A former Minister of Information and President Muhammadu Buhari’s close ally, Prince Tony Momoh, has said the All Progressives Congress (APC) will fail in its plans to impose its candidates on the National Assembly to occupy leadership positions.
According to him, attempts to do so by previous ruling party since 1999 failed because the lawmakers have always been resisting, preferring to choose their own leaders.
The National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole had recently reiterated that members of the main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), will not be among principal officers in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, in the ninth National Assembly.
Oshiomhole who said he had no apologies to stand against forces of retrogression (the PDP), saying that though both President Buhari and the leadership of the ruling party are not saying the National Assembly should be rubber stamps, members of the party have been asked to ensure what belongs to the party is not shared with the opposition. Momoh, who spoke to journalists on Friday in Abuja as part of activities to mark his 80th birthday, said imposition was foreign to the presidential system of government, which is being practiced in Nigeria. The chieftain of the ruling party stressed that party supremacy could only be effective in a parliamentary system of government because the political party with the majority would always form the government.
According to him “The National Assembly has its own personality that it protects in spite of political party differences. It has always been so since 1999. There has been no effective party supremacy. Party supremacy cannot be effective in the presidential system because it stands alone. It can only succeed if there is cooperation not by imposition.
“In 1999, Evans Enwerem was not the choice of the Senators. They wanted Chuba Okadigbo. So, Enwerem did not last when he emerged. Also in 2015, the party wanted Femi Gbajabiamila but Yakubu Dogara got it. Since 1999, there have always been problems between the legislators and the party candidates. The legislators come together to pursue common interests and party supremacy is obviously not one of them.
“In the parliamentary system, the party with the majority will dominate leadership positions in the legislators. The prime minister is also a member of the parliament.” The veteran journalist, who said he had been an advocate of restructuring as a way of ensuring good governance in the country argued that, “Nigeria is too top heavy in administering governance and we need to decongest the political space. National Assembly makes law in 93 areas comprising the exclusive and concurrence lists.
“In federations worldwide, we don’t need more than 18. The rest should go to regions, they know what to do with it. The senate will become the only law making arm of the federation while the House of Representatives should go to the regions and be making laws for their people. When this happens, economic deregulation is automatic because everybody will contribute to run the centre.
“We have experienced the parliamentary system and we are presently experiencing a presidential system of government. Presidential government shares the powers of the people among the legislature, judiciary and the executive. With these powers, they attract other areas to themselves.”
Momoh while commending President Buhari for signing the new minimum wage of N30, 000 into law expressed fears that it might lead to chaos. According to him, “My prediction is that the N30, 000 minimum wage will cause chaos because many state governments that were paying N7, 500 before N18, 000 was introduced could not pay then.
“A lot of them are currently finding it difficult to pay N18, 000 now. They are already saying they can’t pay and this would lead to strikes. When that happens, the nation is in trouble. The N30, 000 minimum wage is not a living wage. What is the percentage of the workers in Nigeria that are entitled to the N30, 000 minimum wage? What is the percentage of the public servants compared to the percentage of the entire working population in Nigeria?” The elder statesman, said the CCT pronouncement on former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen was in order. He said, “The CCT has powers to deal with sitting presidents and governors because Part one of the fifth schedule creates the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
“Part two deals with those who are subjected to its jurisdiction, which is President, Vice President, CJN, down to councilors. The CCT is a disciplinary body. Walter Onnoghen is a public servant before he became the CJN. His case was directed to the Code of Conduct Bureau, which transferred it to CCT. The argument of some lawyers that he shouldn’t have been taken there is not tenable.
“They don’t know what they are talking about. I don’t believe that it is a case of witch-hunt. I advised him (Onnoghen) to resign when the case started. That would have saved him from the embarrassment.”