Barely 24 hours after the All Progressives Congress (APC) zoned the positions of presiding officers of the National Assembly, the lawmakers-elect in the two chambers have squared up for a fight to resist ‘imposition’ of any sort.
At the end of its meeting Monday, the APC zoned the position of Senate President to South-south with Akpabio as its choice, and Barau Jubrin from North-west as the party’s choice for the position of Deputy Senate President.
For the position of Speaker House of Representatives, the party settled for Abass Tajudeen also from North-west and Banjamin Kalu, from the South-east, as his deputy.
Daring the party however, Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations Aliyu Betara formally declared his intention for the speakership Monday night.
in attendance were other speakership aspirants namely; Deputy Speaker Idris Wase, Majority Leader Alhassan Ado Doguwa, Chairman House Committee on Navy Yusuf Gagdi and Hon. Sada Soli.
In his goodwill message, Wase faulted APC’s choice of Abass, who he said was not known to members of the House, urging his colleagues to guard against any attempt at hijacking the parliament.
“Again, I want to add that we are here to ensure the independence of the parliament and to ensure that we work together. Every parliamentarian must rise to the occasion. We will work as a team. We will not allow this parliament to be hijacked. We will not allow this parliament to be made a lame duck. I believe we are loyal to our country first, loyal to our party and loyal to our people.
“When you say you have a consensus candidate, the language for consensus is that there has been mass consultation; people go to the table for discussion. There is agreement. In this case, we just saw and we are hearing rumours, speculations that some people have been made consensus candidates. I don’t know whether that is the meaning of consensus. This place is very sacred. We must be honourable in our action in defence of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, Wase said.
Also speaking, Doguwa said the parliament must always be allowed to choose its leaders, adding that it was not for outsiders to decide who leads the House.
“One message I want to send across is that the parliament is one institution that must always be allowed to choose its own leaders. The business of our leadership should be solely our business and no other person’s business.
“In a situation where you have some people in whatsoever guise trying to decide our leadership, to form our leadership from outside without consulting us, I think that should be seen as a mere failure. I remain available for consultation until that is done, everyone will answer his father’s name,” he said.
in his short speech, Betara said he was working in collaboration with other aspirants for the project.
“My name is Muktar Aliyu Betara. I am from Borno state. Much has been said about Betara. I invited all of you here to declare for the speakership of the 10th assembly. I am supposed to read this speech, but I think it will take time. All has been said about me. The most important thing today is for me to declare that I am contesting for the speakership.
“Today is our day for members-elect and for former members of the parliament. You are seeing all the aspirants here. They came to support me because we are one family. We are moving as a group. We have been in the system for years. I was a member in the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th assemblies,” he said.
…North-central senators-elect too
Similarly, eighteen out of the nineteen senators – elect from North Central geo-political zone rejected the APC zoning arrangement.
In an open letter to the APC national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, they said the position followed the rejection of the region in the sharing formula.
The letter, signed by the 18 senators – elect and sighted by our reporter reads : ” We the North Central Senators-elect Caucus met on Monday the 8th May 2023 and resolved as follows:
“That the North Central as a geopolitical zone in Nigeria has paid its dues in the political stability of the country and shall continue to do so, but where we see open denial of our rights and privileges, we will have no option than to voice out in the interest of the zone and its people we represent.
“It is pertinent to know that we are fully committed to supporting the incoming administration of the President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for a better Nigeria.
“This can only happen if fairness, equity and justice are ensured. It is on record that the North Central gave the APC 41 per cent of her votes to victory, hence we equally deserve as others.
“Our caucus reviewed the proposed zoning structure released, and we are not pleased and comfortable with the allocation of the Positions of the Deputy Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the 10th National Assembly to a particular geopolitical zone of the country (North-West), we hereby reject it.
“The convention has always been that the six geopolitical zones of the country will have one each of the six positions. Now that the South West and North East have produced the President-elect and Vice President-Elect respectively, it is only fair and natural that the positions of the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives should be shared amongst the other four geopolitical zones, that is the North Central, South South, South East and North West.
“Sequel to the above, we as a caucus, is calling on the All Progressives Congress (APC) to immediately retract its earlier decision which schemes us out of the power sharing formula of the Country and cede the position of the Deputy Senate President to the North Central Zone so as to ensure fairness, equity and justice for a smooth 10th Senate.”
The 18 senators-elect who signed the letter are Mohammed Sani Musa (Niger East); Ashiru Oyelola Yisa (Kwara South); Sadiq Umar Suleiman (Kwara North); Mustapha Saliu (Kwara Central) and Isah Jibrin (Kogi East).
Others include Senators Abba Moro (Benue South); Godiya Akwashiki (Nassarawa North); Ahmed Aliyu Wadada (Nassarawa West); Ireti Kingibe (FCT); Sunday Karimi Steve (Kogi West); Ohere Sadiku Abubakar (Kogi Central) Peter Ndalikali Jiya (Niger South).
Also included in the signed letter, were Senators-elect Napoleon Binkap Bali (Plateau South); Mwadkion Simon Davou (Plateau North); Diket Plang (Plateau Central); Mohammed O. Onawo (Nassarawa South); Emmanuel M. Udende (Benue East) and Titus Tartenger Zam (Benue West).
The only Senator – elect from North Central who did not sign the letter, is the Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Sani Bello who is the Senator – elect for Niger North.
Meanwhile, senator-elect from Kano South Senatorial District on the platform of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Suleiman Ismaila Kawu, has warned President -elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu not to allow himself to be deceived into take a wrong decision on the National Assembly leadership issue.
Kawu who addressed journalists Tuesday in Abuja, said the only way the 10th National Assembly lawmakers could tackle the challenges facing the country was to have the Constitution as their guidance.
He said the majority of the lawmakers-elect were already discussing to work against the zoning arrangements announced by the APC.
“We are in touch with 109 senators and I will assure you that we have a serious number to stop imposition in the Senate or in the House of Representatives. Yesterday the House showed Nigerians a lesson.
“We are consultation and politics is a game of number, it’s a game of persuasion, interface and we are doing it. We will cross the bridge when we get there,” Kawu said.