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Reps speakership: Wase, Gagdi in hot battle from N/Central

The race for the leadership of the 10th National Assembly leadership has now taken proper shape as the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and leaders of…

The race for the leadership of the 10th National Assembly leadership has now taken proper shape as the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have kick-started the process to decide the zoning formula.

In the Green Chamber at least four geo-political zones: Northwest, North central, south-south and south-east-have shown keen interest.  The big question is: where will the ruling party zone the position to?

No fewer than 10 representatives are in the race to succeed Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila. Among them are: Deputy Speaker Ahmed Idris Wase (Plateau State, North Central);  Aliyu Muktar Betara (Borno State, North East); Majority Leader Alhassan Ado-Doguwa (Kano State, North West); Olaide Akinremi ( Oyo State,  South West);  Benjamin Kalu (Abia State,  South East);  Tajudeen Abbas (Kaduna State, North West);  Abubakar Yalleman (Jigawa State, North West), Abdulraheem Olawuyi (Kwara State,  North Central), and 41-year-old Yusuf Adamu Gagdi (Plateau State, North-central).

There has been clamour for the zoning of the speakership position to the North-Central zone with supporters of candidates from the zone making cases for their preferred choices.

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For instance, the Patriotic Peoples Forum (PPF), recently asked the ruling APC to zone the speakership to the North-central geopolitical zone. The group specifically asked the party to micro-zone the position to Kwara State.

Husseini Dikko, the acting Director General of PPF, who stated this during a press briefing said they consider the north-central as the middle point that connects the south and the north, adding that zoning the position to the region is vital for “national cohesion, unity, and development”.

He also stated that the APC should reward the north-central for its role in the last general election.

According to him, the PPF was in support of one of the aspirants from the zone, Tunji Raheem, the lawmaker representing Ekiti/Oke-Ero/Irepodun/Isin federal constituency of Kwara State.

“We wish to use this medium to solicit for the leadership of the ruling party to support the zoning of speakership position to North-Central going by the role the zone played in the just concluded general elections,” Dikko said.

However, a coalition of civil society organisations wants the position to be given to the southeast.

The group’s National Convener, Dominic Ogakwu, who made the appeal at a press conference in Abuja, said the zone deserves the position for fairness and equity.

Similarly, APC North Central Stakeholders’ Forum, earlier in March demanded that the geopolitical zone should produce the next reps speaker.

They claimed that having delivered four states that aided victory for the ruling party’s presidential candidate; the zone deserves to be rewarded with the speakership and other juicy positions.

Conveners of the programme, Dominic Alancha, Farida Odangi Suleiman, and Mark Hanmation, who made the appeal in Abuja at a press conference, argued that it was on record that since 2015, 2019 and 2023 respectively, the North Central had been flipping APC for victory.

“Indeed, our region has remained faithful to the ideals of the APC for the good course; the outstanding performance of the region in the 2023 presidential election is a testament to the fact that the region remains the swing zone and any party that the zone flips to is primed to always win the election,” they declared.

An analysis of the results of the presidential election in the North-Central region shows that 4.56 million people voted in the exercise out of which APC’s Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu got 1.7 million (41 percent) of the total votes.

Between Wase, and Gagdi who does the cap fit?

Among lawmakers from North-Central in the race for reps speakership are Raheem Olawuyi, Deputy Speaker Idris Wase (Plateau), and Yusuf Gagdi (Plateau).

While some have been drumming support for Wase, others say the youthful Yusuf Gagdi deserves the position for a paradigm shift.

A group under the umbrella of the APC Equity and Justice Forum is among those that have canvassed support for Wase to be considered for the speaker.

Leaders of the group, Nuhu Ayuba Shikdima and secretary, Ahmadu Babanrabi who addressed Journalists in Jos appealed to the APC leadership and president-elect to support Wase who represents Wase Federal Constituency of Plateau State to lead as the speaker at the 10th Assembly of the green chamber.

“As loyal members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), we are poised to humbly appeal to the conscience of our party leadership to consider the man Ahmed Idris Wase for the leadership of the Green Chambers of the National Assembly.

“We are also mindful of the party’s consideration to give every geopolitical zone a position of leadership for equity, justice, and fairness in governance. It is on account of this that we call on the party leadership to consider swapping positions that were hitherto in the North to the South and those that were in the South to the North. This will calm nerves should there be any manner or form of distrust by any part of the nation.

The group said Wase has a wealth of experience and is competent and equipped for such a critical position, which will in turn give good governance and development.

But a non-government organisation, Alliance for True Democracy in Nigeria (ATDN) believes that the cap fits Yusuf Gagdi, the current lawmaker representing Pankshin/Kanam/Kanke federal constituency.

The group’s President, Ejembi Enalegwu said in Makurdi last week that Gagdi’s pedigree, which includes being the deputy speaker of Plateau State House of Assembly, legislative aide to the deputy speaker of Plateau State House of Assembly and the chairman of the special committee on Peace, Security, and Reconciliation Plateau State 2018 and as well as financial secretary of PDP Plateau State 2012 – 2014, makes him the best candidate.

According to the group, Gagdi has not been found wanting in his core legislative duties.

“His rise to prominence affirms the truism that hard work, diligence and a commitment to the welfare of the downtrodden will take a politician to the top. Though a first-term lawmaker, his achievements already dwarf those of his colleagues who have been privileged to do four terms in the National Assembly,” Enalegwu said.

“Gagdi is also said to have set a record as the first, first-term federal lawmaker to have six self-sponsored bills assented to by the president. These include the bills for the establishment of the Federal University, Pankshin, Plateau State, and Admiralty University, Edosa, Delta State.

“Other bills to Gagdi’s credit are the bill for the establishment of Federal Polytechnic, Nyak in Shendam, Plateau State; a bill for the establishment of Federal College of Education, Dengi- Kanam, Plateau State; and a bill for the establishment of a Maritime Security Trust Fund for the Navy”.

He said as the chairman of the House Committee on the Navy, Gagdi also championed the setting up of the University for the Navy to improve its capacity.

“Gagdi also initiated the bill for the repeal and re-enactment of the Police Act, which has been there since 1974.  President Buhari assented to the bill on September 16, 2020, and the new Police Act addresses the flaws in the old Act.

“He is also responsible for the bill for the establishment of the National Hydrographic Agency. It shall relate to the port’s authority to give nautical information about activities on our waterways. The new agency shall be headed by the Hydrographer-General of the nation, who shall be a naval general.

“Based on these and many more, we are, therefore, soliciting for his support and emergence as speaker of the 10th National Assembly,” Enalegwu said.

 

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