New deal may put S’ West on Speaker’s seat
THERE were indications at the weekend that the All Progressive Congress (APC) may have finally resolved to pick the Speaker of the House of Representatives from the Southwest geo-political zone as the party prepares to take over the reins of government at the end of this month.
Although the development, which is expected to favour House Minority leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, is yet to be formally ratified by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party, the proposal is not going down well with lawmakers who are opposed to reserving the post for the Southwest.
Those from the Northeast geo-political zone for instance, insist they deserve the seat not only as a result of their contributions to the victory of the APC in the just concluded poll, but because the zone had been “marginalized” in terms of power sharing in recent years.
A group which identified itself as “The Patriots”, made up of about thirty-seven fresh members have sprung up with the objective of resisting any attempt to restrict prospective candidates from the zone from vying for the seat based on a zoning arrangement by the APC.
Convener of the group, Alhaji Musa Sarkin Ada (APC, Sokoto) who ostensibly is acting at the behest of one of the aspirant from the Northeast zone, urged the APC to recognize the fact that previous occupants of the seat of the Speaker of the House always emerged through the votes of the entire 360 members of the House of Representatives.
Claiming that the group consists of members-elect from across different political parties, he maintained that “The Patriots” have set certain requirements and qualities that the incoming Speaker of the House must possess adding stressing, “this is because we do not want to place the cart before the horse.
We are more interested in setting the parameters, principles, vision, mission, quality and commitment of those who aspire to lead us, as opposed to supporting individuals in return for sharing spoils of office.
For this to happen, we intend to conduct an integrity test for interested candidates wishing to contest leadership positions of the House by way of open, televised debate that shall provide an opportunity to scrutinize their credentials.”
The Patriots’ parley which held at an Abuja hotel last Thursday preceded a similar one held at the instance of Gbajabiamila alsi in Abuja on Wednesday last week which had no fewer than 194 members of the House irrespective of party leaning in attendance.
Gbajabiamila who enjoys the endorsement of not only Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, but also of key leaders of the party like former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, canvassed the support of the 194 lawmakers towards the actualisation of his aspiration.
Abubakar was said to have endorsed the zoning of the Speaker’s seat to the Southwest as a sort of trade-off after he was assured that his Northeast geo-political zone would be allowed to take the seat of the Senate President.
Incumbent Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who was said to be working for one of the aspirants, Yakubu Dogara from Bauchi State may have, by the development, retraced his steps.
Tambuwal who in spite of many odds, emerged Speaker through the support of Tinubu and lawmakers from the Southwest in 2011, is said to be helping to galvanize support for Gbajabiamila to succeed him in June 6, when the 8th session of the National Assembly would be inaugurated.
Last week, Tambuwal and Gbajabiamila walked side by side to the induction course for lawmakers held at the International Conference Centre (ICC) Abuja apparently to send the signal to nay-sayers that they are on the same page as far as the issue of the race for the Speakership was concerned.
Indeed, an impeccable source told The Guardian that “we all know of the sound relationship that exist between Tambuwal and Gbajabiamila. At a point when words went round that Tambuwal was not with him, we heard all sort of stories.
So some of our Northern brothers confronted him to know why he has suddenly become a betrayer because we reminded him that without the Southwest, he wouldn’t have emerged as Speaker and that without the Southwest, even the APC would not be talking of forming government today.
“We told him that this is pay back time as we cannot afford to disappoint the Southwest like Jonathan did. So that was why he made sure he was seen with Gbajabiamila together on that day at the ICC.
He wanted to pass the message that he is with him and the people of the Southwest in the pursuit of this agenda.” In spite that fact that Gbajabiamila may be inching towards the realisation of his ambition, he may not however enjoy the support of lawmakers from a chunk of Kwara State legislators who are not pleased that their political leader, Senator Bukola Saraki may have been schemed out of the Senate Presidency race after Tinubu shifted his support to the Northeast zone.
Gbajabiamila who is upbeat on his chances to clinch the coveted seat has however disclosed that he is not afraid of going into contest with all those that have indicated interest for the position.
Among the aspirants are Yakubu Dogara (Bauchi APC) Pally Iriase (Edo APC), Abdulmumini Jibrin (Kano APC), Mohammed Monguno (Borno APC) and Mojeed Alabi (Osun APC).
In a letter of intent widely circulated to his colleagues, Gbajabiamila said he is putting himself forward as a candidate for the Speaker of the 8th House of Representatives in view of the fact that he has served in the House for 12 years, 8 of those years as the Minority Leader, working round the clock to build a vibrant and accountable legislature and legislative process, sometimes at the risk of life.
It however remain to be seen whether the arrangement would stand or if a new direction would be charted in the intense politicking that is going on as the nation approaches May 29.