National Assembly leadership: Uncertainty as aspirants continue campaigns, lobby


More revelations have emerged about the outcome of the meetings between the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, leaders of the All Progressives Congress and key members of the ninth National Assembly over the choice of leaders for the 10th Assembly.

Sunday PUNCH gathered on Saturday that the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Barau Jibrin, and Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, were favourites for the positions of Deputy President of the Senate and Deputy Speaker, respectively.

While Jibrin is contesting for President of the Senate, Kalu is seeking to be the next Speaker of the House.

Tinubu and key APC stakeholders had adopted a former Minority Leader of the Senate, Godwill Akpabio, as President of the Senate in the 10th National Assembly.

The leadership of the party also endorsed a member of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, as Speaker, according to impeccable sources, who were at the closed-door meeting at the Defence House last Friday.

A credible source in the National Assembly sent a message to our correspondent that read, “President-elect, APC endorse North-West – Speaker; South-South – Senate President…settle for Sen. Godswill Akpabio and Rt. Hon. TJ Abass, Ph.D., as Senate President, Speaker .

“Zoning for Deputy Senate President and Deputy Speaker; North-West – Deputy Senate President; South-East – Deputy Speaker; decision taken at the meeting held at the Defence House today” (sic).

A member of the pro-Tinubu camp in the House, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, described how the South-East almost missed a slot in the leadership of the 10th Assembly.

“Let me give you additional information. Benjamin Kalu is the Deputy (Speaker) and Barau is the Deputy Senate President,” the source said.

When asked about the likelihood of other aspirants, especially prominent ones like Aliyu Betara, Ahmed Wase, Aminu Jaji and Yusuf Gagdi, refusing to step down for the consensus candidate, the source said one of the aspirants was being sponsored by a former Speaker of the House to “weaken Wase”.

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The source added, “I can tell you for free that efforts are being made to get Wase to come on board (and accept Abbas’ candidacy). He may end up with a ministerial appointment.”

Concerning Betara, the source said, “The issue is how to convince him, but if he does not concede, everybody will be on the alert. If he goes into the contest, there may be a repeat of what happened between (Femi) Gbajabiamila and (Umar) Bago.”

While the APC presented Gbajabiamila as its candidate for the office of the Speaker four years ago, Bago, now governor-elect of Niger State, insisted on contesting against the party’s choice but lost.

Meanwhile, Gagdi officially declared his bid on Saturday and released his manifesto.

However, a coalition of members-elect of the APC and opposition parties named the’ Joint Task – 10th Assembly,’ has called an emergency meeting for Monday in Abuja.

The notice was issued on Saturday and titled, ‘Invitation to an important meeting for all members-elect of the 10th National Assembly’ and signed by the Chairman, Bello Kumo (APC/Gombe); Co-Chairman, Kingsley Chinda (PDP/Rivers); and Secretary, Aliyu Madaki (NNPP/Kano).

Membership of the body cuts across the eight political parties that won seats in the incoming 10th House of Representatives, namely the APC, Peoples Democratic Party, Labour Party, New Nigeria Peoples Party, All Progressives Grand Alliance, Social Democratic Party, African Democratic Congress and Young Progressive Party.

Those bidding for the post of Deputy Speaker are Francis Waive (Delta/South-South) and Chinedu Ogah (Ebonyi/South-East).

Meanwhile, a group of newly-elected members of the House of Representatives under the aegis of New Vision, have expressed support for Betara, who represents Biu/Bayo/Shani Federal Constituency of Borno State.

The new lawmakers, drawn from the six geo-political zones and different political parties, insisted that they would not support the imposition of any lawmaker contesting for the office.


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