Ahead of June 13 inauguration of 10th National Assembly, a thick cloud is gathering against the nomination of former Governor of Akwa Ibom state, Godswill Akpabio (South South) and Hon.
Tajudeen Abbas (North West) as both Senate President and House of Representatives Speaker by the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC).
Others also in the line of fire against the conspiracy of gang up by aggrieved politicians and federal lawmakers are APC Deputy Senate President nominee, Barau Jibril (Northwest) and the Deputy Speaker nominee, Benjamin Kalu (South East).
Shortly after the party issued a proclamation on its preferred candidates, the misiles started
flying in both the House of Representatives and Senate.
While some of the lawmakers endorsed the candidates of the party, others rejected them over alleged lopsidedness.
Looking at the circumstances at hand, it appears the expectation and hope of a peaceful and seamless emergence of an APC choice candidate for Senate President and Speaker in the 10th Assembly is dashed, as it appears the contest will be a free-for-all.
Unlike previous National Assemblies, the opposition has a majority in the House of Representatives, just as the ruling party is only enjoying a slim majority in the Senate.
This development, observers say, if not well managed, may give the coalition of opposition parties the leeway to outsmart the APC and produce the next leadership of the National Assembly.
Reps members reject Abbas, Kalu, unite for Betara as 10th Speaker
Leading aspirants in the race for the 10th House of Representatives united against the zoning of the 10th House of Representatives Speaker by APC, with resolve to present a consensus candidate among themselves.
The aspirants resolved to defy the party’s zoning after a meeting of the leading contestants in Abuja.
The move is coming against the backdrop of the zoning of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker by the National Working Committee of the APC on May 8.
The party had zoned the Speaker to the North West with the choice of Rep. Tajudeen Abbas (APC-Kaduna) and the Deputy Speaker’s slot to the South East with the choice of Rep. Benjamin Kalu (APC-Abia).
Betara had accused the incumbent Speaker of the House of Reps, Femi Gbajabiamila of sponsoring Abbas, who he described as unpopular in the House against the leading aspirants in the House.
According to Betara, Femi Gbajabiamila nominated Tajudeen Abass outside of Wase, Doguwa, Betara, Gagdi and other leading aspirants.
“Gbajabiamila picked somebody that most members of the 9th assembly do not know,” he said. Gagdi, another contestant, while featuring on Channels TV, said members have the prerogative
to choose their leader, adding that it would be unjust that the party jettisoned the North Central which gave the party the winning vote.
Meanwhile, some opposition members-elect from New Nigeria Peoples Party, Labour Party, APGA, ADC have queued behind the candidacy of Betara.
At the Transcorp Hilton on May 8 where Betara formally made his intention known, scores of returning and new members stormed the venue of his declaration, with a pledge to work for his emergence.
Betara who has been described by many lawmakers as “speaker” appeared poised to win the speakership in open contest barring all hitches.
Meanwhile, Betara’s aspiration received a boost amidst APC NWC’s endorsement of Abbas Tajudeen for Speaker of the 10th House of Representatives by strategic members who are also in the race.
Betara’s declaration on Monday night was attended by Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase, Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, Chairman of the Committee on Navy, Yusuf Gagdi and Hon. Sada Soli, all of who have declared their intention to run for speakership of the 10th Assembly.
Wase during his goodwill message faulted APC’s choice of Abass who he said was not known to members of the House, urging his colleagues to guard against any attempt at hijacking the parliament.
“Again, I want to add that we are here to ensure the independence of the parliament. To ensure that we work together. Every Parliamentarian must rise to the occasion. We will work as a team.
We will not allow this parliament to be hijacked. We will not allow this parliament to be made a lame duck. I believe we are loyal to our country first, loyal to our party and loyal to our people”, Wase said.
Also speaking, Doguwa said the parliament must always be allowed to choose its leaders, noting that it was not for outsiders to decide, who leads the House. “One message I want to send across is that the parliament is one institution that must always be allowed to choose its own leaders.
The business of our leadership should be solely our business and no other person’s business.
“In a situation where you have some people in whatsoever guise trying to decide our leadership, to form our leadership from outside without consulting us I think that should be seen as a mere failure.
I remain available for consultation until that is done, everyone will answer his father’s name”, he said.
Betara in his speech said he was working in collaboration with other aspirants for the project. “Today is our day for members-elect and for former members of the parliament.
You are seeingall the aspirants here. They came to support me because we are one family. We are moving as
a group. We have been in the system for years. I was a member in the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th Assemblies.”
Aggrieved Speakership aspirants storm Adamu’s office, lament marginalisation
Aggrieved 10th Assembly Speaker aspirants Wednesday stormed the office of All Progressive Congress (APC) National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, where they bared their fangs over the zoning formula adopted by the party to sachem them out.
The aspirants led by Ahmed Idris-Wase, the Deputy Speaker and Muktar Betara, the chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, specifically kicked against the party’s choice of Tajudeen Abbas for the office.
Others who are also against APC’s endorsement are Yusuf Gagdi (Plateau), Miriam Onuoha
(Imo), Sada Soli (Katsina) and Sani Jaji (Zamfara).
They warned the NWC and stakeholders of the party to prepare for a repeat of 2015 scenario should the party allow the endorsed candidates list to stand.
In his speech, Wase said for such a decision to be arrived at, there was need for serious consultations with all members, reminding the party that it does not have the majority in the House, hence, the need to have everyone to agree with such a zoning template.
He said: “What was on social media, again, was the zoning and the micro zoned to particular individuals. As I speak to you sir, I want to say categorically that none of us here was approached or consulted even for a second to find our opinion and thought on what was going to be done or what has happened.
“Your Excellency, sir, that is the crux of matter and we feel betrayed by that action. We feel that as if our contributions are not recognized, we feel as if we are not members of this family. We feel that we have given our best but now the best is no longer needed.
Speaking also, Betara said there was no time two presiding positions were zoned to the same zone and warned the party against the consequences of such decision.
Resistance against APC choice of Akpabio, Barau as preferred candidate
On Thursday, immediate past Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulazeez Yari threatened that North will sink the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) except the party reverses the zoning formula.
Addressing the National Chairman of APC, Abdullahi Adamu and other National Working Committee (NWC) members when he led a group of aggrieved senators, including Sani Musa, Orji Uzor Kalu, and Osita Izunaso, who were barred by the party’s zoning formula from contesting the Senate President, Yari assured that APC will become history in the North if it continues to push the adoption of the zoning formula.
Lamenting what he described as contravention of democratic tenets, injustice and abuse of loyalty in the party’s choice of the leadership of the 10th Assembly, the former Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) said “Mr. Chairman we are not undermining what you are doing, but we are doing this for the sake of this party to grow and we are doing it for the best interest of the party because where we are talking today, if we from the North take another decision, it will not be good to all of us and it will become history which we don’t want that to happen.
“And only if we do justice, that will protect that from happening but we should all pick our pen today and write it, which is 11th May. Anything from the contrary, walahi the Northern Nigeria will take another decision.
“So, Mr chairman, we have been in this game and we understand it very well and it is about dialogue. We are saying party supremacy and we are looking at the election we won in 2023 and the next election is 2027, it depends on how we play the part.
“The president-elect got 63.4 percent in the northern extraction. Where he came from in the South, he got 36.6 percent. Atiku Abubakar from Northern Nigeria got 68.8 percent of the total vote in the North and he got from Southern Nigeria 33.2 percent.
“So, now if there is anyone who can say we own APC; we in northern Nigeria own the president elect. Without undermining any part of the country.
They have given their best and we can understand their situation but justice needs to be done. We should not be blinded that the power of anyone is not absolute but only God is absolute.
“We should not look at these four years as 20 years and then we are going into another election. We are going back to the next election, we should underline that we are elected and we are going to be looking for another election.
”He also cautioned that if the APC insists on going by its zoning arrangements, the opposition may do the nomination and have their way, which he said will become a problem for the party.
Least Northcentral can take is Deputy Senate President – Sani Musa
One of the key contenders for the office of Senate President, Sani Musa, has said the least the North Central zone of the country will accept from the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) is Deputy Senate President, even as he warned that membership of the party is voluntary while principles are involuntary.
Sani said this during a meeting with the national chairman of APC, Abdullahi Adamu, where he expressed shock that despite the altruistic decision of North Central caucus of the party to allow a southern Christian emerge as Senate President in view of the secularity of Nigeria, APC still did not consider North Central worthy for any position in the 10th National Assembly.
He said “When I made my declaration, I said, looking at the secularity of this country and looking at the permutations when we took the risk of same faith ticket and we were successful.
There are certain times we should not push our luck. I said, we have competent distinguished Senators-elect from anywhere. That is, because we have a Muslim President elect. We have a Muslim Vice President elect and we thought that at least the third person should be a Christian.
“As leader of the North Central, we had a caucus meeting before the decision was taken and after it was taken. The caucus agreed that I should make my declaration known to Nigerians.
We looked at the secularity of the country and our caucus now said we should go for the Deputy Senate President. Your formula was a blow to us and we felt are we really part of this country? Because when you are even talking about the North, we have always been at the receiving end.”
“I am very sure you will go back and take a look especially when we are talking about internal democracy because even the issue of the National Assembly is an issue of internal democracy.
“Our geographical settings have become like institutions. You cannot give positions to individuals”.
Northern coalition rejects APC’s adoption of Akpabio, Abbas
The Coalition of Northern Group (CNG) also rejected the adoption of the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio and a member of the House of Representatives, Hon.
Tajudeen Abbas, as the next Senate President and Speaker of the House of the Green Chamber, respectively.
The group also called on the the attention of the incoming President to watch his back and guard against entrenched Judases who are bent on pitching him against democracy,
Addressing journalists in Abuja during a world press conference, spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman cautioned the President-elect against the antics of vested personal interests like those represented by El-Rufai and Ganduje.
Akeredolu says Northwest clinching two presiding officers is illogical
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State also rejected the zoning arrangement for the leadership positions of the 10th National Assembly, announced by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Condemning this zoning formula, Akeredolu, who is also the Chairman of the Southwest
Governors Forum (SGF), said the zoning arrangement was skewed in injustice.
The governor, in a statement issued in Akure, the Ondo state capital, wondered why a political zone would be favoured with two slots at the instance of others in the “permutation” carried out by the ruling party.
“It is an insidious permutation that North East will be deprived in the face of the unsavoury generosity dispensed through two slots to a particular geo-political zone. It is self-repudiating for one to argue, therefore, that the Speaker of the House of Representatives cannot also emerge from the North East.
“Therefore, the move to zone the National Assembly leadership positions on the behest of interested personalities with perceived closeness to the President-elect manifestingly lays the dangerous foundation of distrust, and needless suspicion even as it structures nothing but a combination of booby traps. We must avoid all these,” he said.
Adamu has assured the aggrieved lawmakers that the party would embark on further consultations and would get back to them, stressing that the statement issued by the party clearly stated that the party leadership would endeavour to do more consultations so that everyone would be carried along.
He said “There is nothing we do that may not be challenged here and there. But let us be able to attend the best possible consultation with people giving them their right of fair hearing before we can say yes we are changing positions or we are not changing positions.
“I plead with you in good conscience to give us a little time to take a good and better look at your presentation and open our ears and our eyes the more to hear more and see more before we can come with finality of your submission and the outcome of it. I thank you for your approach.
“Hold the fire until the last word is heard from us. We are the custodians of the party as NWC, but we are not acting alone. The voice of the president-elect is an essential voice. We must accommodate him, the best we can. I will not compromise on that. So, he is right now outside the country and by the grace of God, when he comes back, we will go back to the drawing board and put our heads together again and see what we will get.
“I cannot preempt that, I will wait until we hold that meeting with Mr president-elect, the same team that we had the same meeting with. If we need to enlarge the committee we will do so, we will be better informed through contributions that will be made.”
Opposition parties pick 13-man C’ttee to select Reps Speaker, Deputy
Opposition parties in the incoming 10th National Assembly have unveiled a 13 man committee to shortlist, screen and eventually recommend speakership and deputy speakership candidates from amongst them.
Recall that the parties met and resolved to contest the top positions in the 10th House of Representatives.
In a statement released in Abuja on Monday by the minority caucus signed by the trio of its spokesmen: Hon. Afam Victor Ogene, Hon. Dachung Bagos and Hon. Gaza Jonathan Gbefwi, the opposition parties said it had the numerical strength of 183 to square up with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) which has 177 members.
The opposition named Hon. Nicholas Mutu as Chairman, and Hon. Afam Victor Ogene as Secretary of the screening committee.
The statement read in parts: “Barely one week ago, precisely on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, We, the seven political parties which make up the minority bloc of the 10th Assembly of the House of Representatives, announced to the Nigerian people, via your different media organs, that it would, ultimately, seek to field candidates for the offices of Speaker and Deputy Speaker from among our ranks.
“This position has largely been foisted on the emergent 10th Assembly by the discordant tunes coming from the stable of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
“Conscious, however, of the common pact which our respective political parties have with the Nigerian people, to wit, ‘holding government accountable to the people,’ we resolved to step into the arena, by offering credible and alternative leadership options.
Meanwhile, in the green chamber, while the ruling party has 177 members elect, opposition parties have 143 members elect.