A group, Enugu West Peoples’ Forum, has frowned on a proposal by a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. USA Igweshi, that the incumbent Governor, Sullivan Chime, be compensated with the Enugu West senatorial seat slot at the end of his eight years in office.
Reacting to the suggestion in a statement signed by its Director of Media and Publicity, Ugulu Ugulu, the forum, which stated that it was not against a former governor seeking to go to the Senate through a free and fair democratic contest, said it was opposed to seeing legislative seats as a retirement benefit for former governors.
Describing such arrangement as “assassination attempt on the nation’s democracy,” the group said that Igweshi did not speak as a former lawmaker when he claimed that Governor Sullivan Chime would outperform the incumbent senator who is Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, if compensated with the senatorial seat.
The body wondered why Igweshi did not give cognisance to global parliamentary tradition of ranking rule, where experienced lawmakers take preeminence over newcomers.
“In Nigeria for instance, Section 3(2) of the Senate Standing Rule clearly states that the ‘nomination of senators to serve as presiding officers and appointments of principal officers and other officers of the senate or on any parliamentary delegations shall be in accordance with the ranking of senators.”
It further states that “in determining ranking, the following order shall apply: (i) senators returning based on number of times re-elected (ii) senators who had been members of the House of Representatives (iii) senators who have been members of a state House of Assembly or any other legislative house (iv) Senators elected as senators for the first time.’”
“Therefore, it beats our imagination how it is in the best interest of the people of Enugu West, the South-east, and Nigeria in general to replace a legislative wiz kid, the driver of the first amendment to the 1999 Constitution, Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, and indeed an egalitarian lawmaker who has no rival in constituency representation and attraction of democracy dividends with someone else who would waste four years learning the fundamentals of parliamentary practice and waiting for his turn.”
The group therefore tagged the ex-lawmaker as a “disloyal party man in desperate search of visibility, attention, and job.”