10th NASS: Southern Elders Forum endorse
Yari/Kalu Ticket, warn against intimidation, imposition
Barely 24hrs to the inauguration of the much awaited 10th Assembly, the Southern Elders Forum have thrown their weight behind the joint ticket of former governors of Abia and Zamfara states, Sen. Orji Kalu and Abdullaziz Yari for the Senate Presiding offices.
Rising from a crucial meeting held on Monday in Abuja which in attendance members drawn from the Southeast, South-South and South Western states of the country, the Elders endorsed the candidatures of the former Governors citing their capacity, acceptance amongst Senators elect, adding that their ambitions were driven by interest of democracy and the protection of the sanctity of the Senate.
Spokesperson for the Organisation Banji Oyelakin in his statement praised Yari and Kalu for sustaining the struggle in the fight for the independence of the legislature despite the gale of intimidation and oppression orchestrated by those close to the Presidency.
Making a case for the Southeast, Banji said that while it awaits the final decision of both men on who becomes the President and the Deputy, the organisation urged the Senators elect to consider the Southeast Geopolitical zone for a viable position.
Speaking further the group carped the Vice-President Kashim Shettima over his comments that “under the current dispensation, the worst incompetent Southern Christian is better than the most puritanical Northern Muslim for the Presidency of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
According to the group, Shettima’s comments were not only disappointing but a confirmation that indeed the Presidency was out to intimidate Senators-elect from exercising their franchise and choosing their Leadership in tomorrow’s 10thNational Assembly inauguration.
SEF Spokesperson said “As the Senators elect converge ahead of tomorrow’s inauguration of the 10th Senate, Members of the Southern Elders Forum have decided to endorse the candidatures of Abdullaziz Yari and Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.
“Our decision is based on the facts that both men have the capacity and experience to pilot the affairs of the 10th Senate. In addition to that we have keenly observed that both men are generally accepted by a vast majority of the Senators elect, further their ambitions are not backed by imposition but rather public and self driven.
“We have repeatedly warned against Interference by the executive or any other arm of Government in the affairs of the National Assembly. For the sake of democracy and the preservation of the sanctity of the Senate, the members elect must be allowed to chose their leaders, for this is in the overall interest of the country.
“We are bothered by the news of intimidation of Senators elect who are opposed to the anointed candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress and on that note we urge President Bola Tinubu-led administration to respect the rights and privileges of elected members of the National Assembly to choose their leaders and campaign for its preferences with sensitivity and orderliness”.
“The statement of Vice President Shettima using religion to determine who heads the National Assembly is not only disappointing but shameful , we would like to remind Shettima that during the Presidential Campaigns he told Nigerians to focus on leadership capacity and disregard the same Muslim if himself and Tinubu, so it’s appalling to say that a Worst Southern Christian is better than the most puritanical Northern Muslim rather than focus on capacity.
“Any attempt to arrest or block Senators elect from gaining entry to the National Assembly tomorrow will serve as a recipe for anarchy and unrest in the country. Lastly we urge all Senators elect to cast their votes for the persons of Yari and Orji Kalu.” the statement said.