Barely two weeks to the inauguration of the National Assembly, there is yet no clear indication of who the major actors would be, going by the failure of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to anoint candidates for Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Various attempts to anoint a candidates for the positions by zonal caucuses in the past had met brick walls, even as President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, was recently quoted as saying he would work with the leadership elected by the legislators for themselves.
Another attempt at the weekend to anoint Femi Gbajabiamila and Tahir Monguno as Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively by the North East caucus in the House of Representatives is currently brewing bad blood among legislators from the zone.
Over the weekend, some members of the lower parliament from the zone publicly adopted the duo, saying the decision was jointly taken an announcement that was countered on Monday when a member from Gombe State, Binta Bello, said the purported adoption was done surreptitiously and not a consensus in the zone.
Bello told newsmen at the National Assembly that the eight members elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were not consulted before the adoption was announced.
According to her, she and her colleagues in the PDP have not been directed by the leadership of PDP to give open support to any candidate, hence the decision to disown those who announced the adoption.
“We, members of the 8th Assembly from the North East zone hereby inform our constituents and the general public that we did not endorse any candidate for election into the office of Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“We were, however, surprised and shocked to see our names being brandished in some national dailies this morning claiming that we endorsed Hon. Mohammed Tahir Monguno and Femi Gbajabiamila for any joint ticket.
“We wish to state categorically clear, that we were neither consulted, nor were we informed about the publication before it was published.
“We want to make it abundantly clear that at no time did we sit to endorse Hon. Monguno from North East and Femi Gbajabiamila for any joint ticket.”
Bello stressed that their names were added to the list by those she described as desperate people, who “used the attendance list of one of the consultative meetings held by one of the aspirants to mischievously say we endorsed Gbajabiamila and Monguno.
“We call on the sponsors of such publications to desist from misleading the public,” urging them to ensure proper conduct and decorum.
“As loyal party members, we are still awaiting the decision of the PDP leadership on zoning of National Assembly leadership position.
“We understand that the list was released by Hon. Khamisu Mailantarki dishourably.
“We have raised serious objection to this antic and he later called to apologise but we have to make our stance known to the public” she said.
Responding to questions on the alleged zoning of the office of Speaker to the South West by the APC, Binta said she was aware that the party was yet to conclude on the zoning formula to be adopted in sharing the leadership offices at the National Assembly.
She recalled that the party had expressed readiness to allow all contestants go to the field and seek the votes of their colleagues in the bid to become the leaders of the parliament.
Bello, however, said she respects the rights of parliamentarians to support any candidate of their choice, while insisting that such should be done without dragging the names of others into it before obtaining permission.
She further disclosed that she had the permission of the other seven PDP members of parliament from the zone to address the press on the issue.
Meanwhile, a group, Change Women Association (CHAWA), also on Monday, urged members of the lower chamber to elect Barrister Yakubu Dogara, Speaker, because he would be a blessing to women and children in the North East.
President of the Association, Maryam Alexander, said during a press conference in Bauchi that the support for Dogara followed his immeasurable commitment to the course of women, children and persons displayed by the insurgency.
She said: “Barrister Yakubu Dogara is one of the longest serving members of the lower chamber of the National Assembly. He is young, energetic, charismatic and enriched with knowledge on the art of law making. He has showed enough ability to manage conflict because of the roles he played in managing disputes both within and outside his constituency.
“He is a visionary leader and he can muster the kind of support required for the Executive arm of government under General Muhammadu Buhari to have a smooth ride in the effective administration in the country which was what Nigeria desired and they voted for change in order for them to have good governance.”
She added that electing a Speaker from the zone would give it a sense of belonging, as the North East was ravaged by poverty and the most backward in the country.
Alexander argued further that the North-East region gave Buhari tremendous votes during the just concluded election, adding that “it is only fair that the President elect and other members elect from various regions to give Dogara’s speakership ambition all the necessary support for him to emerge as the 8th Speaker of National Assembly”.
While three aspirants have shown interest in the Senate Presidency, over four persons are vying for the Speakership seat.
The party’s National Working Committee and some of its leaders had sleepless nights trying to work out an acceptable sharing arrangement among the geo-political zones on who should take what in the parliament.
While the leadership favour zoning the Senate Presidency to the North Central, the bitter battle for adoption as consensus candidate has torn apart former Kwara State Governor, Senator Bukola Saraki and his counterpart from Benue, George Akume, both ranking members of the upper chamber.
However, some stakeholders from the North East geopolitical zone routing for Senator Ahmed Lawan, are also insisting that the zone be allowed to produce Senator David Mark’s successor.
Some party leaders who are sympathetic to the cause of the North East, are showing open support for the aspiration of the zone, even as the possibility of clinching the plum job has also further polarised members from the area.