From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja

Civil Society Network for Good Governance (CSNGG),  an umbrella body of civil society organisations in the country, has kicked against moves by leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to impose presiding officers on the National Assembly.

The group, in a statement by its National President,  Adefila Kamal, said imposition of leadership on the two chambers would erode the confidence of Nigerians and the international community in the administration of President Bola Tinubu.

The APC has endorsed Senators Godswill Akpabio and Barau Jibrin, as its preferred candidates for the position of Senate President and Deputy respectively.

In the House of Representatives, the party named Tajudeen Abbas and Benjamin Kalu, as its choice for the position of speaker and deputy speaker respectively.

However, the endorsements have been generating controversy in the polity, with stakeholders kicking against it. While senators-elect are rallying round former Abia governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, aggrieved speakership aspirants on the aegis of G-7 have vowed to scuttle APC arrangement in the Green chamber.

The CSOs, while calling on President Tinubu to distance himself from the move to foist a leadership on the legislature, recalled that the president had himself contested the APC presidential primary and won despite the endorsement of Senate President, Ahmad Lawan by the party leadership.

It said: “The evil of candidate imposition abounds and often undeniable. Foisting of individuals on the  legislative arm of government  by the Executive arm of government represents an incurable aberration capable of obstructing the smooth running of democratic governance with a view to eventually subdue and subject the influence of the parliament to whims and caprices of the executive, the same institution that the parliament is designed to checkmate.

“On this note, the CSNGG rebuffed in it’s entirety the attempt by a few individuals, using the apparatus of the party to arm-twist the President Tinubu to endorse the imposition of anointed candidates as president of the 10th Senate and speaker of the 10th House of Representatives upon its inauguration come 13th June.

“We unequivocally condemn the move, as we advise President Tinubu to distance himself from this scheming to avoid being a ready tool in the hands of a few persons who pretend to be serving his interest as against the overall interest of Nigeria and her nascent democracy.

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“It is pertinent to note that this impending imposition is not meant to serve the common good of Nigeria and it’s developing democracy, rather it is an a tacit move to reduce confidence of Nigerians and the international community in the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

“The legislature is the most important institution essential to the functioning of representative democracy. The basic objective of the legislature is to hold the government accountable by protecting the interest of the citizenry.

“For a country to be qualified as a democratic nation, it must have a system that operates on a tripod: the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. Interestingly, what makes a democratic system tick and confirms its legitimacy is the existence of an independent legislature,  i.e  the National Assembly, comprising the Senate and the House of Representatives, in the case of Nigeria.

“As Nigeria progresses in leading other developing democracies of Africa, particularly in the west African sub-region on the path of democratic culture, it is key for political elites to ensure that the country makes a good example by upholding the tenets and principles of democratic governance.”

“This example has been set by the new president and other democratic forces who stood firm in the face of an undemocratic imposition of presidential candidates on the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the build-up to the National  Convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2022.

While President Tinubu polled 1, 271 votes to defeat 13 other presidential hopefuls in the election, the “anointed consensus candidate” Senate President Ahmad Lawan polled 152 votes. Save for President Tinubu’s resolve, the wish of the minority would have been forced on the will of the majority.

‘This bold step among others was responsible for the victory APC recorded at the 2023 general election and it further deepened the culture of democracy in Nigeria’s party politics.

“CSNGG make bold to note that if the imposition had been allowed to stand, the APC might not have produced a generally acceptable presidential candidate in Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and in turns, the decision of a few persons opportune to walk in the corridors of power would have subdued the wish and aspirations of  the over 200 million Nigerians including overwhelming supporters of the Tinubu-Shettima ticket.

“Also, the APC would have been denied the opportunity to continue leading the country on its partway to greater development as contained in the party’s manifesto and campaign promises.”