Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, majority leader, Alhassan Ado Doguwa and two others have gone against the consensus candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the speakership of the 10th assembly.
Top contenders for the speaker’s seat, some of whom are in the current leadership of the 9th House, opposed the move by the APC to announce consensus candidates without due consultation with stakeholders in the chamber.
The National Working Committee of the APC had on Monday officially announced a former Minority Leader of the Senate and immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godwin Akpabio, from the South-South, as its consensus candidate for the position of President of the Senate.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Barau Jibrin, from the North-West, was nominated for the position of the Deputy President of the Senate.
In the House, the seat of Speaker was zoned to the North-West, with Tajudeen Abbas, as the consensus candidate.
The South-East clinched the slot of Deputy Speaker, with the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, emerging as the party’s candidate.
Nevertheless, the current Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Aliyu Betara (APC/Borno), amidst reports of the zoning plan released by the NWC of the APC, officially declared his speakership bid in Abuja on Monday night.
At the declaration ceremony were co-aspirants who had formed a group to move against the APC aspirants.
Members of the group, according to the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, are the Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado Doguwa; Chairman of the House Committee on Water Resources, Sada Soli; and a former member of the House who is now member-elect, Sani Jaji; and Betara.
However, another front-runner in the speakership race, Yusuf Gagdi, was in attendance. A photograph showing the five aspirants together with Gagdi later emerged online.
Wase and Gagdi are from Plateau State in the North-Central; Betara is from Borno State in the North-East; Soli is from Katsina State in the North-West, while Jaji is from Zamfara State also in the North-West.
Deputy Speaker faults APC
Wase, who spoke at Betara’s declaration, after some aspirants had spoken, said, ‘’We are here for the very reasons enumerated by Sada (Soli), to ensure the independence of the parliament, to ensure that we work as a family. What we are witnessing today, we have never seen that kind of moment in the parliament and that is why every parliamentarian must rise to the occasion; to defend that institution, to ensure we do the right thing.”
The Deputy Speaker noted that the G-4 had become G-5, with the “additional one finger that we had, that is Hon Ado Doguwa.”
Wase said, “We will work as a team. We will not allow this parliament to be disgraced. 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, loyal to our people.
“Like my Leader (Doguwa) did mention when you say you have a consensus candidate, the language for consensus is very simple; it means that you have had a massive consultation, people were brought to the table for discussion and there is an agreement. But in this case, we just saw and we are hearing rumours, speculations that some people have been made consensus candidates. I don’t know whether that is the meaning of consensus.
“I am a democrat. I came into the parliament in 2007 and by the grace of God I am into my fifth term, and I give glory to God. This place is very sacred. It is honourable and that is why we are called honourable members. We must be honourable in our dealings, actions, and activities in defence of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We have agreed that we will all work together, the five of us.”
In his remarks, Betara said he was shocked that Gbajabiamila did not nominate one of the House leaders and key members of the House to be the next Speaker. According to him, many current members of the chamber do not know Abbas.
Betara partly said, “We are one family. We are moving as a group to get back to the institution. As the engine room of the legislature, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila gave me a name. He calls me the Head Boy. I was surprised that my friend, my boss, nominated one person outside of all of us here.
“If today the Deputy Speaker of the House is contesting, the Chairman (of the Committee on) Appropriation is contesting, the Majority Leader is contesting, then who is closer to the speaker? Nobody! He is picking one person that members of the 9th Assembly – some of us – even don’t know. The 9th Assembly members –a lot of us – (don’t know him).”
Doguwa, who had in an interview with our correspondent earlier on Monday said he would obey the decision of the APC, said he remained in the race.
“I want to put on record that I am still an aspirant for the office of the Speaker of the 10th House of Representatives, God willing,” Doguwa stated, adding that whoever wants to be a successful speaker of the House must be willing to work with Betara whom he described as a “shock absorber.”
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