As the race for the 10th National Assembly leadership hots up, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, on Friday said opposition political parties would not determine the leadership of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
He however said his party, the All Progressives Congress, must work with the opposition parties.
Speaking with State House correspondents after joining residents of the Federal Capital Territory for a Sallah homage to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, he stated that the President was finishing strong and that he would leave the country more secure than he met it in 2015.
He added, “There is no way an opposition will decide who should be the senate president or who should be the speaker; it is our party and other leaders that will decide,
When asked about growing concerns that the opposition may bank on the reported division in the party and seize the process, he said, “I don’t think opposition parties are planning to usurp because it is presumptuous that the APC will not be a united party.
“APC is a united party and the opposition party will simply work with the APC majority for us to have stability because there is no way an opposition will decide who should be the senate president or who should be the speaker; it is our party and other leaders that will determine what zone or whoever, and the rest of us in the party will key in, and of course the opposition will have no option but to give support.
“I don’t see anything wrong in the opposition talking to us or we talking to the opposition to ensure that we are on the same page, because we need the opposition to ensure that we get most of our constitutional amendments passed, when the time is right, because we don’t have the 73 in the Senate. So, you need 73 senators at least for you to have any constitutional amendment. So, you would need the opposition.”
He said a National Assembly that works with the executive would produce greater results than those who are antagonistic. He added, “Don’t ever think the opposition should be pushed away. I don’t believe in that. I only believe in a bipartisan chamber because it is more productive, stable, calm and gives you the kind of outcome you will never get with a very rancorous chamber.”
However, Lawan declined discussing his involvement in the senate presidency race, saying, “I’m not here to answer whether I’m running for senate president or not.”
While praising Buhari for his achievements, he stated, “The Buhari administration is closing on a very strong note. We have succeeded in reducing the insecurity that we met in 2015.
“This administration has provided infrastructure across the country like no other administration. It assented to legislation more than any previous president, especially in the last four years. Therefore, it is a thing of joy for all of us to come and celebrate with Mr President on the Eid-el-Fitri today.”
Lawan expressed sadness that members of the ninth National Assembly voted against gender bills that sought to promote more opportunities for women in politics and governance.
One of the bills sought to create additional seats for women to increase their representation in the Assembly.
However, he advocated alternative strategies to engage with the legislature, urging newly-elected and returning lawmakers to push for the passage of the pro-women bills in the 10th Assembly.
Lawan noted, “I felt bad we could not pass even one. But then, we shouldn’t lose hope; we should continue to campaign and talk to more members of the National Assembly and we should also re-strategise.”
The lawmaker said he did not regret his actions as the Senate President even though he acknowledged lapses in his performance.
He added, “I can’t say we have regrets. We can only say there are things we have been unable to deal with satisfactorily. And this is natural because we don’t have sufficient funds.
“Two, as human beings, there are areas that naturally, whatever you do, you may not get right, but it’s for us to identify those areas, go back and rework them. The APC administration will continue to work on those areas that we need to improve on.”