I’m the most worthy to preside over Senate, says Akume

By 09:22 Sat, 23 May 2015 Comments

I’m the most worthy to preside over Senate, says Akume

Senate Minority Leader, Senator George Akume, yesterday said he has not jettisoned his ambition to be Senate President as being speculated.

Rather, he said he considers himself as the most worthy personality to preside over the 8th Senate going by his antecedents.

Akume spoke during an interactive session with the Senate Press Corps in Abuja.

He disowned posters announcing him as one of the candidates vying for the post of the Senate President in the 8th Senate.

The former two-term governor of Benue State said he is better placed to contest for the number one position in the Senate in view of his track record of performance.

Akume said: “I want to be as frank as I can in the course of this interaction. I got into the Senate after an eight-year sojourn as the Governor of Benue State where I interacted meaningfully well with the state legislators and during my stay here, I moved from one platform to another.

“From the Peoples Democratic Party which I co-founded to the ACN (Action Congress of Nigeria) and eventually, I became the Minority Leader and in that vantage position, I became the Chairman or the leader of the party caucus in the Senate.

“I believe that given this track record, I am sufficiently prepared to take a shot at the highest office in the Senate.

“As for the posters in Abuja, I did not sponsor any production of posters or placement in Abuja or anywhere.

“I took things for granted because we are practising a presidential and democratic system of government and in that system, the process of succession to leadership in the legislature is clearly established.

“As a Minority Leader, automatically I should have become the presiding officer and it is important to take note of this. We are all learned people and for anybody to say I withdrew is purely in the imagination of a few.

“To say I withdrew because I have some skeletons in the cupboard is not true. I have a service career that clearly exonerates me from any of these practices that are associated with men and women in public service.

“I believe I am not a saint and I do know that sainthood is within the realm of extra-ordinary persons and I believe that given my track record and the fact that I have been leading my caucus in the Senate, I should be considered the most worthy man to preside over the affairs of the Senate.”

On media reports credited to the ex-interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bisi Akande, that the party will throw open the race for Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Akume insisted that zoning of positions is crucial to ensure balance, fairness and stability in any democracy.

He said: “Zoning was a concept that was introduced in the politics of our country as a deliberate attempt to ensure inclusion.

“Do not forget that this is a country that is culturally very complex. It is structurally also complex.

“It is very diverse and if the diversity is not handled very appropriately and in a very careful manner, it could also be a source of weakness.

“Even in advanced democracies, deliberate attempts are made to ensure the inclusion of certain disadvantaged and underprivileged persons.

“You also have affirmative action to ensure that every part of this country is included in government. The constitution itself is very clear where it states that every state must be represented in the Council of State.

“It is very important because we have to take care of our diversity. And when you talk about zoning, you are not speaking outside of the framework of the examples I have given.

“We are talking about a system that ensures that every section, every segment – be it cultural, religious or tribal – is represented in governance.

“Zoning was started by the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and its chief proponent was Chief Aper Aku, the then governor of Benue State.

“As a Minority Leader, I rightly did that in order to ensure there was a stable democracy, to ensure inclusion and to ensure there is balance, strategic positions should be zoned and rotated.

“Today, people may want to overlook and override the importance of zoning. I recall in 1999 when we were invited to Kaduna as Governors-elect of the Peoples Democratic Party to a meeting with leaders in the North and the issue of zoning was critically examined and it was agreed that power must shift to the South.

“So, for me, zoning is part and parcel of the politics of Nigeria. I think it is because of zoning that Goodluck Jonathan became the President.

“Even if zoning is not explicitly stated in the constitution, there is always this understanding that there must be fairness and balance in the occupation of strategic positions.

“We should not throw away zoning. In every zone, there are capable Nigerians that will hold their own in every endeavour.

“So, basically, zoning is acceptable to me because it ensures stability. I have not heard from the party that they have jettisoned zoning because I remember, the last meeting we had, there was this issue that it has been zoned to the North Central.



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