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It’s Fair That A Northerner Should Be Next Senate President-Yari



Former governor of Zamfara State, and Senator-elect from Zamfara West, AbdulAzeez Yari, has stated that a northerner should be made the next President of the Nigerian Senate in the spirit of fairness and equity.

Yari, a contender for the office of the Senate Presidency as the 10th National Assembly is set to kick-off, said in a recent interview on Arise Television, that since the President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is from the South West, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola is from the South West, then the next senate president should be from north and not the south.

Recall that the President-Elect, Tinubu and the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have endorsed Senator Godswill Akpabio from Akwa Ibom State as the President of the 10th Senate, while Senator Jibrin Barau from Kano State, was nominated as his Deputy.

Yari said in the interview that it is the tradition of the party to widen consultations and arrange a meeting between the president and the members elected into the Senate and the Federal House of Representatives and consult them on the issues relating to the leadership of the National Assembly, but that this was not done in this instance.

“What we only saw in the media was that the party has adopted some people as the leaders of the National Assembly. That is not adequate enough.

“Even if they adopt anybody, my position is that all of them are advisory bodies because the constitution is very clear on this. Section 50 sub 1 gives the parliament the power to elect their leaders.

“In the party, zoning is just an arrangement, it’s not in our constitution in any way, so it’s left for us to accept or reject. Therefore, I am particularly talking about the APC, if they decide to zone, we ask them on what basis.

“Have you taken the federal character into congnizance, where the President and the National Assembly leaders were in one place for a decade.

“The current Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Ariwoola is from Oyo State and the President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is from Lagos State, while Senator Godswill Akpabio is from Akwa Ibom State and the next CJ of Nigeria, in a couple of months, will also be from the South West, precisely in October this year and he would be there for about 10 years,” he said.

The former Zamfara State governor recalled that from the era of the late president Shehu Shagari to that of former president Olusegun Obasanjo, to that of the late Umar Yar’Adua, and that of former president Goodluck Jonathan something of such never happened.

He said it happened briefly under President Muhammadu Buhari with Justice Mustapha, but that Justice Walter Onnoghen later took over temporarily.

He stressed that with the proposed arrangement, leaders of the three arms of government would be from the southern part of Nigeria, adding that there are so many issues that needed to be understood and corrected.

On the issue of having Muslim President, Vice President and Senate President, he said that it is not stated in the Nigerian constitution that a Christian must be president, or a Muslim must be president, and that the constitution doesn’t understand Islam or Christianity.

He said; “what the constitution recognises is right to religion. Today, my religion says that if I change to Christianity, I should be killed. But the constitution does not recognize religious affiliation whether to be appointed or given any political appointment.

“If the President decided to do Muslim-Muslim ticket, that is the business of the president or that of the executive. If the parliament also decides to do Muslim-Muslim, it is the business of the parliament because there are times when the senate decided to take a Christian as the Senate President, Deputy Senate President and as the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives.

“We are saying to the APC that it is the northern part of Nigeria that gave you the larger votes and by extension North West, that gave you the votes that gave you the lead, about 2.7 million votes.

“If you put the total votes on percentage, the northern Nigeria gave the President-elect 63.4% of the total votes in the north, when the whole southern part of the country gave him 66.6% of their votes.

“With this, is it fair to say we cannot be senate president. What we are talking about is equity and justice.”

Asked if he is qualified to be the Senate President as he is going there for the first time, Yari said that he had been a member of the National Assembly since the 6th Assembly, when he was elected into the Federal House of Representatives.

He said that he later moved to the executive part of the government, when he was elected governor in 2011 and re-elected in 2015.

According to him, he was elected as senator in 2019, but he was removed by the court of law, which said that he did not follow the procedure, and that many questions were left unanswered.

The former governor stated that he contested under the ANPP in 2011, under the APC in 2015 and 2019, adding that the constitution is supreme, and that he was not going into the National Assembly for the first time.

“National Assembly is the same, the same procedure and process. The issue is who does not know the procedure.

“It cannot be denied that I was a member of the National Assembly, so I have the experience,” he said.

When asked if the would be able to manage the red chamber despite the fact that he was governor of Zamfara State for eight years, a state that is regarded as one of the poorest in the country, he said that the situation of the state has nothing to do with the office of the senate president.

He however, added that many governors had been there before him, but that he did his best for the people as governor.

“The issue of poverty is all over Nigeria. Do you know how many Nigerians are living in poverty. How many youths are unemployed. How much was Zamfara State getting in a month.

“Go and check what I did in my time and what development I took there. I did the best I could and from the history of Zamfara State, what have been the level of development.

“As far as I know, there is no governor of Zamfara that served the state than I did. It’s there for all to see. Zamfara is not an industrial state, we are agrarian, there is no huge investment done in the state by the Federal Government on all ramifications.

“It is the little that we get from the Federal Government that we make do with, there is no much revenue generation in the state. Even businesses boom there when salaries are paid and we pray that we will get there,” he said.

Yari used the opportunity to confirm that he once said that the APC would collapse in the north if the region does not produce the senate president.

He emphasised that the northern region must be given a fair play based on their contributions to the election of the President-elect of the country, and that the constitution should take its course.

“Today, we have 59 senators and the oppositions have 50. So the thing has to be done by dialogue and sitting down to discuss.

“In 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari called us and discussed with us and the party also called us. It’s about dialogue and not harassment. I am a founding member of the APC, so nobody can harass me,” he said.

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