Nine Rep members in intense lobby for the seat of Speaker

The number of ranking members of the House of Representatives who are eyeing the seat of the Speaker in the 10th National Assembly is now nine.

This is in spite of the fact that the incumbent Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, was also re-elected for a sixth term and will be in the House.

The current National Assembly was inaugurated in June 2019 and the 10th is expected to be inaugurated the same this year.

The latest declaration of interest in the speakership is scheduled for Tuesday by Abdulraheem Olawuyi, who represents the Ekiti/Isin/Irepodun/Oke-Ero Federal Constituency in Kwara State.

Olawuyi, according to a statement on Saturday, is expected to officially declare his ambition for the seat on Tuesday in Abuja

Olawuyi, who is Chairman of the House Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness, said he had consulted widely on his intention to contest the position and was delighted at the feedback.

In the statement titled, ‘Rep AbdulRaheem joins race for Speaker, to officially declare April 4’, said he believed that he possessed the needed experience to make the office of the Speaker better if elected by his colleagues.

He said old and new members of the House would be in attendance at the official declaration.

“I assure you that if elected, I will strive to promote policies that will benefit all Nigerians from various backgrounds and will work with all parties to unite the country. I am genuinely looking forward to meeting fellow lawmakers, sharing my vision with them, and listening to their ideas on how to improve the lot of the people if elected as the Speaker,” Olawuyi stated.

The lawmaker representing Mallammadori/Kaugama Federal Constituency in Jigawa State and Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Defence, Abubakar Yalleman, declared his speakership ambition to journalists last week.

The Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase; the embattled Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; the Chairman of the House Committee on Navy, Yusuf Gagdi; Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations, Aliyu Betara; Chairman, House Committee on Science Research Institutes, Olaide Akinremi; Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu; and Chairman, House Committee on Land Transport, Tajudeen Abbas, are also said to be eyeing the seat.

Wase is from Plateau in the North-Central geopolitical zone; Ado-Doguwa hails from Kano, North-West; Gagdi represents Plateau, North-Central; Betara is from Borno, North-East; Akinremi represents Oyo, South-West; Kalu, Abia, South-East; Yalleman, Jigawa, North-West; and Abbas, Kaduna, North-West.

Lawmakers are, however, divided over which geopolitical zones should produce the next set of leaders of the federal parliament.

Already, Wase has begun a nationwide visitation to key stakeholders in the All Progressive Congress as part of efforts to rally support for his ambition.

Senators intensify jostle
In the Senate, two members have openly declared their ambitions to preside over the red chamber. They are the Majority Whip, Senator Orji Kalu; and Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Jibrin Barau.

Former Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio; and Chairman, Committee on Senate Services, Sani Musa, have yet to officially declare for the Senate presidency, but their loyalists within and outside the chamber have been speaking for them.

The incumbent President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, will be returning to the chamber in the next Assembly.

The national leadership of the ruling party had met with the National Assembly members-elect in Abuja on March 6, 2023, where the discussion on zoning was deferred till after the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections held on March 18.

The APC has not met with the lawmakers-elect two weeks after the polls.

Meanwhile, a member of the House from Kano State, Shamsudeen Dambazau, has urged the APC to zone Senate presidency to the North-West, while rooting for Jibrin to occupy the seat.

Dambazau, who represents the Takai/Sumaila Federal Constituency of Kano, in a statement issued on Friday and titled, ‘10th National Assembly: Why APC should consider North-West and why Barau Jibrin should be next Senate President’, listed the gains for the ruling party should the position go to the zone.

The statement read in part, “It is almost time for the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly and Nigerians are eager to know the new leadership of the new Assembly. Aspirants are emerging for the various leadership positions, but we, who are rooting for Senator Barau Jibrin to become the next President of the Senate, believe in his capacity and capability to steer the wheel of the federal parliament towards the path of growth and stability for our dear country, as envisioned by the founding fathers of the ruling All Progressives Congress.

“Jibrin is not only an experienced parliamentarian having been elected for a third term, but also a seasoned administrator, a quality he has shown as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations. It is worthy to note that Jibrin has been in charge of the Federal Government’s budget in the Senate when the 9th National Assembly returned the country’s budget cycle to January-December, which greatly helped the President Mumammadu Buhari administration in achieving its economic goals. Indeed, his loyalty to the APC government and the party is exemplary.”

Dambazau added, “The 10th National Assembly needs a leader like Jibrin, who has garnered knowledge and experience from within and outside Nigeria, going by his academic records and qualifications.

“Jibrin is representing Kano North Senatorial District in Kano State, the biggest state in the North-West geopolitical zone, which has consistently voted for the APC and its candidates, from President Muhammadu Buhari to the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

“While leaders and members of the APC, especially in the National Assembly, are waiting for the ruling party’s direction in terms of zoning of the parliamentary leadership positions, it is our strong belief that it will be strategic for the party to zone the position of Senate President to the North-West. This will help in building on the party’s presence in the zone, especially in Kano and other states where the opposition parties have occupied.”

Zonal, religious configurations
The ruling APC will maintain its majority status in the Senate and the House of Representatives in the 10th Assembly.

While the Senate has 109 members, the House has 360. However, the opposition parties, led by the Peoples Democratic Party, almost halve the number of members in each of the chambers.

The outgoing President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), is from the North-West, while the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, is from the South-West.

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, represents the North-East, while the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, is from the South-South. In the House, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, is from the South-West, while the Deputy Speaker is from the North-Central, with the South-East left out in the top six positions.

Sunday PUNCH had reported last week that aspirants for leadership positions were awaiting the APC’s zoning formula, with lawmakers calling for the allocation of choice seats to their respective zones.


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