Abuja and Owerri — Last-minute horse-trading towards Tuesday's election of House of Representatives speaker may be to the detriment of the major contender, Femi Gbajabiamila, as Arewa Progressive Congress (APC) has thrown its weight behind Mr. Olajide Olatubosun to occupy the seat.
Also, an inter-religious group, Christians and Muslims Peace and Advocacy and Enlightenment Initiative (CAMPAEI), has urged National Assembly members, President Muhammadu Buhari and other stakeholders to ensure the emergence of the speaker from the Southeast.
Arewa Progressive Congress national chairman, Alhaji Ali Abacha, who addressed reporters in Abuja, warned against the election of any aspirant with moral baggage.Though the group declined to mention the names of those with questionable integrity, it insisted that Olatubosun's impeccable records in the private and public sectors, placed him in good stead to occupy the seat.
"Olatubosun, an alumnus of University of Lagos, is a chartered accountant. He is the best from the Southwest. He has no known report of criminality."Nigeria deserves a speaker whose past will not haunt the house in particular and the country in general. We, therefore, endorse his candidature for speakership of the ninth assembly.
"The president has done his best to improve the local and international perception of the country. Such gains must not be dissipated with the enthronement of an individual without integrity as the speaker."Therefore, June 11 is a date with history, as members-elect will perform a historic duty to elect a speaker who will be invested with the authority to steer their affairs for the next four years.
"Expectedly, one of the members elected on the platform of the majority party, All Progressives Congress (APC), is expected to emerge as the speaker. Though the onus of choosing a speaker rests solely on the 360 members-elect; their choice should reflect the wishes of the majority of Nigerians who voted them into power.
"It is with the foregoing that we enjoin members-elect to look at the direction of other aspirants, particularly from the Southwest to which the speakership slot has been zoned by the ruling party."Meanwhile, national president of the inter-religious association, Iwu Maurice Ogbu, told The Guardian at the weekend in Owerri, Imo State, that it would only be equitable if distribution of elective positions at the national level is spread to a representative from the Southeast zone, thereby giving it the opportunity to lead the lower chamber of the National Assembly.
His words: "The ninth house speakership should be zoned to the East. President Muhammadu Buhari should take note of this."We should have a sound young man, possibly Emeka Nwajiuba, to be the speaker. It must not be him. Anybody from the Southeast can be the speaker of the house.
"That is our position, for us to live in peace and harmony in this country."But Gbajabiamila is not leaving anything to chance, as his group has offered 60 chairmen and deputy chairmen seats to members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for their votes.
No fewer than 96 standing committees existed in the lower legislative chamber when Yakubu Dogara was speaker.Director-general of the Gbajabiamila/Ahmed Wase council, Dr. Abdulmumini Jibrin, told reporters in Abuja that the committee slots were offered to a faction of 60 PDP members to support the Gbajabiamila's ticket.
Jibrin, who assured that virtually all the 223 APC members were fully in support of Gbajabiamila, noted that the campaign council was unrelenting, as it was reaching out to the remaining 62 PDP members yet to decide whom to support.Interestingly, no fewer than 183 first-termers at the House of Representatives reportedly endorsed the Gbajabiamila/Wase ticket yesterday.
The group's chairman, Mr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, explained that those behind the initiative were drawn from various political parties.He assured that the group would go into the election as a united front."You will see the kind of result you have never seen before," he added.