The leader of the House of Representatives and chairman of the APC Caucus, Femi Gbajabiamila, has explained why Bukola Saraki must step down as the Senate President.
In an interview with Premium Times, Gbajabiamila said that though he was family friend with Saraki, this was based on the “letter of the law”.
According to the lawmaker who cited the US Congress as example, it was not about impeachment, but Saraki’s eligibility for the office he occupies.
“The Senate President is a family friend I grew up with and did not know or meet in politics. That’s why this has been particularly difficult for me and I wish the situation was not what it is now. I believe beyond the 2/3rds debate, a constitution or law is interpreted based on the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. If a provision is ambiguous as it apparently is now you look at the intention of the drafters and framers if the constitution.
“So question is – could it have been the intention of the framers that a minority or opposition member would be a senate president? The answer is clearly no. Any other interpretation will lead to absurdity. If we say yes the law did not mind a situation where such would happen then it means an opposition senate president can use his position to make sure the ruling party/government fails. It would be in his interest to do so, so as to give his opposition party the opportunity to take over government. This could never have been the intention.
“If I were the senate president and I belonged to the opposition I would make sure the House did not reconvene so the money needed to finance the budget would not be approved by the National Assembly. Or what stops an opposition senate president from appointing all opposition members as committee chairmen including committees needed to make the government function?
“The midterm elections are coming up in the US in November. If the democrats should regain control of the Congress as speculated Speaker Ryan automatically steps down.
“Nowhere in the world that I know where constitutional democracy is practiced does the minority party occupy headship of the legislature. Now the provision commonly referred to that the whole House shall elect to mean the whole House shall elect from among the candidates produced by the majority party.
“This is why I said then that the House elected Tambuwal and not PDP. Even the PDP knows this and that is why even though here was ample opportunity to elect a PDP member as senate president because they were in the majority on the day of election they did not present a candidate.
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“So it really isn’t about impeachment or 2/3rds. It’s about office eligibility. This is my take. Like I said I have a relationship with the senate president that goes beyond politics and wish it hadn’t come to this but it is what it is,” Gbajabiamila said.
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