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Why North Central should produce House Speaker


National Assembly (NASS)

With the heightened race for the leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly, it is pertinent for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to take the right decisions to avoid a repeat of the well-known 2015 mistake. Because, being politically correct in this regard will not just help in ensuring the party’s stability, but it will also assist our dear President, Muhammadu Buhari in realising his noble objectives for our country.

Mr. President has not left anyone in doubt about his determination to correct some of the acknowledged errors, which he observed, had been made at the onset of the first term of the APC administration.

It is common knowledge that the shenanigans orchestrated by some disloyal party members then stemmed from the inability of APC to draw up an equitable power sharing formula that caters for all the six politically identified regions of the country.

A major consequence of this was the big slap on the party’s face by two of its then members – Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara – who contemptuously spurned its bid to determine those who emerged as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives in June, 2015.

Although Nigerians have witnessed a slightly different tendency this time around, there are still palpable threats of a repeat scenario, given the display of various aspirations, some even weird, for the Senate Presidency and the Speakership of the House. We have seen, for instance, members-elect from Adamawa, which is in the North East, Abia State, which is in the South East, Lagos, which is in the South West, among others, declaring interest in emerging as Speaker.

This could surely lead to another round of kata-kata, if not properly handled. Ditto for the slot of Senate President, where aspirants from the North East, North Central and South East are also jockeying.

Notwithstanding the jockeying, scheming, and in fact, grandstanding by some of the members-elect, however, it is necessary to commend Mr. President for galvanising the elected 9th National Assembly members, through the party, towards avoiding those snares of 2015. This was surely what the induction sessions held last Monday by the APC leadership for the just elected lawmakers sought to achieve.

But again, another danger seems to be lurking in the corner for the party. The reported pronouncement by the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, that the slot of Speaker of the House of Reps will go to the South West bodes tempest for the party.

This is because concretising such an arrangement amounts to a great injustice, which Mr. President seeks to correct. Why would we have the No.2 Citizen of this country, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo come from the South West, and yet, the No. 4 person also emerge from the same zone? It is pretty obvious, for instance, that some ranking members of the House from the North West would wish to vie for the Office of Speaker but for the fact that Mr. President hails from the same zone.

This call for a rethink is further anchored on the provisions of Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which says: “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies shall be carried out in a manner as to reflect the Federal Character of Nigeria, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few ethnic or sectional groups in that Government or any of its agencies, in order to command loyalty and peaceful coexistence”.

It is pertinent at this juncture, therefore, to task the APC leadership to redirect its attention to the North Central geopolitical zone instead, for the 9th House of Reps Speaker. The APC should remember that the North Central made its most impressive contribution to candidate Buhari in 2015, the highest ever since he started vying for the Office of President in 2003. The records are there for whoever wishes to confirm.

The popular expectation was that the president will win much more votes during the just concluded elections than he garnered in 2015, had the party deliberately narrowed its zoning of certain positions to the region. Although some would argue that the outgoing Senate President, Bukola Saraki is from the North Central, it is well known that Saraki emerged No.3 Citizen against the wishes of Mr. President and the APC.

Thus, though President Buhari did not win the 2019 presidential election in Plateau and Benue, for instance, it would be a great act of statesmanship for him and the party to grant the request of the people of the North Central to produce the Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives. This is especially so since the North East has been cleared to take up the Senate Presidency.

That way, Mr. President would have taken a huge leap towards healing the wounds inflicted on the various peoples inhabiting the region, due largely to the herder-farmer crisis.

Equally, President Buhari would have convinced millions of citizens about his avowed commitment to ensuring inclusiveness in his second term in office, and also created a significant path to enhancing the unity of Nigeria.

* Dunhu wrote this piece from Utako District of Abuja

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