By Abdullateef Salau, Saawua Terzungwe, Balarabe Alkassim, Itodo Daniel Sule (Abuja) & Nabob Ogbonna (Abakaliki)
The National Working Committee (NWC) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday adopted the preferred candidates of the president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for the leadership of the 10th National Assembly.
The assembly would be inaugurated in June this year.
The APC national chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, had told newsmen that the top echelon of the party was consulting with the president-elect and other critical stakeholders to reach a consensus on zoning.
Aspirants from all the geo-political zones had sprung up for various positions following the delay by the party’s national leadership in deciding on the zoning formula.
Daily Trust reports that senators-elect from the South East on Sunday rejected the choice of Akpabio and resolved to support any aspirant from the geo-political zone for Senate presidency.
The minority caucuses in the House of Representatives had vowed to field candidates for the position of speaker and deputy speaker, and yesterday set up a committee to shop for candidates.
NWC ratifies Tinubu’s candidates
Addressing newsmen at the end of the NWC meeting held at the APC national secretariat in Abuja yesterday, national publicity secretary, Barrister Felix Morka, said the party has settled for a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio (South-South) and Barau Jibrin from Kano (North West) as president and deputy Senate president.
The party also endorsed Hon. Abbas Tajudeen from Kaduna (North West) and Hon. Ben Kalu from Abia State (South East) as Speaker and deputy of the House of Representatives respectively.
Morka said, “The National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) met today (yesterday) to consider reports of consultations and meetings held with the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, other party leaders and stakeholders on zoning arrangement for 10th National Assembly leadership positions.
“The NWC noted with respect the outcome of the meetings held between the president-elect and the leadership of the NWC.
“The NWC called for further and better consultation with necessary stakeholders in order to assure the support of the aspirants to the National Assembly leadership positions and members of the party nationwide.
“We urge our party leaders, members, and all Nigerians to continue to work for peace and progress of our country during and beyond the current period of leadership transition.”
The APC spokesperson, however, declined questions from newsmen after reading the resolutions of the meeting and left the scene.
Opposition constitutes panel
Members-elect from opposition parties in the House of Representatives under the aegis of ‘Minority Caucuses’ have constituted an 11-member committee to shop for candidates for the speaker and deputy in the incoming 10th National Assembly.
The panel was inaugurated in Abuja following the minority caucuses’ resolution last week to field candidates for the positions.
It was charged with the task of shortlisting, screening, and eventual recommendation of aspirants for the speaker and deputy speaker positions.
The minority caucuses also known as Greater Majority disclosed this in a statement jointly signed by their spokespersons, Afam Victor Ogene, Dachung Bagos, and Gaza Jonathan Gbefwi.
Daily Trust reports that the minority caucuses have combined 183 members against APC’s 177.
The lawmakers, however, noted that they are conscious of the common pact, which their respective political parties have with the Nigerian people, to hold the government accountable to the people.
The committee, chaired by Nicholas Mutu and Abdulmumini Jibrin (NNPP, Kano) as deputy, has one week to submit its report.
Ex-senators ask Yari, Kalu, others to step down
Former senators have declared support for Godswill Akpabio (Akwa-Ibom) and Barau Jibrin (Kano) to emerge as Senate president and deputy respectively.
The ex-lawmakers, under the auspices of non-serving senators of the Second to the Fourth Republic with 72 memberships, said they supported the zoning of the Senate presidency to the South-South geo-political zone in the spirit of equity, fairness, and political expediency.
The convener of the forum, Senator Basheer Lado, who briefed reporters on Monday in Abuja, said the National Assembly requires experienced and level-headed leaders at the helm of its affairs and that Akpabio and Barau Jibrin fit into the positions due to their legislative experience.
Lado, therefore, urged other aspirants, including Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia North), Abdul-Aziz Yari (APC, Zamfara West), and Osita Izunaso (Imo West) to withdraw from the race and support senators Akpabio and Jibrin to emerge as presiding officers in the Red Chamber.
He said, “The stakes are high, and a successful transition to a new political dispensation is key in ensuring national unity, cohesion, and overall progress as one nation.
“In view of the above, we wish to respectfully appeal to all other aspirants to these key positions to kindly support our position by withdrawing their respective bids.
“We believe that their withdrawal and cooperation will reduce the acrimony that commonly characterises the jostle for power in the National Assembly among the geo-political zones. This will go a long way in ensuring a peaceful and smooth take-off of the incoming administration.”
Yari supporters kick
In a swift response, a pro-Yari group, Good Governance Initiative (GGI), faulted the ex-senators’ call on Senate presidency aspirants to step down for Akpabio, describing it as undemocratic in a constitutional democracy.
The group’s national president, ‘Kunle Sanusi, in a statement, said the former lawmakers’ position amounts to a double standard as many of them had, in the past, championed the independence of the legislature when it suited their interests.
He said, “They ought to understand the fundamental rights of individuals as enshrined in the constitution. Many of them on the list once championed the independence of the parliament. So, what has changed?
“The best answer to the question is double standard on their part, for their selfish gains. However, His Excellency Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari will exercise his rights within the confines of the Senate Standing Rule and the 1999 Constitution as amended. He can’t be intimidated by this kind of gang-up since the former senators have no voting rights on the floor of the Senate.”
Tinubu urged me to step down – Umahi
Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State yesterday said the president-elect, Bola Tinubu, urged him to step down for Senator Godswill Akpabio.
Umahi disclosed this at the Muhammadu Buhari International Airport, Onueke while answering questions from newsmen on arrival from Abuja.
The governor said he discussed the issue of his Senate presidency bid with Tinubu and had to accede to his request in the interest of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the South East zone.
“I discussed the issue with him when he was in Paris and on return to the country, he invited me. It was an honour to be invited by the president-elect, and he told me that he had made commitments.
“I did not want to be a clog in the wheel of his progress so I accepted,” he said.
Betara, Wase, kick
Meanwhile, some major aspirants for the office of the Speaker position have rejected Abbas Tajuddeen as the candidate of the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
They include the outgoing deputy speaker of the House, Ahmed Idris Wase, the leader of the House, Hon. Ado Doguwa, chairman, the House Committee on Navy, Hon. Yusuf Gagdi, and Hon. Sada Soli Jibia.
They made their position during the official declaration of Mukhtar Betara for the race in Abuja on Monday.
The deputy speaker, Wase said Abbas was not known to the members of the House and that they were not consulted on the decision to have him as a consensus candidate.
“I want to add that we are here to ensure the independence of the parliament; to ensure that we work together. Every parliamentarian must rise to the occasion.
“I don’t know whether that is the meaning of consensus. This place is very sacred. We must be Honourable in our action in defence of the federal republic of Nigeria”, he said.
On his part, the House Leader, Alhassan Ado Doguwa who is also contesting for the seat, said that APC did not consult them before zoning the positions adding that, it was the business of the parliament to choose her leaders.
While declaring, Betara said that he was working with other aspirants for the seat and would like to work with them for equity and fairness.