APC insists on Abass, Kalu for 10th NASS leadership despite G6 resistance
The Speakership bid of Dr. Tajudeen Abass is gaining momentum by the day despite stiff resistance by his fellow contestants led by the outgoing Deputy Speaker of the House, Ahmed Wase.
Wase, alongside Muktar Aliyu Betara, Yusuf Adamu Gagdi, Sada Soli and Miriam Onuoha have cried foul over the decision by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to throw their weights behind the aspiration of Abass to preside over the affairs of the House.
With less than two weeks to the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly (NASS), it’s unlikely that the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led National Working Committee (NWC) would review its stance on the sharing of principal office positions of the NASS.
APC’s national publicity secretary, Felix Morka, explained that the party position remains sacrosanct, at least for now pending the outcome of the consultative meetings between the aggrieved aspirants and critical stakeholders of the party from across the country.
A source who desired not to be mentioned, said the call for the review of the power sharing arrangement is a hard sell, since the zoning arrangement has the backing of the Presidency.
“You don’t expect us to sit down with the President, agree on how things should go and then we come back to say a different thing. It’s normal to talk about the consultations and negotiations. But you know that that is pure politics. Nothing will change,” the source stated.
This is as the national vice chairman (North West) of the APC, Dr. Salihu Lukman, warned against any plot by some conservative elements within the party to alter the arrangement for the sharing of principal officers of the National Assembly. Lukman pointed accusing fingers at the national chairman of the party as the mastermind of the plot to achieve their selfish interests. He alleged that the conservative bloc in the party is already spewing hardcore ethnic northern arguments against the zoning decisions approved by the APC NWC and President Tinubu.
He, therefore, called on President Tinubu to assume full control of the activities of the APC to avert further damage to his administration. He said: “As if those consultations were not designed to produce agreements, once the NWC approved the recommendation for zoning the leadership of the 10th National Assembly, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, instead of acting as the National Chairman, facilitating implementation of decisions of organs of the party, is acting as a factional leader opposing the decision of the NWC.
“Instead of working for the success of the decision of the NWC through activating meetings of higher organs of the party to confer more legitimacy to the decision of the NWC, he seems to be more interested in ensuring that the 2015 model of rebellious leadership emerge in the 10th National Assembly.
“President Tinubu’s job is clearly cut out for him. From all available evidence, he must have been very prepared. Given all the internal battles he had to surmount ahead of his emergence as the President of Nigeria, he has all it takes to return the APC to its founding vision of being a progressive party.
“The first test of his emergence as the leader of the APC as the president is whether he will allow leading conservatives to continue to block structures of the party from operating as provided for in the APC constitution. It is already a tragedy that two undeniable hardcore conservatives will be given the task of leading the APC as national chairman and national secretary.
“How can a party envisioned to be progressive have such a misfortune? Part of the test will be whether President Tinubu, having agreed together with the APC NWC on zoning formula for the leadership of the 10th National Assembly will just sit and watch conservative right-wing elements within the APC use northern ethnic arguments to mobilise for the defeat of endorsed APC candidates for the leadership of the 10th National Assembly?”
The development is coming against the backdrop of the visit by Abass, alongside his deputy designate, Benjamin Kalu to the APC national headquarters and no fewer than 150 newly and returning members of the House who are in full support of his speakership bid. Senator Adamu, who is believed to be supporting aggrieved aspirants, was however taken aback by the show of solidarity displayed by Reps-elect on Abass entourage.
Adamu, who insisted that all members-elect should introduce themselves individually, was shocked to see that even members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Labour Party (LP), and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) were part of the delegation.
It actually took members of the team who were forced to remain upstanding close to 30 minutes to introduce themselves in the jam-packed NWC hall of the party penultimate week. Adamu’s position may not be unconnected with the claim by the G7 that Abbas’ supporters are mainly peopled by hangers-on and legislative aides.
Prior to the visit to the national secretariat of the party, a key member of the G7 and House leader, Ado Alhassan Doguwa stepped down for Abass in deference to the party position.
The resolve by Mr. Ikenga Ugochinyere and 62 other members of the opposition political parties further bolstered Abass speakership bid. Order Paper Nigeria, the country’s premier, private and independent multi-platform Parliament-focused organisation dedicated to reporting, tracking and archiving activities of the Legislature since 2015 also recognised Abbas and Benjamin Kalu as top performers regarding impactful bills on Nigerians.
The team of panelists that conducted the selection had Prof. Ladi Hamalai, a former director general of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), as the head. Others are Prof. Ali Ahmad, a former lawmaker, Ikechukwu Uwanna, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Amos Dunia, Kemi Yesufu as members, while Oke Epia is the convener.
Ugochinyere, who is the spokesperson of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), explained that their decision was in the best interest of the country. Ugochinyere representing Ideato North South Federal Constituency on the platform of the PDP believed that both Abass and Kalu have the wherewithal to oversee the affairs of the House of Representatives.
Calling on those jostling for the Speakership of the House to set aside their interests and withdraw from the race, he assured that those opposed to Abass candidature cannot get the support of members of the opposition political parties in the House.
The CUPP spokesman faulted the notion held in certain quarters that the House Rules were tampered with, to prepare the ground for Abass to emerge Speaker without hindrances.
He said: “It is on this note that I call on my fellow colleagues who are still in the race to stop and join the prefect of the class, Abbas, to steer the ship of the 10th Assembly to beat the records of the other Houses in performance and achievement for Nigeria.
“Our common goal now should be beyond party and partisan politics and totally focused on Nigeria and her greater good. We want the best and we have selected the best and importantly, the selection is by merit.
“I do not speak for myself alone. I speak for the 63 like-minded members-elect of the opposition family who have agreed on a common vision for the 10th Assembly. We will transform to the TBK Group.
“Our 63 votes without any dissent or abstention will go for Hon. Tajudeen Abbas. In the coming days, Nigerians will come to know the identity of the TBK Group and will also feel our impact.”
Another member-elect representing Isuikwuato/Umunneochi Federal constituency under the platform of LP, Hon. Amobi Ogah said: “For the first time, we are trying to make history. I’m supporting Abass and Kalu not because APC picked them. Abass and Kalu have the capacity and competence. The tenth assembly will be a unique one if the two emerge as Speaker and Deputy. I beg my colleagues to support the duo in the interest of national unity.” Abbas is credited to have sponsored 74 bills in the 9th Assembly, while Benjamin Kalu has 48 bills to his name.