North-central’s quest for 9th House speaker

With the conclusion of the 2019 general elections, particularly the National Assembly, attention has shifted to the agitation for the leadership the NASS. Patrick Andrew reports.

Battle for NASS leadership

The All progressives Congress (APC) national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, may have stoke up the amber when he insisted that the party will not allow the repeat of the 2015 episode when the position of the party with the majority of members in the senate and the House of Representatives was compromised.  In that instance, the APC had chosen different persons for the positions of President of the Senate as well as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. That turned out a mirage as some elements led by Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara countered the decision and eventually emerged the president of the senate and speaker respectively.

“The first is the challenge of ensuring that this time around we ensure that we have a leadership of the National Assembly that shares the vision of the executive. Although we speak to separation of power but there is only one government and unless the various arms pursue the same agenda it is difficult for the executive to realise it purpose because legislative backing is often required for the executive actions.

“And that you have the numbers and we will use those numbers to ensure that we have a leadership that command the trust and the respect of all the members of the House of Representatives. There will be contestation, that is why we are in democracy but after the contestation and debate we have to agree, and once you have agree you move forward.

“We have the numbers to produce the Speaker and we will produce the Speaker, who must be a member of the APC. We have the numbers to produce the Deputy Speaker and we will use the numbers to produce the Deputy Speaker, who must be a member of the APC. We have the number and we must use the numbers to elect a House Leader who must be a member of APC.”

This clearly narrows the contest to only elected lawmakers from the APC, but also opened another avenue for controversy bordering on which zone should produce what. That the decision to limit the leadership to specific zones won’t be easily gulped down was evident in the swift reaction to the decision of the APC narrowing its choice of the President of the Senate not just to the North-east but to Senator Ahmed Lawan.

In fact, Tuesday, the APC reiterated its tough stance defying public angst against its decision to allot offices without giving deep consideration to the principles of federal character that makes it mandatory to accommodate all geo-political regions in the allocation of key political offices.

“The efforts by the Adams Oshiomhole’s leadership of the party are commendable in achieving a fair selection and zoning arrangement that appeals to a greater section of the party stakeholders.

“APC has an overwhelming majority in the National Assembly and has a legitimate right to make its choices on the selection and zoning of principal offices.

“The APC family is in agreement on the party’s supremacy and the Peoples Democratic Party and other opposition parties should focus on their minority positions,” A statement signed by the party’s deputy national publicity secretary, Mr Yekini Nabena said.

North-central demand

In the political equation of the country, the North-central has always been prominent and plays no insignificant role in the determination of salient political decisions. And though it has had the responsibility of holding key positions in the leadership structure of the National Assembly since 1999, it has never had the privilege of being in the driving wheel of the House of Representatives in the capacity of speaker. The zone now wants to be reckoned with in that regard.

Ironically, the APC national chairman’s alleged statement that the slot of speaker of the House of Representatives will go to the South-west region seems to negate not just the principle of federal character but hurts the feelings of the North-central that hoped to be considered for a key role in the new leadership structure of the 9th National Assembly especially with regard to the speakership of the House.

Aside from the fact the South-west has the number citizen in the person of Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo entrusting the zone with the number citizen it would seem undermines the unity of the country and perhaps gives the impression that other zones lack persons with credible pedigree to occupy the office of speaker.

This perhaps may be the reason members-elect from Adamawa, which is in the North-east, Abia state, which is in the South-east, Lagos, which is in the South-west, among others, have in defiance to the APC’s decision narrowing the office to some persons, opted to throw their hat into the ring.

Why north-central?

Making the case for North-central, former member of the House of Representatives and one-time Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Mr Lumumba Da-Adeh, said the region does not only have current ranking members but lawmakers with depth in lawmaking and administrative mien needed to run the House and facilitate seamless relationship with the executive arm of government.

“We produce lawmakers that can effectively handle the office of the Speaker without any rancor with the presidency and the executive arm of government.

“We already have a capable president who is assisted by an equally able vice president, so the process of putting round pegs in round holes must be replicated at all levels for the party to achieve what it promised the electorate.

“After nearly 20 years of uninterrupted democracy, Nigeria has passed the stage where it can be said to be learning, so we need experienced people to preside over the affairs of the legislature to establish the synergy needed by the three arms of government for the growth and development of the country,” Adeh said.

Adeh, who represented Jos North/Bassa federal constituency from 1999 to 2003, said the region possesses lawmakers with the quality of high class knowledge in parliamentary functions with the capacity to effectively preside over the House.

A week ago, the Coalition of Youth Democratic Forces in Kaduna, called on the national leadership of the APC to zone the position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives to the North-central zone.

Yahaya Lisma, the group’s coordinator adduced reasons why the zone should be considered: “this is because the North-central produced the third highest votes during the presidential election, the first and second being North West and North East. These two regions are already accommodated, so North Central is the next.

 “We also understand that some people are making frantic moves for the position of speaker to be zoned to the South West. But we want to caution the party not to tread that path because the South West is already taken care of,” the coalition said.

Entre Wase

No doubt, the 9th House of Representatives would need a bridge builder, loyal party man and someone with the clout and temperament to unify the House and foster smooth relation with the executive and thus forestall the re-occurrence of the prevalence of rancor between the House of the executive as is the case at present.

Such a leader would not only have an enviable profile, but inevitably excellent record of performance. These credentials are obvious in Ahmed Idris Wase, the current Deputy Leader of the House.

The three-term member of in the House of Reps (from 2007 to date), represents Wase federal constituency of Plateau state.

As a member of different standing committees in the 6th, 7th and the current 8th House including Emergency & Disasters, Environment, Capital Market, and the Federal Character, he has consistently demonstrated his savvy in the well-articulated contributions to debates on sundry matters on the floor of the House.

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