Ahead of 10th NASS inauguration: How Tinubu, Gbajabiamila, Bago prevailed on Betara, Gagdi to back Abass – Shettima

It was a big sigh of relief for the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government as two leading contenders for the speakership of the 10th National Assembly, Aliyu Betara and Yusuf Gagdi; both offered to step down for the party’s preferred choice, Tajudeen Abbas and Benjamin Kalu as speaker and deputy speaker respectively.

The deal coming just some 24 hours to the inauguration (Tuesday) was brokered by the trio of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Chief of Staff to the President Femi Gbajabiamila and Niger state Governor Mohammed Umar Bago.

The decision was announced Sunday by Vice-President Kashim Shettima after the lawmakers-elect’s meeting with Tinubu.

The duo of Abbas and Kalu were picked by the APC, a decision that was rejected by some of the lawmakers, including the outgoing Deputy Speaker Ahmed Idris Wase, who accused the party of non-consultation.

VP Shettima

Speaking in a short video clip after the meeting, Shettima lauded the duo for their decision, saying President Tinubu was “quite touched” by their rear gestures.

He said: “They have accepted to step down and endorsed the candidature of Hon. Tajudeen Abbas for the speakership of the Federal House of Representatives, and together we shall cross the Rubicon on Tuesday. We cannot thank them enough.

“With Betara and Gagdi stepping down, we have heaved a sigh of relief. The president was quite touched by their gestures because what binds us together is superior to whatever divides us.

“And we want to commend the roles played by the Chief of Staff to Mr. President, by His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Niger state, by the leadership of the party here represented by the Deputy National Chairman (North). I think our party and members will heave a sigh of relief.”  

…Abbas group confirms

Confirming the development, the Joint Task–10th Assembly, a coalition of members-elect of the 10th House of Representatives across party lines, said  the duo of Betara and Gagdi had agreed to step down  and the Abbas/Kalu ticket.

The team said this in a statement titled ‘Disregard Claims that Tinubu Wasn’t Aware of Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas Adoption by APC…Rt. Hon. Abbas Expresses Readiness to Win on the Floor on Tuesday…as Betara, Gagdi Step Down for Abbas,” issued Sunday night in Abuja.

 “It has come to the attention of the Joint Task – 10th Assembly that some aspirants for the Speakership of the 10th House of Representatives claimed that the President/Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu, never mentioned the name of Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas was his preferred candidate for Speaker, but that the President only said he aligned with the position of the All Progressives Congress National Working Committee on zoning arrangements.

“It is pertinent to mention that the so-called G-7 no longer exists as key members of the forum such as Rt. Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa, Rt. Hon. Muktar Aliyu Betara, Rt. Hon. Yusuf Adamu Gagdi, Rt. Hon. Makki Yalleman and Rt. Hon. Raheem Tunji Olawuyi, among others, have since dropped their speakership ambitions and declared support for the Abbas/Kalu ticket. It is worthy to note that Betara and Gagdi announced that they stepped down for Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas today, Sunday, June 11, 2023, after a meeting with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima.

“As of Sunday, June 11, Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas (PhD) has secured the endorsement of the overwhelming majority of members-elect across the eight political parties in the six geopolitical zones, and he is ready to compete on the floor of the House and take the mantle of leadership of the 10th House come Tuesday, June 13, 2023.”

The campaign organisation stated that the APC NWC, on May 8, 2023, “consulted with the President before reaching that resolution,” the statement said.

Betara, Gagdi mum

Efforts to get reactions from the camps of both Betara and Gagdi on the decision to back down could not materialise as some point persons in the group were non-committal.

It was, however, gathered that they would a formal announcement on the floor of the House during the inauguration Tuesday.  

…Yari on Akpabio’s ‘moves’ 

in a related development, the alleged overtures by the group rooting for Senator Godswill Akpabio as Senate President is being rejected by the camp of Senator Abdulaziz Yari, another string contender for the Senate’s top job.

A senator-elect in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), who disclosed this Sunday to Blueprint under anonymity, said everything was being done to stop the “poaching” and prevent depletion of their ranks before Tuesday morning.

“Serious overtures are being made on some Senators – elect in the camp of Senator Abdulaziz Yari for Presidency of the 10th Senate by those in the Akpabio / Barau camp.

“As massive as the overtures are, within the last three days, they are being blocked in getting our numbers intact for the election on Tuesday morning.

“The seeming last-minute poaching and counter poaching by both camps , will make the election between our own preferred aspirant , Senator Abdulaziz Yari and Senator Godswill Akpabio  on presidency of the 10th Senate , to be very dicey “, he said.

The Akpabio group had at a meeting held at Lagos Hall of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja Saturday, resolved to make overtures to Senators-elect in the camp of Yari.

At the meeting attended by the Vice President Shettima and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume , the VP  declared that for stability of Nigeria, a Southern  Christian would be most suitable for the position of Senate President.

Apparently not impressed with the number of Senators-elect at the meeting, the VP said in his personal capacity, he would get four or five Senators-into the group before Tuesday morning.

“Personally, I’ve been consulting with four or five Senators who are yet to join the stability group and very sure that I will convince them before the inauguration day.

“We shall surely win but we need to bring more Senators-elect across political divides into the fold “, he said.

Physical counting of numbers of Senators-elect at the Lagos/Osun Hall (M1) venue of the meeting, showed 52.

But a strong member of the group, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (APC Ogun West), put the total number of Senators-elect that signed for Akpabio/Jibrin leadership at 62.

He explained that the non-presence of all the 62 Senators-elect , was due to late finishing of the valedictory session  held by the  9th Senate same Saturday, which ended about 7:30pm.

Notable among Senators-elect who attended the meeting, were Akpabio, Barau, Adams Oshiomhole, Ibrahim Gaidam, Ali Ndume, Opeyemi Bamidele and Gbenga Daniel.

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