By Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA-MEMBERS of the House of Representatives of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP extraction Tuesday said the party has not endorsed any candidate for the position of House Speaker. Also, more than 80 youths from the North East on Tuesday stormed the National Assembly demanding that Rep Yakub Bawa must be made the speaker of the eighth House.
The PDP Reps in a statement entitled:’No Rush In Choice of Next Speaker: PDP Caucus Has Not Endorsed Anyone’ and signed by Rep Tajudeen Yusuf, PDP, Kogi, said our attention has been drawn to speculations that the PDP, House of Representatives’ Caucus has endorsed one of the candidates seeking the Speakership position in the yet to be convened 8th National Assembly.
“Such hasty and invalid speculations appear to have been given some mileage by the lone voice of one of our members who recently expressed sentiments in favour of one of the candidates”. “We hereby unequivocally state that our Caucus has not endorsed anyone for the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives”.
“The wild and premature speculations now making the rounds over our purported endorsement or otherwise for any of the aspirants for the position of Speaker necessitate that we make the following clarifications as a body:
“The PDP House of Representatives’ Members-Elect Caucus remains determined to play its opposition role with clear focus on and mission to sustain Nigeria’s democracy while exercising a dynamic presence in the polity. “While we are in the process of granting audience to all Speakership aspirants who have been seeking to brief our members on their vision positions and plans for the House of Representatives; we shall be unwavering in our commitment to the Nigerian project.
“Our decision to support an aspirant for the position of Speaker when the House of Representatives Convenes early next month would be done without prejudice to national interests, the long-term concern of all stakeholders and the need to sustain the House’ dynamic role in the Nigerian polity. “It must be noted that at the moment, we have not thrown in our lot with any aspirant in view of ongoing efforts to listen to and evaluate each one of them on the basis of valid and relevant parameters as determined by the PDP House of Representatives Caucus”.
“Any further pre-emptive attempts by any individual aspirant or supporter to hastily draw conclusions on our behalf should be routinely disregarded. We urge patience and promise to be part of what it takes to open a new and effective chapter in the history of the House of Representatives as well as that of Nigeria”. Meanwhile, following the decision of the All Progressives Congress’ ,APC, leadership to jettison zoning and allow lawmakers choose their leaders, the race for the coveted seat of Speaker of the 8th House of Reps is assuming an interesting dimension as youth organisations are beginning to speak out on who they feel is the right choice for the post.
To this end, a youth group, Northeast Unity Forum ,NUF, in collaboration with Nigerian Youth Against Political Sabotage ,NYAPS,Thursday staged a peaceful protest in solidarity to one of the frontrunners for the position, Rep Yakub Dogara ,Bauchi, North East. Speaking to news men at the entrance to the National Assembly complex in Abuja, the youth coalition stated that the action was informed by the need to ensure justice and fairness in the distribution of leadership positions in the incoming Buhari-led administration.
The National Coordinator of NYAPS, Comrade Tony Obuah who spoke on behalf of the groups stated that: “We have gathered here today in solidarity to give a sense of belonging to the people of Northeast. To say that they have suffered so much and they need to be given the opportunity to feel accepted as bona fide citizens of this country”.
“You can bear me witness the trauma these people have gone through and are still going through due to the Boko Haram insurgency. There have been increasing poverty in the Northeast. Education is at its lowest ebb because of insurgency.
“So we feel its high time they are compensated having produced the second largest votes that gave victory to the All Progressives Congress in the just concluded Presidential elections on March 28th. “So we need to give them a sense of belonging by showing them that they are our brothers and sisters. “Since the return to democracy in this 4th Republic they have never held any prominent political position apart from appointment and they should be given a chance this time around.
“And this time we have seen the quality of good leadership in Dogara. He has demonstrated over time that he has the capacity to manage people and resources through his exemplary conduct in handling various committee assignments as chairman”, he said. He noted that Dogara who is one of the ranking members of the incoming 8th Assembly has also shown maturity on the floor of the House during debates on matters that effect the Northeast and Nigeria as a whole.
“We the Nigerian Youth Against Political Sabotage and the Northeast Unity Forum are saying to both returning and newly elected members that Dogara should be given the mandate to lead the 8th House of Representatives” he stressed. However, in order to ensure law and order are maintained, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of the National Assembly, Superintendent James Idachaba addressed the group; urging them to go back and study other ways of campaigning for candidates of their choice through opinions and press briefings in the media.
“I would advice that rather than storm the Assembly without any protest notification and documented points of demand which we can convey to the leadership, you should go back and explore other ways of campaigning for your preferred candidate. “If you come here and display placards like these, people may not really know whether your mission is for positive or negative reasons. “Your group can engage the media in voicing your preference for those you support, but if you invade this place with placards, you may be doing more harm than good to your candidate”, he urged.