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June 1, 2023

10th NASS: Tinubu meets Abbas, Kalu in Aso Rock


—I’ll be Speaker come June 13, Abbas boasts
–We’ll bring parliamentary sovereignty, Kalu

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja

The All Progressives Congress, APC, “anointed candidates” for the position of Speaker and deputy speaker for the 10th House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, and Benjamin Kalu respectively on Thursday met behind closed doors with President Bola Tinubu at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The meeting is coming on the heels of the inauguration of the 10th leadership of the National Assembly slated to hold June 13, 2023.

Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Hon. Abbas enthused that come June 13, he will be the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, while Kalu will be his deputy.

He said that they were at the Presidential Villa to congratulate President Tinubu over his victory in the election and his inauguration on May 29.

He dispelled the rumour that the 10th assembly will be a rubber stamp , saying that nobody can manipulate the 360 members to make them do what will not be of national interest.

He further said that the independence of the legislature will not be compromised under their leadership.

He said, “My name is Hon. Tajjudeen Abbas from the National Assembly. And with me is my colleague, who, by the grace of God, come June 13, 2023 would be the next speaker insha Allah and Deputy Speaker of the 10th House of Reps of the National Assembly.”

On the reason for their visit, he said, “You may recall that just two or three days ago, Mr. President, the reign of power was handed over to him on May 29. And since then, we did not have any formal interactions. We felt that it is expedient as the candidates of the party for the number four and number six positions, there is a need for us to formally congratulate him on behalf of all members elect of the 10th assembly.

“But that’s just the reason why we’re here to basically congratulate Mr. President over his election and his inauguration as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”

Asked whether they had any discussion with the President on their aspirations to lead the House, he said, “We didn’t have any discussion concerning our opponents who are also aspiring to be Speakers and Deputy speakers. We restricted our discussions to the matters of the day.

“Issues that have to do with the challenges that this country is facing, particularly the economic and social challenges and what he intends to do within the next few days, beginning with what he has been done on the issue of fuel subsidy. Issues of other candidates candidates did not form part of what we discussed with Mr. President this afternoon.”

On speculation in some quarters that they were anointed so that they will remain rubber stamp to the executive, he said, “First of all, I would want them to go back to history. Let them tell us even in the few instances where the people who were ordinarily not endorsed by the government of those days have done better than the leadership of the ninth assembly, which we all believe was about the first time in 12 years that the thinking of the members of the National Assembly coincided with the thinking of the executive.

“The ninth assembly is by far and I say it with all sense of humility, the best national assembly that the legislature and the executive had a very mutually beneficial relationship. So many things were accomplished. So many things that ordinarily we would not have thought or contemplated would be achieved were achieved.

“So whoever is talking about rubber stamp National Assembly does not know the workings of the National Assembly.

“Nobody, speaker or senate president, deputy speaker or deputy senate president, nobody can manipulate the 360 members of the House of Reps to make them do what is not in the best interest of the public.

“And we have shown from our conduct in the ninth assembly, that for the very first time, even with the cordial relationship between the executive and the legislature, we had cause for the very first time to summon Mr. President, to come to the National Assembly to address some issues of security as at that time.

“So if you’re talking about rubber stamp, I wonder if anyone can summon Mr. president to come and explain issues that ordinarily, he would have invited us to continue our office or assign somebody to come and answer our questions.

“So there has never been any compromise in the National Assembly. The autonomy of the National Assembly has always been maintained, and it will continue to be maintained. There will be no any way that the independence of our National Assembly under our leadership will be compromised. Actually this you can take to the market.”

On his part, Hon. Benjamin Kalu said, “Yes, in addition to what the speakership candidate just highlighted, what we’re bringing on board is parliamentary sovereignty. Sovereignty that will ensure that the borders of the mandate of the various arms of government will be respected.

“But also recognizing that interdependence is key towards achieving any national objective. We’re going to ensure that though we are three arms of government, that we understand that we are one government. So the national objective of the executive, if it is what the people want, will remain the national objective of the legislature.

“We are bringing on board impartiality of this man that just spoke to you now holding the gavel that will ensure that sentiments and emotions will not controlled the direction of the gavel.
That the policies that will come out will be a reflection of the needs of the people of Nigeria.

“We’re bringing on board institutional trust that will make Nigerians believe more in the institution of our democracy called the legislature which is the fulcrum of our democracy. Because the more confidence they have in that institution, the more we will advance this democracy that people like Mr. President has fought for from the days of NADECO to sustain up to now.”

He further said, “We’re bringing on board the balancing of inequalities that exists within our society. So Nigeria’s should rest assured that innovations, transformations, reforms are going to be introduced by us, not as your Mustang but as people who believe that the nation building should be a joint task involving the input of the executive and also the contribution of the legislative arm.

“This will not go without saying that the principles of checks and balances and the doctrine of separation of powers will be duly observed. So there’s nothing to be afraid of. We are coming just like any national party in any advanced democratic clime points in the direction of how they want to set up architecture of government that will help them achieve their national objective.

“It happens in the US, be it the Democrats or the Republicans. They will always say, this is the direction we want to go. It is not that they are bullying the parliament to go that direction.
But as a party, they must have a direction they want to go and that is what our party has pointed and we’re not relaxing.”

On the aggrieved members who have decided to go contrary to the choice of APC, he said, “This man (Abbas) has not slept for days. I’ve not slept. We’ve been going around trying to make sure that granted that the party has given us the platform is not conceding that that it is sufficient for us to go to bed and sleep.

“We are loving these members and begging them. Come over to our direction. And let’s make Nigeria a great nation. We are talking to all the members and we are hoping that at the end of the day, we will get what we are looking for.”