By Katdapba Yunana Gobum

NEWSDAILYNIGERIA: In the last couple of weeks, there has been intense politicking about who will become the Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives as well as other principal officers when both chambers are inaugurated. Senators and Reps members have, since winning their election on February 25, 2023 indicated interest to vie for the number three and four positions in the land.

That of the Senate may not have been problematic, as it was sure that the south was going to be the sole beneficiary. It was where it was going to be zoned to in the south that became contestable, as the South East zone was hoping it be considered for the plum job. The powers that be after the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu met with the National Working Committee of the party ‘recommended’ Godswill Akpabio and Jibrin Barau for the two top positions in the senate.

It is no longer news that the Muslim-Muslim ticket is responsible for the present arrangement in the Senate. Whether it is welcomed is yet to be tested, but recall that former Zamfara State Governor Abdul’Aziz Abubakar Yari now Senator-elect has since made headline challenging everyone who cares to know that he would go ahead with the senate presidency bid.

His reason: The senate presidency contest was the senators’ business backed by the 1999 constitution to choose their leaders within themselves and not based on instruction from anyone. What is going to happen that day, it is going to happen based on the instructions of the constitution and not anyone’.

The press statement by the Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka on May 8, 2023 confirmed that the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) has zoned the position of the Speaker to the North West and Deputy Speaker to the South East. The party endorsed Tajudeen Abbas representing Zaria Federal Constituency of Kaduna State for Speaker and Benjamin Kalu representing Bende Federal Constituency of Abia State as Deputy Speaker.

He was quoted as saying the recommendation were results of ‘wide consultations’ received by the party. It is true; every one of the aspirants has the right to contest for the office; but ‘does it not also exude a serious discomfort that the aspirants to the speakership were not consulted, approached and effectively engaged before the purported zoning formula?’ The party’s preferences may snowball into a conflagration in the House of Representatives, if not handled with caution and tact.

That ‘recommendation’ for both chambers did not go down well with majority of the aspirants who were ignominiously treated and Nigerians who read meanings in the choice. Knowing that the atmosphere in the field was already tense, coming with a list of favourite candidates was an idea that should have been buried long before it was mooted; considering what happened in 2015, when the party just smarting from its hard won victory over the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) angled for the outgoing Speaker, Femi Hakeem Gbajabiamila; they realized too late as Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara swept the carpet off their feet and became Speaker.

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The history against such ‘manipulation’ of the interest and wishes of House members is replete with stories of rejection of imposition. Whether it was in 1999 or in 2003, the same trend overshadowed the selection process of the Speaker. It continued during 2007 when the choice of PDP NWC Patricia Ette was rejected for Demiji Bankole; so also was the case of Aminu Waziri Tambuwal. Don’t forget that it happened in the case of Yakubu Dogara and Femi Gbajabiamila in 2015. The power of the members forced the NWC of the APC to accept Femi Gbajabiamila against Ahmed Idris Wase in 2019.

The barrage of threats that followed soon after indicated that the All Progressives Congress has a crisis to contend with; as a group the group, G7; made up of all aspirants for the leadership of House in the 10th National Assembly have since rejected the party’s consensus candidates for positions of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker.

Even before that was made public, Alliance for True Democracy in Nigeria (ATDN) through its coordinator, Hon Inalegwu Ejembi Adaje expressed displeasure and disappointment for the choice of Tajudeen Abbas and Benjamin Kalu, noting that ‘if democracy must survive in Nigeria, people must make choice’.

He argued that the North West has been the most favoured (as if it is the only part of the North) since 1999 having produced four Speakers in the persons of Ghali Umar Na’Abbas, Salisu Buhari, Aminu Bello Masari and Aminu Tambuwal, while in the case of the North Central, it was yet to produce an occupant; he therefore wondered if that cannot be described as injustice.

He singled out Rt Hon Yusuf Adamu Gagdi whose contributions on the floor of the House has made him a history maker, and therefore cannot be ignored by the party and his colleagues. For equity and justice, would the party ignore a man, who in his first three years did not just sponsor numerous bills and motions, but out of those, six of them have since received the assent of Mr. President with consequences for the development of the country and giving young men and women a livelihood.

Can Gagdi then be said to be in the same class with Tajudeen Abbas, who is hyped and credited to sponsoring about 78 bills, but are yet to even get to the gates of Aso Rock to receive presidential accent? At that, many Nigerians are questioning why the North Central zone, though crucial for the survival of the party cannot be rewarded with the position of the Speaker. Political pundits are quick to point accusing fingers at Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, who had openly said he was not angling to become Chief of Staff to Mr. President.

The question to ask is, why has the North West been iniquitously zoned the position of Deputy Senate President in the person Jibrin Barau from Kano State? Furthermore, is there equity and justice in the land for the North Central zone to be completely ignored as all zones have been ‘allocated’ one principal office position? They wondered why the North West will take two juicy positions at the expense of the North Central. Their argument is that the party chairman is from this zone.

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The duo of the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Idris Wase and Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado Doguwa in separate statements said they were against the arrangement as announced by the party on May 8, 2023. They insisted they would go ahead with their campaigns for the speakership no matter the position by the party. So also is Rt Hon Yusuf Adamu Gagdi, whose proclivity for justice has further revealed what they would do if the party does not right the wrongs.

Lending their voice on the development, Plateau Elders have insisted on a candidate from the state for the speakership, saying that is the path of equity and justice, even as the two frontline aspirants vying for the position from the North Central geopolitical zone are from the state; each of which ‘possesses unassailable credentials’.

They argued that apart from the resourcefulness of the Plateau aspirants, it is in the interest of fairness and justice that the state be given the opportunity to lead the House. How better said, considering that it aligns with the mood of the struggle for justice in the land.

If anything, the addition of the voice of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State on the impasse vindicates the position of the G7, which is made up of Rt Hon Yusuf Adamu Gagdi, Hon Mukhtar Aliyu Betara, Rt Hon Ahmed Idris Wase, Hon Alhassan Ado Doguwa, Hon Sada Soli Jibiya, Hon Maraim Odinaka Onuoha and Hon Aminu Sani Jaji.

Ina terse statement by Akeredolu, who is chairman, South West Governors’ Forum noted that ‘aside the unpretentious ambiquity in the purported statement issued by the leadership of the APC, the contents, intentions and motives of the zoning formula represent early steps aimed at attempts to cabin the hard-earned Presidency for our leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu by a few individuals with eyes on Aso Rock Power Buttons’.

For him and indeed most Nigerians, ‘it is trite, that, it stands logic on the head that one geo-political zone, Northwest in this regard, will be favoured with two presiding officers positions out of four while the North Central suffers the consequences for its innocence and shrewd loyalty of having none.’

As it is canvassed by G7, ‘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 manifestly lays the dangerous foundation of distrust, needless suspicion even as it structures nothing but combination of booby traps. We must avoid all these.

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’Many Nigerians have displayed their aversion against the position of the party, considering the party’s stand it is possible not to come clean as opposition group, Greater Majority is not relenting in its push to surprise the ruling party if it is unaware of its vulnerability in the current dispensation. The opposition parties have a combined numerical majority in the House, which they intend to use.

Speaking the minds of Nigerians in a statement which he titled: ‘10th Assembly: Do not expect us to be loyal if present zoning arrangement stands, G7 Speakership candidates tell APC’ and released on May 10, 2023 after their meeting with the APC NWC same day.

Rt Hon Yusuf Adamu Ggadi was emphatic and vowed to oppose any attempts by outside forces to impose a leadership on the 10th House of Representatives, describing the zoning formula as ‘unworkable arrangement that reinforces injustice and enhances inequity’; the formula won’t be acceptable.

Said Gagdi, ‘when we elect our leaders, all of you will not be there; it is we and our conscience and the covenant of the people of Nigeria that will be in the hallowed chamber. So, it is better, it is not late, let the wrongs be righted. Unless this is done, sir, our party should not hope that our loyalty will be guaranteed at the detriment of justice, peace and fairness. We will respect justice, unity and equity in the chamber, but only if your instruction is in line with the principle of this party. Sir, do not hope that we have come here to succumb to any instruction and directive given to us’.

That was candid enough, Gagdi asked rather rhetorically, ‘do we want unity, to say that the Deputy Senate President should go to the North West and the Speaker should go to the North West when in the true sense of the word, in the presidential election, North Central known to have majority number of Christians and the religious and tribal affiliations attributed to 2023 elections, yet North Central resisted the temptation, delivered four states to the President-elect, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu; delivered 11 senators. The North West delivered 10 with two states and North East 1 state with 10 senators and the zone that has performed like this for Mr. President will be relegated to have party chairman and perhaps as they insinuate, Secretary to the Government of the Federation; positions that the president or whosever can scream at them and they have no locus to speak for the people for the people of North Central.’

The last of what has been heard is that APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu has admitted they didn’t consult adequately on zoning of NASS leadership positions. What does it portend? It means that the struggle has made its impact for justice to be served on North Central zone.


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