Home Inside Africa Nigeria Legal and constitutional questions hover around NASS Leadership

Legal and constitutional questions hover around NASS Leadership



The controversial emergence on Tuesday, of Senator Bukola Saraki as Senate President for the 8th National Assembly poses a number of puzzles with the possibility of an imminent constitutional crisis in the polity.For the first time in the history of the National Assembly, the Senate was inaugurated with the absence of almost 50 percent of the members who incidentally are members of the majority party in the Upper Chamber- the All Progressives Congress (APC).

This raises the legal and constitutional questions of who gave the order to the clerk of the National Assembly to inaugurate the session since there was no subsisting Senate President at that point in time.President Muhammadu Buhari who was said to have given the proclamation for the inauguration was also said to have called a meeting of APC Senators-elect earlier the same day to resolve the impasse over who heads the National Assembly.Curiously, earlier the same day, the gates of the National Assembly had been locked with staff and journalists prevented from gaining access, giving an indication that the inauguration might have been put on hold while the meeting with the president lasted.

But while the APC leaders and its Senators-elect were still awaiting the president at the International Conference Centre venue of the meeting, they were shocked to watch on national television, the live broadcast of the inauguration in their absence.Expectedly, the APC is shouting foul and has rejected the outcome that threw up Saraki and ensured the emergence of a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senator, Ike Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President.It even went further that it would challenge the process through all legal and constitutional means while also vowing to punish Saraki and Yakubu Dogara who emerged Speaker of the House of Representatives in the same controversial manner for defying the party for what it described as disloyalty.

Surprisingly, in what may amount to going against the party?s view, President Buhari has accepted the outcome of the National Assembly elections, saying though he would have preferred the position of the party to be maintained, a constitutional process has occurred.In the process, for the first time, an opposition party has managed to ensure the emergence of one of its own as the Deputy Senate President.And for the first time too, the North is holding on to three most powerful positions in the country.

The North West has the Presidency in Buhari, the North Central the Senate President in Saraki and the North East the Speaker of the House of Representatives in Dogara from Bauchi State.Thus, for the first time, the North controls both the executive and the two legislative arms of government with the other zones at their mercy.Viewed along the line that the north also controls the Judiciary in Justice Mamoud Mohammed, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, perhaps, it is pertinent to ask: What manner of change are we having at the moment? Is this the meaning of the change mantra, the Sai Buhari slogan?

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