By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA-Ahead of the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly on June 10, 2019, members of the House of Representatives from the northern region have begun moves to stop imposition of speaker and deputy speaker on the lawmakers.
The moves, Vanguard learnt yesterday, are subsumed in new narratives springing up against godfatherism by leaders of the zone.
The lawmakers are rising in unison irrespective of their political leanings against what they considered a growing vice in the Nigerian politics.
It will be recalled that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC has since adopted Senator Ahmed Lawan from Yobe North as its choice for the senate presidency and Hon. Femi Gbajabimila from Lagos State as its favorite for the Speakership of the 9th House of Representatives.
But the feeling among the northern members, Vanguard gathered, is that both men are the choices of one man foisted on them by the party.
It was learnt that though many had keyed into the party’s choice earlier, the realization of the politics of 2023 has now jolted them to make a u-turn from their position to throw their support.
A source which confided in the paper said it was the development that prompted the present narrative against godfatherism.
The source was quick to cite the recent journey of Kaduna State governor, Nasir ElRufai to Lagos where he, at a forum, canvassed the destruction of fatherism in especially Lagos politics.
Elrufai who is speculated to be entertaining a presidential ambition in 2023 counselled Lagosians on how to defeat the godfatherism, boasting that he had dismantled such in his home State.
He had said: “Godfatherism. This is Lagos. Let me tell you something sir; you know, Kaduna State used to be like that. There were three or four politicians in Kaduna that you could not become anything unless you had them on your side
“Those were the godfathers of Kaduna politics and you had to carry them along and you know, the three words, ‘carry them along’ mean paying them regularly.
“But we chose a different path and the long and short of it now is that after this election in 2019, we have retired all of them; we had to
“Here in Lagos, you have over six million registered voters, only about a million voted (in 2019 general elections); five million did not vote. If I want to run for governor of Lagos, I will start now.
“I will commission a study to know why those five million registered voters did not vote; where do they go on election day? Then I will start visiting them for the next four years. I will try and get just two million of them to come and vote for me; I will defeat any godfather. The key is to go to the people.
”The card reader and the biometric register have given us the tools to connect directly with the people. I assure you if you do that for the next four years, connecting with the people; the tin godfather, you will retire him or her permanently.
”But it is hard work; it requires three to four years of hard work. So, if you want to run in 2023, you should start now.
“With about N2 billion; if you start, you see these guys with black ties, they will give you the N2 billion. Many of the godfathers are either on paper or in the mind of people in politics. They are defeatable’.
“We retired four of them in Kaduna State within a four-year time and they are gone. One of them boasted that he put me in the government house and he would take me out”.
Similarly, in quick succession to El-rufai’s submission, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara while delivering his key note address at a conference organised by the #NotTooYoungToRun# Movement for young lawmakers elected at both the national and state levels on Tuesday.
He said: “Unfortunately, the leadership model we have practiced so far is the kind of leadership that produces sycophants who are expected to serve their political godfathers and not the people. Our so called leaders have mastered the art of political witchcraft so much so that if you are independent minded you are automatically disqualified and if for any reason you are picked then you have to surrender your soul for them to eat in small bites until you become their worshipper.
“In the midst of this pandemic sycophancy our so called godfathers expect us to fit in and not to stand up to be counted or make a difference. We need leaders who will lead us to build a nation and serve others not godfathers who demand that we worship and serve them rather than serve the people.
“For you, trailblazers who carry the burden and the promises of a generation that must not fail, if you are ever going to get there, it must be on the wings of discipline that produces character. This is because without character, you cannot be men and women of influence and without influence you cannot change anything.
“Character means that you cannot be separated from your word, a quality no godfather in history has ever possessed. Character is not only that your word is your bond but that you are actually what you pretend be. While godfathers always pretend to be something other than who they really are, Leaders do not. Imagine where we will be as a nation if all these godfathers that litter the political landscape become what or who they pretend to be.
“You must be reminded that true greatness only comes while serving others and not when serving yourself or godfathers. Above all, what will define you as a triumph in this journey is like I have said, discipline because everything that has ever gone down is traceable to indiscipline
“If you have followed closely the antecedents of the National Assembly, it has often charted its leadership course. A leadership of the legislature that is determined by external interests will never find the convergence to legislate for the people or hold the Executive to account. It is in this regard that as fresh legislators who are youth, you need to demonstrate acute perspicuity that you will define the kind of leadership that will be answerable to you, the representatives of the people and the people you represent not to some godfathers who live only for themselves”.
Vanguard gathered that it was against this background that the northern lawmakers are converging to resist the imposition of anyone as speaker and deputy.
The source added that the new development was what reinforced the feelings in Senator Ali Ndume to renew his campaign.
For the House, the source stated that an aspirant from Northern Central geopolitical zone is being considered.
No name was however mentioned.
Vanguard recalls that there are two strong aspirants from the north central who had been campaigning on the factors of equity, justice and fairness.
They are Hon. Mohammed Bago from Niger State and John Dyegh from Benue State.
Both are of the APC and have vowed never to back down their aspirations until the emergence of a new leadership.
“The new narrative against godfatherism by the northern leaders is not unconnected to the house leadership tussle. They are realizing that giving to much power to one person or zone can be very dangerous much more for 2023.
“I can tell you that the northern lawmakers are realigning. They are seriously considering someone from north central zone for the House speakership to balance the power allocation. This time even the southeast is being factored in. Remember that the north west has produced the president and south west, the vice president. APC has zoned the senate presidency to northeast. But why would an Ndume up his campaign suddenly? Why would El-rufai take his counseling to Lagos of all States of the federation. Something is in the offing. I pray for their candidates anyway. But the support for the favorite choices of APC will wane in less than no time. The game is on”, the source said.