House of Reps top positions: North Central, N’West, S’West battle
The battle for the speakership of the House of representatives has intensified even though the All Progressives Congress (APC) is yet to release its zoning for principal officers. The race revved up, yesterday, as two ranking members, Umaru Mohammed Bago (North Central) and Femi Gbajabiamila (South-West), formally declared for the top office, in Abuja. This is even as a group of fresh Reps-elect from North-West) endorsed the candidacy of Kawu Sumaila and northern group drummed up support for Chike Okafor.
In his declaration in Abuja, Gbajabiamila, who is believed to be the preferred choice of the APC, said he is seeking the plum office to bring governance closer to the people. “There is so much work to be done by way of legislation in many areas of our lives, including, but not limited to education, health, infrastructure and alleviation of poverty. I believe many of these deficits, can be addressed through meaningful and impactful legislation,” he said. He added that is seeking to lead the Green Chamber in the ninth Assembly with a rich legislative background dating back to 16 years in the National Assembly and promised to be the speaker of the Nigerian people.
However, addressing newsmen in Abuja, Bago insisted that it would be unjust to exclude North Central from the contest. According to him, the zone has never produced presiding officers since the current dispensation, and must, therefore, be allowed to produce the next Speaker. Representing Chachanga Federal constituency of Niger State, Bago warned that any attempt to cede the position to other zones that had produced speakers before would be resisted.
He said he joined the race to ensure equity and balance in the sharing of political powers by the APC in the incoming administration. “Despite all the crisis and challenges bedevilling the zone under the APC administration, we stayed the course for the party and the president, delivering more than 70 per cent of votes cast.”
Bago, who currently chairs the House Committee on Maritime Safety and Education argued further that the party has no basis for insisting on a zone that has serially dominated governance in the last 20 years. Bago’s position was reinforced by his Campaign DG and former member of the House, Bimbo Daramola who stressed the need for the APC to uphold equity in its power sharing arrangements “Equity demands that when someone has worked very hard, he should be compensated for his hardwork. Today, the difference between the votes from North Central and South West is about 500,000, and nobody seems to be speaking for the zone on the issue of who’s best suitable for the position of speaker. I say without any equivocation that Bago is best suited for the post. Supporting Bago is also like a public relations stunt for the president, who has said he’s youth friendly because Bago is an embodiment of everything youthful.”
But, Abdulmumin Jibrin, former chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation and DG of the Gbajabiamila Speakership Campaign Organization, called on lawmakers, especially members of the opposition PDP to respect the wish of the ruling party. He explained that it is global best practice for the majority party in parliament to determine who becomes speaker of the House. The lawmaker who noted that Gbajabiamila’s aspiration is not about himself, but the country’s democracy, pledged to continue to reach out to all members of the House to get their buy-in into the Gbajabiamila speakership project.
Group makes case for North Central
The North Central All Progressives Congress (APC) Young Patriots has cautioned against ceding the position to South West. The group insisted that the North Central should be allowed to produce the next speaker in the interest of justice and fair play. The group in a statement by its leader, Dominique Alancha, said since the APC has ceded the Senate President to the North East, fair play demanded that North Central should produce the speaker.
According to the group, “so far, the party has done the right thing in zoning the Senate leadership to the North-East (the zone that produced the highest number of votes for the Party.) As for the House of Representatives, although the party has not formally announced the zone that will produce the Speaker, there are indications that the party intends to zone the Speakership position to the South-West. If this is true, the salient question will then be: what criteria is the party using to zone these leadership positions?
North-west new members adopt Sumaila for leadership
However, members-elect from the North West zone have adopted Kawu Sumaila, as their consensus candidate. They said their decision is based on his long year’s legislative experience, which they said, would be of great benefit to the entire National Assembly. “The forum endorses and aligns with the position of the party in the leadership structure of the ninth Assembly. The Forum has endorsed Kawu Sumaila for any leadership position zoned to the North West.”
The APC members-elect from the North West zone also pledged to abide by the decision of the ruling party on the selection of the new Speaker and other principal officers. The members made the announcement shortly after a closed-door meeting in Kaduna State, where the leader of the 54 newly elected APC members, Ibrahim Aliyu, who briefed journalists, said that as loyal and dedicated party members, they have no objections to the party’s position on the selection of the House leadership.
Northern youths back South-east
The Northern Youth Democratic Forum (NYDF) said the South East should produce the speaker of the House of Representatives as the region has never produced Speaker since the return to democracy in 1999. They called on all elected members from the 19 Northern states and Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to support the candidature of any South-easterner who is passionate about the development of Nigeria. In a statement issued to newsmen in Umuahia, signed by itsNational Chairman, Abdullahi Ali and National Secretary, Mr. Sheriff Elijah Waziri, the Forum declared support for Chike Okafor. Okafor, represents Ehime Mbano/Ihette Oboma/ Obowo Federal Constituency.
South-South APC, PDP Reps adopt Gbajabiamila
Members-elect of the APC from the South-South states, have adopted Gbajabiamila. They took the decision at a meeting of the elected APC lawmakers from Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers states in Benin City on Saturday. Two House of Representatives members-elect of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also declared support for Gbajabiamila. Wole Oke representing Oriade/Obokun Federal Constituency of Osun State and Jerry Alagbaso representing Orlu /Oru East /Orsu Federal Constituency of Imo State said Gbajabiamila was their preferred candidate.