NASS Leadership: Support for Lawan, Gbajabiamila Swells
Support for Senator Ahmed Lawan and House of Representatives member Femi Gbajabiamila swelled yesterday ahead of tomorrow’s proclamation of the Eighth National Assembly.
Lawan is the All Progressives Congress (APC) consensus candidate for Senate President. Gbajabiamila is speaker nominee.
A group of prominent Northern Elders,Youths and civil society, under the umbrella of Concerned Northern Elders and Youths yesterday in a statement signed by its interim co-ordinator and secretary, Mohammed Idris and Mr. Joshua Inusa, cautioned against compromising credibility in the choice of National Assembly leadership.
The group also urged the lawmakers to key into President Muhammadu Buhari’s zero tolerance for corruption by voting a credible senator like Lawan for president.
“With President Buhari’s statement that he would only work with and support people of unquestionable character, it is imperative for the incoming legislators to assist the President in ensuring that only a man of integrity whose past was not in any way characterised by either allegation of corruption, impunity or any other unwanted behaviour becomes President of the Senate.
“To this end, after careful review and consultation with elders, youths and a number of civil society groups in the North, we hereby resolve to endorse Senator Ahmed Lawan.”
The group also called on the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) not to compromise on Buhari’s stance against corruption by ensuring that their members tow the same line in choosing a man of impeccable character like Ahmed Lawan as President of the Senate.
The campaign group for the Femi Gbajabiamila’s aspiration yesterday hailed his election in a shadow poll and applauded the overwhelming support he got across party lines.
Dickson Tarkghir (APC-Benue), who spoke on behalf of the group, said they were confident of getting a sizeable number of votes from other political parties members-elect.
He debunked the assertion by the Yakubu Dogara camp that they were not adequately informed of the mock election, saying the fact that they commented on the exercise in an advertorial before the date shows they were adequately informed of the mock election.
“Definitely, they could not have made comments on an exercise they are not aware of.
It is unfortunate that some members sought for intervention of the party before their election into the national assembly but suddenly realised that the unbiased intervention of the party in the mock election is inappropriate. Definitely these are not agents of change.
“The Party gave members-elect the platform to elect a popular candidate that would represent the party in the House and we are glad that in the end of that exercise, it was res ipsa loquitur. Had Hon. Dogara won the mock election we would have all queued behind him now but as a mark of discipline and respect for the party we are all behind Hon. Gbajabiamila.”
He said the Gbajabiamila camp had reached out to friends in other political parties “and we are thankful by their popular response. We also agree that the next speaker of the eighth House of Representatives would emerge on the floor of the House on Tuesday and definitely members across party lines would place merit first because this is the era of change we have been waiting for. We shall meet on Tuesday.”
Ali Madaki (APC-Kano) noted that three of Dogara’s supporters participated in the mock election and did not walk out as claimed by Dogara’s supporters.
On Gbajabiamila’s dual citizenship, he explained that the Nigerian Constitution supports dual citizenship and that there was a Supreme Court ruling on the same issue.
Also yesterday the caucuses of the Northeast and Northwest in the House of Representatives identified the Gbajabiamila’s candidacy as most suitable for the position of Speaker.
Ninety five per cent of the 126 returning and new members have reiterated their support for Gbajabiamila, who triumphed in the straw election conducted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the weekend.
The two cuscuses also described the legal action against the candidacy of Gbajabiamila as a sign of desperation on the part of a contender that believed the era of business as usual is not over yet.
The caucuses’ position was predicated on merit, fairness, quality leadership and reward for commitment to the cause of APC, it was learnt.
According to a chieftain of the APC and member-elect from Jigawa State (Northwest), Sani Zoro, it would be an act of injustice and politically incorrect to shove aside the contributions of Gbajabiamila to the sustenance of the independence of the House and deepening of democracy in the country at large.
Zoro said the position of the group has the blessing of former and new governors and party leaders from the two zones.
He said Mohammad Monguno and Alhassan Doguwa were equally endorsed as Deputy Speaker and House Majority Leader.
He said: “I make bold to say that except something untoward happens, it is the ticket of Gbajabiamila/Monguno that will triumph.
“Fairness dictates that we look at the contributions of the two top contenders and make informed decision on the best candidate for the leadership of the House.
“Gbajabiamila led the opposition creditably for eight years during which he saw to the expansion of the party in the House to the extent that the minority party became the majority, even before the General election.
“He provided quality and opposition which every Nigerian can attest to, in addition to marshaling the APC caucus creditably through the eight years. In an era where almost all opposition were defecting to the ruling party, Gbajabiamila never faltered.
“Secondly, let us look at the contribution of the two to the victory of the party in he last election. In Bauchi, it was only Dogara that won while others lost, even in the Senate.
“On the other hand, Gbajabiamila delivered en bloc his constituency on all fronts and zone to the party, needless to say that the Southwest contributed the third largest bloc vote to APC.
“The APC presidential candidate scored the lowest, about 3,000 votes in Dogara’s constituency while PDP scored highest with over 11,000 votes. APC governorship candidate also lost in that territory, including two Assembly seats and the Senate,
“Dogara is the only one that won in his territory.
“The implication of this is why would the party reward an environment that is hostile to the party, while we have an option of a friendly region? It is only logical that the one that performed best should be rewarded.
“The workability of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act is a major project of Gbajabiamila/Monguno team that would be vigorously worked on because we believe that it is in sync with the principle and projections of Mr President’s determination to fight corruption”.
He also noted that the legal actions against Gbajabiamila would amount to nothing, saying, “As for the legal action, we see them as mercenaries used by other contenders to drag Nigeria backward from the gains of the revolutionary election that we had because so many barriers were raised to truncate it.
“It is a cowardly act, it is our opinion that if they are sure of their capability, why not engage Gbajabiamila on issues rather than mudslinging. The issues they are raising have been adequately dealt with, even on the floor of the House.
“This is one unfortunate incidence that will boomerang on them, they did it to President Buhari and we all knew how Nigerians reacted”.
Alhassan Doguwa, a returning member from Kano, who is also on the same ticket as Majority Leader, said it was expedient that the sacrifices Gbajabiamila made over the years in entrenching a progressive 7th House be rewarded.
According to him, in entrenching a progressive seventh House, Gbajabiamila turned down deputy speakership just to provide quality leadership for the opposition.
“Our stand is to have an independent and quality House that can deliver to Nigerians dividends of democracy. We will not compromise merit on the basis that VP is from the Southwest.
“For us in the Northwest and Northeast, it is payback time for the good Femi Gbajabiamila did for our region in the 7th Assembly. He merits it from whatever point of view we are looking at it from.
“We are speaking from position of knowledge and authority, Gbajabiamila will become the Speaker of the eighth Assembly,” Doguwa added.