Barely 48 hours to the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly, the opposition political parties under the aegis of the Coalition of United Political Parties, (CUPP), on Sunday demanded that the elections of its leadership in the two chambers must reflect religious balance in line with the constitution of the land as obtained in the 8th NASS
Addressing newsmen yesterday in Abuja, the co-spokesperson of the coalition, Mr. Mark Adebayo declared that this became necessary in order to ensure religious harmony in the country.
According to him, “while the CUPP, the umbrella group comprising the opposition parties in the country, is not against the decision of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) to zone the leadership of the parliament, we consider it paramount for us to lend our voice to guide the lawmakers so that mistakes capable of throwing the country into avoidable crises are not made.
“It is public knowledge that the ruling All Progressives Congress has zoned the position of the Senate President to the North-east and that of the House of Representatives to the South-west. This, to us, is acceptable as it is still in synchronisation with the principle of rotation and balance being promoted in the nation’s political milieu.
“But what has called for concerns has been the decision of the ruling party to micro-zone the positions to certain individuals. The essence of democracy as practised the world over is the right of every individual to have the right to vote and be voted for. Therefore, micro-zoning to individuals is undemocratic and condemnable.
“Looking at the multi-ethnic and multi-religious nature of our country, efforts must be made to ensure balance in political offices. President Muhammadu Buhari is a Muslim; his Vice, Yemi Osinbajo is a Christian. It is also clear that the position of the Senate President will be occupied by a Muslim Senator from the North-east.
“Therefore, in line with the APC zoning arrangement, the Speaker of the House of Representatives from the South-west must be a Christian. The delicate religious inclinations in the country must be balanced so as to allay the fears of the alleged plot of the ruling party to Islamise Nigeria.
“The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the umbrella Christian body had already raised the red flag on this and it is important for members-elect to take cognizance of the fact.
“While the President and the leadership of the party reserve the right to take a position that they deemed fit for their “Next Level”, it would not be out of place to quickly remind the authorities that competence, capacity and character cannot be ruled out in the Speakership race and that doing everything against voice of reasons and all evidences to the contrary will not portray Nigeria well.”
The coalition also cautioned members against the character to be elected as the Speaker of the 9th Assembly saying, “electing an internationally tainted personality to the position of Speaker will make a mockery of our nation and rubbish both virtues and values which the ruling party have long been arrogating to itself.”
According to CUPP, “in truth, the composition of the house and its leadership is our national identity and the face of the nation. The consequences of a wrong selection at this critical moment when our nation is now the headquarters of poverty and other inhumane vices will rob off negatively not only on the lawmakers but Nigeria, and Nigerians generally irrespective of their political affiliations.
“The top echelon of the ruling party and spirited Nigerians must not look the other way. If the ruling party mean well for Nigerians and it is sincere about its public image of fighting corruption and integrity personification, there would not be any need to tell the authorities not to put the interest of anybody above the national interest and identity before the party will toe the path of honour and allow reason to prevail.”