By Esther Agada, Nkechi Anadu, Folashade Ogunremi and Zainab Shuaib
We are the Mothers of the Nation; we gave birth to the incoming senators and members of the House of Representatives in the 10th National Assembly (NASS). We are women who vote. We are the women who voted for the President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Vice President-Elect, Sen. Kashim Shettima. We are the women who voted for members of the incoming 10th National Assembly. We are the Women For Distinguished Senator Abdulaziz Yari. Here, we lend our individual and collective voices to the matter of electing the leadership of the 10th NASS.
It is common knowledge that the primary duty of NASS is to make qualitative laws for a greater Nigeria – devoid of ethnic, tribal, religious and related sentiments. Hence, each constituency and senatorial district strives to elect the best hands to represent them at NASS, which in turn does it utmost to elect the very best from members as NASS leaders.
A huge uproar greeted – deservedly so – the recent decision of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) decision not only to zone the uppermost positions of the 10th NASS to some regions but to hand-pick or micro-zone these top jobs to specific individuals. Nigerians were told that the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC and the President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu took the zoning decisions ostensibly after consulting the power blocs and relevant stakeholders both within the party and the body-politic, thus heating up the polity, instead of healing and soothing the nation following the just concluded 2023 General Elections, and setting lofty, progressive agenda for the10th NASS
The natural question to ask is: If indeed the widest consultation possible was carried before the APC NWC announced the zoning formula with specified names for the positions so far allotted, why did all hell broke out after the announcement?
The reasonable inference we could draw from the current, deep and wide disaffection over the issue is that the President-Elect and the APC NWC did not consult as widely as required under the situation at hand, and allow superior logic to carry the day. Perhaps that list released by the APC National Publicity Secretary, Barr. Felix Morka, is a first shot indicating the zygotic fusion or formation of a Tinubu cabal which aspires to run ring around the President-Elect and indeed all Nigerians in the Tinubu Presidency for the next four years. We sincerely pray and hope that last sentence falls wide off the mark, though. Time will tell…
Now, we are women and we are democrats. We understand the inner and outer workings of the party system and the democratic processes. Indeed as progressive party women we deign to party supremacy as a veritable principle of any political party worthy of the appellation.
However, we humbly beg to differ, respectfully, on the way the APC NWC and the President-Elect have sprang that bothersome 10th NASS leadership list on us and indeed all Nigerians as stakeholders in the Tinubu Presidency and the Nigerian Project.
To be sure, if indeed the APC NWC and the President-Elect consulted widely and secured a party, national consensus on the list in question, the instant hoopla which trailed its release would not have occurred.
That most marginalised candidates for the leadership position of the 10th NASS have snubbed the list and recalibrated their campaigns indicate that they were not consulted before the zoning was done, let alone their consents on it obtained by the APC NWC and the President-Elect as the whole country was told. This singular act has generated the sense that the incoming Tinubu Administration has been hijacked by certain vested interests.
Who is trying to pull a wool over the nation’s eyes in this matter, a Tinubu Cabal at its embryonic stage? Does this emergent cabal consider itself above the constitutional strength of 109 democratically elected distinguished senators and 360 honourable members of the 10t Assembly of the Again, time will tell..!
Anyway, it is pertinent to point out that executive interference in the parliament is an anathema in true democracies. If a fit and proper democracy is what the President-Elect stands for – and indeed we want to believe that a true democrat in the person of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu believes in true democracy, the rule of law and separation of powers as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution as amended – he would admit that with that zoning list a false start has occurred towards imposing leaders on the 10th NASS, and he will quickly move to correct it. That, we strongly believe, he will still do.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu should not start his presidency on a crisis note via such an important organ of democratic governance – the Legislature Doubling down on that discredited zoning list may seemeth right unto a man but the end thereof is destruction – a holy book cautions.
Permit us to point out to the APC NWC and the President-Elect that Nigerians are excited by the healthy contest which has ensued among candidates seeking to lead the 10th NASS. All citizens of goodwill are looking forward to Proclamation Day and a rancor-free election of the National Assembly leadership on that auspicious, national event.
Our fellow Nigerians have faith in these senators and members-elect as democrats to elect their parliamentary leaders in the best spirit of comradeship possible. This is because all candidates in the contest have repeatedly exhibited maturity in their campaigns and assured at every turn that they would respect the outcome of the leadership tussle in the spirit of sportsmanship since it is within themselves as lawmakers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and therefore expected to be democratically free and fair, especially if the Executive and other non-parliamentary forces do not insert themselves into such a simple, straightforward process of electing NASS leaders.
It is important to note that what most candidates running to lead the 10th NASS, including Distinguished Senator Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar – the majority of the incoming legislators, across party lines and indeed Nigerians nationwide – are asking for is a level-playing field in the contest. No more, no less! And that is not exactly a difficult demand by our lawmakers in their own parliament, is it? The future of our children and Nigerians at large is at stake here.
Perhaps the two decades and three years of civil rule has lulled those behind the ongoing attempt to undermine the independence of the National Assembly into a deep slumber, hence they can no longer glance at the rearview mirror of our democratic journey since 1999 to see where we are coming from.
Do these aspirants-cabalist need their individual and collective memories juggled to startle them to remember the dark age of Military Rule in this country and the terrible experience Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and other pro-democracy icons – individuals and groups – went through to return Nigeria to civil rule?
Do these wannabes-fixer of parliamentary leaders for the 10th NASS realise that the fundamental institution which distinguishes democratic governance from Military Rule and autocratic dictatorship is the National Assembly? Where is the democracy if the 10th NASS cannot freely choose its own leaders?
We want to believe that the President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, can clearly recall where the rain started beating us as a nation, where we collectively began to dry ourselves on this democratic journey and to what extent we have succeeded to slice off slivers of undemocratic tendencies from the body-politic.
The President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, needs to put his democratic credentials before the Nigerian People, once again, by distancing himself from the ongoing attempts to foist leaders on the incoming 10th NASS – because Asiwaju belongs to the People.
To institute the leadership structure of the 10th NASS, the Women For Yari Movement is for an open, transparent contest in which only members of the parliaments are involved and without any third-party meddling. Only a National Assembly leadership chosen in this legal, constitutional way can ensure a Nigeria that works for all, with no hijack of it from any quarters.
Distinguished Senator Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar subscribes to such a free and fair process. It is an existential principle he was trained to learn, accept, deploy and inculcate in his pupils as a lowly, humble Grade II school teacher with the Local Government Education Authority (LGEA) in Talata Mafara, Zamfara State (1985-1993).
Distinguished Senator Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar did not depart from that path of openness and fairness as ANPP state party secretary (1999-2003), state party chairman (2003-2007), party National Financial Secretary (2007), Member Representing Anka/Talata Mafara Federal Constituency (2007-2011), two-term Executive Governor of Zamfara State (2011-2015; 2015-2019) and as Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (2015-2019).
Distinguished Senator Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar will NOT take to learning a new ‘dance’ in imposition, micro-zoning and allied undemocratic practices at this stage of his career as an elected public official.
As a democrat, Distinguished Senator Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar values the rule of law and has therefore publicly pledged to respect the outcome of a free, fair 10th NASS leadership election.
In any case, Distinguished Senator Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar is the best man for the job. As President of the Senate in the 10th NASS, Distinguished Senator Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar will render yeoman’s service to the Senate, the National Assembly, the Peoples of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and our dear nation herself, thus putting Nigeria first.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu would have in Distinguished Senator Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar as Senate President a nationalist and patriot who will rally his fellow senators and the lower chamber of the National Assembly to actualise the “Renewed Hope” vision of the incoming President.
Distinguished Senator Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar is a highly experienced and dependable hand in the nation-building project. As Senate President, all patriotic elements, men and women of goodwill can count on him steer the ship of state aright for the common good.
As Senate President, Yari is for you, Yari is for me, Yari is for all!
We are patriots! We are the Women For Yari Movement!
Long live Distinguished Senator Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar!
Long Live the National Assembly!
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
•Esther Agada, Nkechi Anadu, Folashade Ogunremi and Zainab Shuaib are members of Women For Yari Movement