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Speakership: No retreat, no surrender — Contestants

…As PDP maintains dignified silence

By Emman Ovuakporie

Despite the zoning of the position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives to the South West by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, last Tuesday, there are still dissenting voices within the party clamouring for proper representation of their zones.

File: House of Assembly

Lawmakers in the North Central are in the forefront of the battle telling whoever cares to listen that it’s absolutely out of place to deny them the position of Senate  Presidency only to be relegated to the position of deputy speaker, a position they feel is no more than of a glorified messenger taking instructions from the speaker.

The South East is equally demanding an appropriate representation on the basis that there was a remarkable improvement in the number of votes garnered in 2019 elections compared with that of 2015.

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The North Central on its part came up with a graphical representation clearly indicating that the zone garnerd over a million votes for Buhari, and if democracy is all about figures then nothing less than the number four position should be given to their zone.

The North East lawmakers are equally arguing that despite the zoning of the Senate presidency to their zone, there’s no rule stopping them from having a shot at the coveted speaker’s position.

Reacting to the endorsement of Mr Femi Gbajabiamila for the position of the Speaker by the APC,

Hon John Dyegh, APC, Benue, a third timer said, “I will pursue my ambition till June 9, on the floor of the House. Those of us from the North Central can’t trade number three for anything less than the position of the speaker. We have the figures in terms of votes contributed, there’s no going back.

Hon Mohammed Umar Bago, APC, Niger, an active proponent of the North Central movement for the actualisation of the Speakership ambition simply said: “Nobody is more Buhari than myself as I have remained ever loyal to the Buhari project from our CPC days. We must pursue this dream to a logical conclusion with God on our side. Why must the position be zoned to the South West when the number two citizen is from the zone”, Bago wondered.

Hon Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, APC, Abia, a fourth timer and the only female contestant in the race however said, “Nigeria is ripe to produce a female speaker.”

Hon John Chike, APC, Imo, a second timer simply said: “South East has not been given a fair deal and we deserve a better deal. In 2015, we only garnered 183,000 votes for Buhari but in 2019, we garnered close to half a million votes so we have remarkably improved. We deserve a better deal in 2019, in this new dispensation for the South East.”

Factors against Gbajabiamila’s second attempt of becoming speaker.

One of the major factors that may work against Gbajabiamila the second time after narrowly losing with just eight votes to Yakubu Dogara in 2015, is the issue of a Muslim/Muslim ticket.

The only period the House had such an arrangement was in the sixth Assembly when Usman Nafada was deputy to Dimeji Bankole. Then, there was comradeship in the Green Chamber which made it even possible for a young Dimeji to become Speaker. But today, there are too many interests that needed to be protected.  Another knotty issue is the fact that the number two position is already domiciled in the South West.

Most lawmakers particularly from the North might not like the lopsidedness and this could be a minus capable of derailing Gbajabiamila’s chance the second time of becoming speaker.

In all these, the main opposition, the PDP members have maintained a dignified silence though they meet regularly on what role they will play in the race for the Speaker.

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