressing that it will give the zone a sense of belonging.
Lawan, who noted that public expectation about the incoming administration of Muhammadu Buhari is high, said the country deserved a Senate President, who can assist the next president to accomplish his anti-corruption drive, push for economic revival and security.

Describing himself as a cosmopolitan legislator, he said he has acquired experience in the National Assembly in the last 16 years as a member of the House of Representatives for eight years and senator for another eight years before his recent re-election into the Upper Chamber.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts ruled out the possibility of emerging as a rubber-stamp Senate President, clarifying that he would only be a partner in progress with the executive in an atmosphere of cooperative governance.

Unfolding his vision for the Senate, Lawan, who holds a doctorate degree in Geographical Information Science, said: “I want to provide a 21st century Senate Presidency; a leadership that will ensure that we have a bi-partisan approach to legislative business. I will bring incorruptibility and credibility to the administration.

Buhari was elected based on three issues – anti-corruption, fight against insurgency and economic revival. I can complement the anti-corruption stance of the President.

“Nigeria needs a serious anti-corruption fight. If we don’t fight corruption, the resources will go into private pockets. We need to block leakages. My public accounts background will be of help. The judicious financial management of our resources is a priority. We are coming to power at a time of dwindling resources.

Those who pillage the treasury will have to be brought to book.”

Lawan maintained that he is qualified to serve as the Senate President because he has the pedigree, competence and experience.

He said: “I have worked in the two chambers. I know the sentiments, tendencies, and sensibilities of the two Houses. The 16 years of experience have enabled me to work with three Speakers – Buhari Salisu, Ghali Na’aba and Bello Masari.

“I have learned to be a team player. I like to work on the basis of consensus. This is required to build a bridge of understanding among political parties in the National Assembly. Good governance must be supported by the National Assembly. There must be service delivery.

“The 20 per cent capital expenditure/70 per cent recurrent expenditure ratio is not acceptable to Nigerians. We must balance the budget and reduce recurrent expenditure to have a pro-people budget.

“We need to enforce our oversight functions. We should have statutory or mandatory period for oversight for every committee to go and monitor the usage of funds allocated to all sectors. This will curb embezzlement. We need a Senate that is focused. We need a pro-poor Senate leadership.”

Lawan said the slot should be zoned to the Northeast as a reward for its massive votes for the APC in the recent election and compensation for the disruption of its socio-economic life by the dreadful Boko Haram sect in the last three years.

He added: “I have what it takes to be the President of Senate. Coming from the Northeast is also an advantage. The Northeast has gone through severe troubles; it has been ravaged and marginalised. The Senate Presidency will bring back the Northeast to Nigeria. At a time, we were taken out of Nigeria by Boko Haram, which declared a Sultanate.”

On zoning, the senator said it is up to the APC leadership to decide, adding that the Northeast will also try to convince the party to zone the slot to the region.

He explained that, since the insurgency started, no capital project has been executed in the Northeast because the zone has not been safe.

He added that he has a bright chance because he has been endorsed by the Northwest and Southwest APC Senate caucus, adding that he also has a good rapport with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members from other zones.

The senator rejected the notion that he was being sponsored by President-elect Muhammadu Buhari and the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

Noting that the two eminent Nigerians wield influence, he said they have not anointed any candidate. Lawan however, said their “backing is crucial because they are respected leaders of the party”.

He added: “I am seeking the support of our leaders. They deserve respect.”

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Posted By BOBRICKY On 07:30 Tue, 19 May 2015

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