The Concerned Democrats for Equitable Representation (CODE-R) has urged elected members of the House of Representatives to resist any attempt by group or individuals to foist leaders on them to avoid a rubber-stamp legislature.
Mr Stephen Eriba, Co-Convener, CODE-R, made the call on Friday in Abuja, while explaining the need for equitable representation in selecting leaders of the 9th House of Representatives.
He alleged that the group’s other plan was to enthrone a speaker and deputy speaker from one religion which would run against equitable representation.
“This plan was reaffirmed by a statement from the Wase Equity Project, which among other things stated that Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and Alhaji Ahmed Idris Ease, both Muslims, have been endorsed as Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively of the 9th House of Representatives.
“While we cannot take the inalienable right of any Nigerian to aspire to any office desired, as concern citizens, familiar with Nigeria’s chequered history, we know that such a set up will widen our fault lines and cause further division amongst the two major religious group in Nigeria.
“The House of Representatives is constituted in such a way that it reflects true representation of all Nigerians across board.
“Even the framers of our constitution, in many instances, provided room for equitable representation for the purpose of fairness and justice.
“The National Assembly is the critical component of a democracy, because its membership represent the diverse tongues, creeds, opinions, interest and aspirations of the Nigerian people.
“In the spirit of fairness and equity, its leadership should not be one sided as currently being planned,” Eriba said.
According to Eriba, the leadership of House of Representatives has always been skewed to accommodate different religions and tribes for equal representation.
He maintained that any leadership arrangement that does not respect Nigeria’s peculiar diversity would be viewed as pursuit of vested interest, rather than national interest, and will be a recipe for deep ethno-religious suspicions, division and crisis.
“A cursory look at the leadership of the House of Representatives since the return to Democracy in 1999 gives credence to this fact.
“The religious exclusivism being surreptitiously promoted in every sphere of government currently in our nation, under different guise is an ill wind that will blow no good,” he added.
He urged those making such plans, and most importantly the elected members of 9th House of Representatives to tread with caution in the constitution of its principal officers, especially now that ethno-religious suspicions and division in the country are at octave levels.
Therefore, we call on all well meaning Nigerians to condemn another attempt to further divide us along religious lines.
We also call on all elected representatives to put Nigeria first by ensuring that the leadership of the 9th National Assembly is one that will engender and promote the spirit of oneness, inclusiveness, fairness, justice and respect for our diversity.