NASS leadership: We won’t pressure our members on candidates’ choice — PDP

Ahead of next week’s election of the principal officers of the national assembly, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said that it does not believe in pressuring its members-elect to vote in a particular way.

The main opposition party has also alleged that the All Progressives Congress (APC)  was threatening lawmakers-elect with arrest to force them to elect particular candidates.

The National Publicity of the party, Debo Ologunagba, stated these during an interactive session with journalists at the party national secretariat in Abuja on Saturday.

“We as a party don’t believe that we should go and tell our members to do this do that. But like I said last Thursday, we as a party, we are keeping our own position close to our chest.

“We expect that members-elect and of course, they are responsible Nigerians, they are experienced, they recognize the need for the independence of the parliament and that’s why we are saying members should be allowed. We won’t say allow them and then, we go behind and say do this.

“We are discussing. We are on the same page on the need for the legislature, the national assembly to be independent and work in the interest of the people, and it starts with the leadership. That’s what we are saying.”

Ologunagba asserted that following the PDP’s last expressed position on the national assembly elections, feelers from public discourse have indicated that some elements in the APC have become agitated and resorted to plots to influence the emergence of the leadership of the National Assembly outside the floor.

He alleged: “Information at our disposal reveals attempt by such APC elements to intimidate, harass and threaten lawmakers-elect with the view to influencing the emergence of the leadership of the National Assembly.

“Reports in the public space indicates plots to arrest individuals who are considered to be strong proponents of the independence of the legislature and the right of members-elect to elect their leadership.”

The PDP spokesman pointed at the provision of the Standing rules of both chambers of the national assembly which, he pointed out, emphasize the need for the legislators to elect their leadership among themselves on the floor

According to him, this was the critical ingredient of constitutional democracy, independence of the legislature and principle of Separation of Powers

The PDP noted that the independence of the legislature was a prerequisite for a virile democracy and therefore, insisted that the members-elect in both houses must be allowed to elect their leadership.

The party maintained: “The national assembly is the symbol of the sovereignty of the people in a participatory democracy.

“The people exercise such sovereignty through the choices made by their elected representatives on the floor of the National Assembly.

“Fundamental to this sovereignty is the choice of the presiding officers of the National Assembly which must not be appropriated by any group of individuals. Such will amount to a dethronement of the sovereignty of the people.”

The PDP charged the lawmakers-elect to remain steadfast in their resolve and continue to keep in mind that Nigerians expect them to assert their independence in the election of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.