As the eighth House shuts down in a couple days, the politicking of who succeeds Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara in office as Speaker is becoming intense with most of the aspirants carefully playing their cards to outsmart one another.
The ongoing quest for the next Speaker of the House of Representatives according to many political observers have been labeled a two-horse race between Honourable Umaru Mohammed Bago, the member representing Chanchanga Federal Constituency of Niger State and the incumbent Leader of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (APC Lagos).
Despite the zoning formula which seems to favour Gbajabiamila, Bago’s doggedness to claim the principal position in the green chambers has endeared him to his fellow lawmakers and he [Bago] is now largely seen as one who may spring the surprise of deflating the towering Gbajabiamila’s speakership campaign.
ALSO READ: The dangerous generation
Advancing on his strength of building people-centric relationships, Bago who was adjudged by his supporters as highly ‘relatable’ said his campaign will focus on the establishment of a functional and enduring relationship with his stakeholders.
Lawmakers who are supporting Bago are putting up a good debate on why the APC leadership should give north-central chance to get the speakership of the 9th assembly.
One of the points advanced Bago’s supporters is ‘federal character’ – they hold that the position of the speakership should be zoned to the North Central since the North-West has Mr President, the South-West has the Vice President and the Senate President has been zoned to the North-East.
If APC is to go by popular support and equitable zoning formula, the 9th speakership will almost seem a perfect hard-earned right of the north-central.
The Senate presidency was zoned to the North-East, being the zone that contributed the highest number of votes after the North-West, as such the proponents in this line of though believe the speakership position will naturally go to the next in line – the North-Central zone – which produced the second largest votes after the North-East (2,465,599).
The Bago’s camp are not only mounting pressure on the presidency but also lobbying with lawmakers from the North Central states to seek compensation for delivering the third largest votes to the second-term election of President Buhari on February 23.
Bago’s candidacy boosted as 156 members-elect reportedly declared their support for him
Bago was said to have got the endorsement of the members-elect after a meeting held at a location in Gwarimpa, Abuja, recently, where they all decided to vote for him during the election.
The Director of Media and Publicity of Bago’s Campaign, Hon Afam Ogene, while reacting to the said endorsement, said: “Yes we have been meeting and we will continue to meet because ours is ideal to ensure equity and fairness among the six geopolitical zones of the country.”
According to him, “We believe that Hon Bago is more than qualified to be Speaker, and coming from the North Central that has never occupied the position, we are sure he will be elected. ”Meanwhile, Gbajabiamila is not leaving any stone unturned – his camp is very active and they have toured almost the entire country soliciting support for his candidature.
Gbajabiamila has also resorted to play up the ethnic and religious sentiments to avoid missing the highly contested seat like he did in 2015. The Lagos lawmaker is today seen more at Islamic events or sometimes visiting highly revered Islamic clerics.
He recently travelled to Saudi Arabia for a lesser hajj and was pictured leading an Islamic prayer in another session. Critics have however alleged that Gbajabiamila is also an elder in a Pentecostal Church.
However, those in Gbajabiamila’s camp have dispelled the allegation of double faith, saying Gbajabiamila’s one of parents is a Moslem while the other is a Christian.At the moment, the PDP has 128 members (including additional seven fresh members declared winners on Saturday by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) after a Supreme Court judgement annuling the APC’s victory in the last general elections).
Aside the foregoing, findings revealed that there are underground plots by some chieftains in the APC to back off Gbajabiamila’s campaign and support a candidate of north-central extract. According to feelers in the House of Representatives, majority of the returning lawmakers and a section of the APC have teamed up with Hon. Bago and are vehemently working against the combatant-like disposition of the national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole and National leader, Bola Tinubu in delivering the speakership position to Gbajabiamila.