By Clifford Ndujihe & Levinus Nwabughiogu
AFTER the emergence of Senate President, Deputy Senate President, House of Representatives Speaker and deputy speaker, the focus has shifted to the 16 principal offices where a rat race of sorts has ensued among lawmakers eyeing the slots.
Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, House of Representatives caucus was meeting on the issue at press time.
Of the 16 slots, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, will fill eight majority positions, while the opposition parties, mainly PDP, will produce the balance.
Also, both chambers of the National Assembly— Senate and House of Representatives—will produce eight positions each
The eight positions in each House are Majority Leader, Deputy Majority Leader, Chief Whip, Deputy Chief Whip, Minority Leader, Deputy Minority Leader, Minority Whip and Deputy Minority Whip.
The slots will be filled by the parties’ caucuses in consultation with the leadership of the parties.
The question of zoning and ensuring balance in the sharing of offices are expected to play crucial roles in the filling of the offices.
Those eyeing the Senate positions include Abdullahi Adamu (APC, Nasarawa, North Central); Orji Kalu (APC, Abia, South-East); Ike Ekweremadu (PDP, Enugu, South-East); Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia, South-East); and Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi North-West).
In the House of Representatives, the likes of Ado Doguwa from Kano State; Mohammed Bago (Niger); Nkeiru Onyejeocha (Abia); Yakubu Dogara (Bauchi); John Dyegh (Benue); and Ossai Ossai among others are considered as front runners.
Currently, former Nasarawa State governor, Abdullahi Adamu, is being fingered for the Senate Majority Leader. Another senator in the pecking order is Orji Kalu, who dropped his deputy Senate presidency aspiration in line with the directive of APC leadership.
Before the inauguration on Tuesday, APC endorsed Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North) for Senate Presidency, Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta Central) for deputy Senate presidency, Femi Gbajabiamila (Lagos) for the House of Representatives speakership, and Idris Wase (Plateau) for deputy speaker, and they were so elected.
The permutations and strategies of the ruling APC in the build up to the elections of the presiding officers of Senate and the House of Representatives worked very well.
While the emergence of these personalities has been applauded by many Nigerians, it has also received knocks from many quarters for not reflecting the federal character and geographical spread as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.
The big hole is traced to the ceding the speakership position to the South-West, which has already tucked in the office of the vice president.
The prognosis of power allocations now shows that the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, hails from Katsina State (North-West); Vice President Yemi Osinbajo,Ogun State (South-West); Senate President is from Yobe State (North-East); Deputy Senate President is from Delta State (South-South); House Speaker is from Lagos State (South-West) and Deputy Speaker is from Plateau State (North-Central). The South-East, the sixth geo-political zone is yet to get any legislative slot.
APC candidates for remaining principal offices
The remaining principal offices are not contestable. They are squarely party affairs. It is the political parties that decide who gets what.
The events of 2015 threw up the present speaker, Gbajabiamila, as the majority leader immediately after he lost to the immediate past speaker, Yakubu Dogara.
Should the situation repeat itself, Mohammed Bago, who contested with Gbajabiamila is likely to assume the position. But the questions to ask about this are: Is he interested in the job? Would the party support him to occupy the position as was the case in 2015?
The answers are not currently handy as spokesman of his campaign organisation, Victor Ogene, told Vanguard last night that there was no information on the subject matter yet.
Ado Doguwa is the man
Outside Bago, the lot appears to have fallen on Ado Doguwa from Kano State. Many of his colleagues said he is the man for the job. Doguwa has since positioned himself for the office. In fact, he sacrificed his speakership ambition for Gbajabiamila.
Doguwa is a fifth timer to the House. He has been in the House since 2007. Apart from that, he was first elected as member in 1992 in the botched third republic. He also aspired for speakership in 2015 but later withdrew as directed by the APC.
Ossai for Minority Leader
Similarly, Ossai from Delta State is also tipped for minority leader. Many of his colleagues believe the lawmaker has the tact and the finesse to project and defend the aspirations of the major opposition party in the House.
He told Vanguard that although his party, the PDP Caucus, was going to meet on the matter last night, he was waiting to be installed as the minority leader of the Ninth House.
He said: “I think the party caucus is meeting today (Wednesday) and I have already circulated my profile. We are already on the way. Let’s know what the caucus will say. My mindset is focused. I don’t see any other interest.”
I think their interest should be geared towards installing me as the minority leader. I believe in it and I am focused on it,” Ossai said.