The All Progressives Congress’ anointed candidates for the offices of Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the 10th House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas and Benjamin Kalu, on Thursday, said they would ensure the sovereignty of the parliament.
This followed a meeting with the President, Bola Tinubu, at the State House in Abuja and came on the heels of the inauguration of the 10th leadership of the National Assembly slated for June 13, 2023.
Speaking to State House correspondents, Abbas said his speakership would not be a rubber stamp but one that would act only in the interest of Nigerians.
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He said no single entity could manipulate the 360 members of the House of Representatives into acting outside national interest, adding that the independence of the legislature would not be compromised under his leadership.
Abbas said, “The ninth assembly is by far and I say it with all sense of humility, the best National Assembly. The legislature and the executive had a very mutually beneficial relationship and so many things were accomplished. So many things that ordinarily we would not have thought or contemplated would be achieved were achieved.
“So, whoever is talking about a rubber stamp National Assembly does not know the workings of the National Assembly. Nobody, Speaker or Senate President, Deputy Speaker or Deputy Senate President, nobody can manipulate the 360 members of the House of Reps to make them do what is not in the best interest of the public.”
He said the ninth NASS had shown strength from its conduct, adding that for the very first time, even with the cordial relationship between the executive and the legislature, Mr President was summoned to the National Assembly to address some issues bordering on security.
“So if you’re talking about rubber stamp, I wonder if anyone can summon Mr President to come and explain issues that ordinarily, he would have invited us or assigned somebody to come and answer our questions.
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“There has never been any compromise in the National Assembly. The autonomy of the National Assembly has always been maintained, and it will continue to be maintained. There will be no way that the independence of our National Assembly under our leadership will be compromised. This you can take to the market,” he added.
He said they were at the presidential villa to congratulate Tinubu over his victory in the election and inauguration on May 29.
Asked if they discussed their aspirations with the President, he said, “We didn’t have any discussion concerning our opponents who are also aspiring to be Speakers and Deputy Speakers. We restricted our discussions to the matters of the day.
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“Issues that have to do with the challenges that this country is facing, particularly the economic and social challenges and what he intends to do within the next few days, beginning with what he has been doing on the issue of fuel subsidy. Issues of other candidates did not form part of what we discussed with Mr President this afternoon.”
On his part, Kalu said their joint leadership would ensure parliamentary sovereignty.
“What we’re bringing on board is parliamentary sovereignty. The sovereignty that will ensure that the borders of the mandate of the various arms of government will be respected.
“But also recognising that interdependence is key towards achieving any national objective. We’re going to ensure that though we are three arms of government, we understand that we are one government.
“So the national objective of the executive, if it is what the people want, will remain the national objective of the legislature,” Kalu said.