• Wase, Betera, other aggrieved aspirants set to adopt candidate

    Wase betera other aggrieved aspirants set to adopt candidate - nigeria newspapers online
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    The G-7 group of aspirants for the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who are aggrieved with the 10th National Assembly leadership zoning plan of the All Progressives Congress, has scheduled a meeting with members-elect today (Saturday).

    The meeting is to hold in Abuja at 7pm, while the 10th Assembly is billed for inauguration on Tuesday. It is expected that a candidate for the speakership will be adopted at the meeting.

    Strong indications emerged on Friday that at least a member of the G-7 would contest against the choice candidate of the APC for Speaker, Tajudeen Abbas.

    The G-7 includes the incumbent Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase; Chairman, House Committee on Navy, Yusuf Gagdi; Chairman,  House Committee on Appropriations, Aliyu Betara; Chairman, House Committee on Water Resources, Sada Soli; Chinedu Ogah, Miriam Onuoha and Sani Jaji.

    Despite his interventions, aspirants are capitalising on the fact that President Bola Tinubu, during his meetings with leadership aspirants and members-elect, did not ask for support for Abbas and the anointed candidate for the Deputy Speaker, Benjamin Kalu.

    According to sources in the G-7, Tinubu only asked members-elect to work with the zoning plan of the APC, clearing the way for aspirants for a position allocated to a particular zone to contest against themselves.

    While Abbas is from Kaduna State in the North-West, members of the G-7, who are from the same geopolitical zone with him, are Jaji from Zamfara State and Soli from Katsina State.

    Meanwhile, the Labour Party is billed to announce its adopted candidate for the position of Speaker any moment from now.

    The Governor of Abia State, Alex Otti, on Thursday, met members-elect of the National Assembly on the platform of the LP over the aspirants to adopt as candidates of the opposition party.

    Otti, in his brief comment at the meeting, said he chose to meet with the lawmakers-elect after meeting with the President.

    The National Chairman of the LP, Julius Abure, who led the members of the National Working Committee to the meeting, said the leadership of the party would take a decision on the choice of candidates by Friday or Saturday.

    “Where we are right now is that the National Assembly is on the verge of being inaugurated and leaders are expected to emerge both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives. It will appear as if some of our members are divided along some political lines. And so, we have had a series of these engagements. The last one was on Monday where we resolved unanimously that we are going to make the decision on Friday, which is tomorrow, or Saturday,” he said.

    The NWC of the APC had on May 8, 2023, released the zoning formula for the leadership of the 10th National Assembly, picking Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom/South-South) as President of the Senate; Jibrin Barau (Kano/North-West), Deputy President of the Senate; Tajudeen Abbas (Kaduna/North-West), Speaker; and Benjamin Kalu (Abia/South-East), Deputy Speaker.

     Several aspirants for leadership positions in the Senate and the House have, however, kicked against the APC leadership zoning plan, vowing to go ahead and contest against the party’s choice candidates.

     The APC candidates and their aggrieved opponents are banking on the votes of the newly-elected members, who are far more than the returning members, and members-elect in the opposition parties, who collectively have more number than the ruling party.

    Meanwhile, House of Representatives members-elect from the South-West geopolitical zone on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party have demanded the position of Minority Leader.

    After a meeting in Abuja on Friday, the South-West PDP caucus resolved to seek the intervention of the national leadership of the opposition party in the sharing of leadership seats in the minority caucus.

    It was gathered that apart from writing to the NWC through the acting National Chairman of the PDP, Umar Damagum, the South-West members-elect also wrote to the PDP Governors’ Forum through its Chairman and Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed; presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar; and the two PDP governors from the region, Seyi Makinde of Oyo State and Ademola Adeleke of Osun State.

    The letter addressed to Damagum and dated June 9, 2023, a copy of which was made available to our correspondent, was titled, ‘Appeal for your intervention on the zoning of the position of Minority Leader in the 10th Assembly of House of Representatives’.

    The members-elect wrote, “We, the undersigned, being elected members of the House of Representatives from the South-West zone of the Federal Republic of Nigeria wish to respectfully invite Your Excellency to intervene in the issue of the zoning of the Minority Leader in the 10th Assembly, which is due for inauguration on Tuesday, June 13, 2023.

    “Your Excellency will note that the position of the Minority Leader in the 8th and 9th Assemblies of the House of Representatives was occupied by the Rt. Hon. Leo Ogor and Rt. Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, respectively, who were both from the South-South zone of the country. This is a cumulative period of eight successive years.

    “We wish to also draw your attention to an agreement among members-elect of the minority caucus of the House of Representatives that the position of the Minority Leader should be ceded to the southern part of the country for the next Assembly. It is, therefore, our considered view that in the interest of fairness, equity and justice, the South-West should be duly considered to fill this position of Minority Leader in the 10th Assembly of the House of Representatives. Apart from fulfilling the core values of inclusiveness and justice, which our party is noted for, this will also greatly boost the morale of our party members and help in the strengthening of our party in the zone and the country at large.

    “We assure Your Excellency and the entire leadership of our continuous loyalty and commitment to the growth, stability and progress of the Peoples Democratic Party. We thank you most sincerely for your support and pray that the Almighty God continues to guide you in the discharge of your responsibilities. Please, see the attached list of signatories to this very important request.”

    The letter has the signature of all the 15 PDP members-elect from Oyo, Osun and Ondo states.

    Meanwhile, family members, friends, aides and well-wishers of members-elect of the National Assembly will be barred from the ad hoc chambers prepared for their inauguration, Saturday PUNCH reports.

    The ceremonies will be held at the Conference Room 022 at the Senate, and Conference Rooms 028 and 231 for members of the House of Representatives.

    This is due to the ongoing renovation of the National Assembly Complex, which is billed for completion in August.

    While the members-elect, workers directly involved in the ceremony and a few journalists will be allowed into the chambers, others are to monitor the events at the Arcade Ground outside the National Assembly Complex.

    Already, the management of the National Assembly, the bureaucratic arm of the federal parliament, has told members-elect to come along with only one person for the ceremonies, unlike in 2019 when members were accompanied by their wives and children as well as extended family members, friends, aides and party faithful.

    Several invitations cited by our correspondent showed that members-elect had invited guests to various venues outside the National Assembly to celebrate their swearing-in.

    One of the highlights of the inauguration of the 9th Assembly was when the outgoing Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, stormed the House with his four wives. As the Kano lawmaker introduced his wives amidst claps and cheers from the audience, the lawmaker also disclosed that he had 27 children “and still counting.”

    A member of the directorate of the National Assembly, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, noted that while it would be easier to manage the population at the Senate, it would not be the same at the House.

    The House has 360 members, while the Senate has 109. This is despite the fact that the House uses two conference rooms for sitting, with the second connected to the first electronically with multi-media facilities.

    “Only those attached to media organisations that will broadcast the event live will be allowed into the chamber. Others will have to observe the proceedings at the press centres. Guests will remain outside at the Arcade Ground. After the ceremonies, members can join them outside,” the official said.

    Construction of a tent began at the Arcade Ground on Wednesday, while workers had been busy with the painting of strategic points in and around the premises for over one week.

    Meanwhile, the Clerk to the National Assembly, Sani Tambawal, on Thursday noted in a statement that senators and House of Representatives members-elect were to visit the Senate Conference Room 231 and the House Conference Room 301, respectively, with copies of their Code of Conduct Bureau clearance, certificates of return and valid identity cards for registration on Monday at 10am.

    “Due to the ongoing renovation of the two chambers, senators-elect and honourable members-elect are to come along with only one guest for the ceremony, who will be seated at the Arcade,” the statement partly read.

    The Senate and the House sitting in conference rooms has been reconfigured into chambers for plenary sessions about a year ago.

    Contract for the rehabilitation of the National Assembly Complex was awarded by the Federal Capital Territory Administration in April 2022 and the project is being executed by Visible Construction Limited.

    The Federal Government had planned to renovate the building with N37bn in the first version of the 2020 Appropriation Act, a proposal that generated wide condemnation.

    The cost was later slashed to N9bn when the budget was reviewed due to economic considerations.

    The National Vice Chairman of the APC for the North-West, Mallam Salihu Lukman, has again called out the leadership of the party for failing to properly engage President Bola Tinubu before the zoning template for the leadership of the National Assembly was done.

    Lukman, who admitted that the complaints made by party leaders and members from the North-Central about their exclusion were legitimate, expressed disappointment that the National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, led his delegation to consult with the President empty handed.

    His concerns come barely four days to the election of the leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives scheduled for Tuesday, June 13.

    Following the backlash and protests from other aspirants and members from the North-Central, the ruling party played down its decision, saying the list of adopted candidates was “not cast in stone.”

    But the former director-general of the Progressive Governors’ Forum lamented that the arrangement was not thoroughly put in place in tandem with the party’s constitution.

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