The speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has advised the executive and the leadership of Nigerian political parties to always allow the lawmakers to choose their leaders both in the Senate and House of Representatives.
He said that members of the National Assembly have always resisted the imposition of leaders on them by the executive arm of government and their political parties.
Dogara stated this yesterday in Abuja at the ongoing orientation programme for members of the 9th National Assembly, which he chaired.
In an interaction with journalists, Dogara said: “I will advise members to actually look out for those who have thrown themselves into the race to see who will aggregate their aspirations better and then will be able to surpass the record of this Assembly,”
To the political parties, he said: “Well, I am not here to dictate to them, the parties have their manifestoes, the way to do their businesses but one thing I have said and if you followed the business during this induction, it is always better to allow the leadership to emerge from the people.
“Where leadership has been forced upon the people, the history in the National Assembly, and in fact, in Nigeria’s history, it has never endured. The least we could afford in the National Assembly is a crisis on account of the leadership selection process.
“So, whoever a party is sponsoring and supporting, they should make sure they have the backing of the legislature so that they (legislators) accept it because they own the process and the leadership.
“That way, it will be good but in a situation it is forced, literally driven down the throat, in most cases, it doesn’t augur well. Even in the Senate, it doesn’t augur well. In the House of Representatives too, it doesn’t augur well.”
During the session, Dogara said that the Nigerian president is the most powerful in the world because the legislature and judiciary are not up and doing.
He regretted that Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) makes it impossible for the parliament to impeach the president or the vice president.
According to him, “efforts to amend the section some time ago, to make the procedure for the impeachment of the president and the vice president less stringent, failed.
“The point was made long ago, even before 2015 when the current president was elected. It has always been said that Nigeria’s president is most powerful in the world. It is because of the fact that we as parliamentarians and even the judiciary have been unable to stand up to our responsibilities.
“When they are talking about a powerful president, they are talking about a weak legislature and a weak judiciary. Section 143 was very controversial. The ruling government (then) believed we were targeting the president. And those who were coming believed that we want to relax the law so that anybody they elect can easily be impeached.
“But the point is that we are trying to strengthen democracy to ensure the checks on account of removing the president or vice president for violation of the constitution is made more probable.
“As it is, Section 143 can never be successfully activated by any parliament; it will never work by the design of that provision. So, when people talk about impeachment I just laugh. You cannot successfully activate Section 143 (of the constitution). But in the United States (US) it is very real. A president can be removed,” Dogara said.