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Sunday, 26 April 2015

The scramble for Tambuwal’s seat

KOLAWOLE DANIEL in this report gives an insight into the race for the Speakership of the House of Representatives in the in-coming Eighth Assembly and the top contenders for the race.

The race for who is the next Speaker in the House of Representatives is becoming interesting day by day as politicians in their usual character are leaving no stone unturned to outdo one another in clinching the Number 4 seat in the country. Though the Seventh Assembly is yet to wind down, political players have kick-started moves to determine the Speaker in the incoming Assembly. The incoming ruling party All Progressives Congress (APC),  at this time, is not helping matters as to which zone is taking what in the incoming government.
Sources close to the APC leadership confirmed that the party leadership is holding consultations on how to go about the power sharing formula without short-changing any zone and interests that formed the party.
Some members of the next Assembly have already confided in Nigerian Tribune that, as an independent body, members would choose its leaders based on experience and leadership qualities irrespective of region or state. Information, however, has it that the position of the Speaker and deputy Speaker, the only elective positions in the House, are unofficially zoned to the North-East and South-South zones. The South-East will be compensated with the position of Chief of Staff or Secretary to the Government of the Federation and a former APC Presidential Screening Committee, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, is reportedly tipped for the offices.
Events in the House in the last few weeks showed how political the office of the Speaker is, as various interest groups have stepped up lobby  for their candidate or zone. The quest for the post of Speakership position has its own drama unfolding as brothers are contesting against one another.
Gunning for the Speakers include Honourable Pally Iriase and Peter (South-South), Edo State. A former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and a Deputy Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly for four years, is said to have started campaigning vigorously for his ambition. Also, the  current Minority Leader, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila from the South-West, Lagos State, is also interested in the position. The Minority Leader has 12 years’ experience in the House.
The North-West also has House chairman on Finance, Abdulmumin Jibrin, from Kano State, as another interested member in the race for the position. To advance his cause, the lawmaker has urged the party to place premium on merit, continuity and necessity among other factors in deciding who should be the next Speaker. Jibrin said the party should jettison zoning. This is as he promised to overhaul the operating standards of the House, which he described as moving in snail’s pace, stressing that, “We will engage the executive constructively and mitigate friction between the executive and the legislature,”.
As it is now, the North-East currently has two of its own gunning for the plum job, one of them is Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture Honourable Mohammed Monguno and Chairman, Committee on House Services, Honourable Yakubu Dogara. Dogara, who represents Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa-Balewa federal constituency, was among the first set of 37 members, who defected to the APC in December 2013 from the PDP.
In a twist of event, the North-West caucus, instead of supporting their own, Jibrin, has reportedly tilted towards endorsing Dogara as Speaker. A member of North-West caucus in the House, Honourable Nasiru Baballela, who hinted that the North-West forum of the incoming 8th Assembly would soon endorse the candidature of Honourable Dogara claimed that Dogara is the choice of majority of its members.
On Honourable Dogara’s ambition, the North-West Caucus, according to a statement issued by Honourable Ila, who represents Tarauni federal constituency in Kano State, added that  “He is the most qualified and fitted for the position of speaker and he is humble, intelligent and calm. These are qualities of good leadership.
The statement added: “We in the House believe in consolidation. The current leadership of Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has stabilised the House and given it a name.
“We cannot afford to go back on this and that is why we must ensure that only people of like minds such as Dogara are elected into leadership positions in the 8th assembly. Electing Dogara as speaker will go long way in uniting the people of northern Nigeria who are of different ethnic groups and religions. We want to make sure that we go back to the good old days when we coexisted as one people in the north in the days of our forefathers.
“The late Sardauna of Sokoto of blessed memory united the north as one indivisible entity and since his demise we have not been able to continue on that noble path. Now, history beckons, and a golden opportunity is in our hands to correct the many wrongs of the past by electing someone with impeccable character and proven integrity as our Speaker. Electing a Northern Christian as speaker will give a sense of belonging to our Christian brethren that we are one people and they too can become anything in a united Nigeria. More than ever before our people, have been divided along ethnic and religious lines, we must correct this.”
A member of the House from Oyo State Honourable Sunday Adepoju, who is also in the race for the pleaded with the party’s leadership  to zone the speakership position to the South.  Adepoju said for equitable distribution of position, all the zones should be considered.  The lawmaker, who represents Iddo/Ibarapa East Federal Constituency of Oyo State, explained that should the Senate Presidency be zoned to the North, the position of speaker should go to the South.
He said that the zoning arrangement in the coming Assembly would only  reflect the principle of Federal Character required by the 1999 constitution (as amended). He, however, appealed to the APC that, in the spirit of fairness and adherence of federal character, the position of Speaker be zoned to the South-South geo-political zone. Adepoju stated that, if the party decides  to zone the position to the South-West, he would be interested to contest for the position.
Also a former Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly Professor Mojeed Alabi, has joined the race for Speaker. The professor of Political Science, who is banking on his experience as a former Speaker, is reportedly seeking the favour of the Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, to clinch the top job. Alabi, who holds two doctoral degrees (PhDs) in Law and Political Science, is a lecturer at the University of Ilorin.
Another second timer from Osun state is also said to be interested in the race. Honourable Israel Ajibola Famurewa, who won his re-election bid in the just concluded elections represents Atakunmosa East/ Atakunmosa West/Ilesha East/Ilesha West in the House.

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