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As life of the current assembly of the House of Representatives (9th) gradually winds down, and preparation already in top gear for the inauguration of the next parliament, JOSHUA EGBODO writes on the number games between various camps in the race for the speakership.



The initial contest for speakership of the 10th House of Representatives, to many, was a seeming open contest, fuelled more by the considered no plan of interference by the All Progressives Congress (APC). But after a good number of members-elect, not less than 10 made their intentions known to run for the speakership, the APC through its National Working Committee (NWC) announced its endorsed candidates.

The move has remained so glaring, a controversial decision that may not end well in the long run. The decision has received rejection, and in some cases, accolades, all depending on which side of a coin the debate position is coming from, as there seemed to be no end in sight to protests occasioned by the APC’s decision at the moment.


For the House of Representatives, the APC endorsed Tajudeen Abass from the North-West as Speaker and Benjamin Kalu from the South-East as Deputy Speaker.

Case against the endorsement


For those directly involved as aspirants seeking speakership of the next House of Representatives, one common point of argument has remained failure of the APC leadership to reach out to them, if a decision has been made to annoint any of the aspirants, as they also faulted how the arrangement failed to address issues of fairness, inclusiveness, equity, justice and belief in a better organised Nigeria.

For those sustaining the protest, zoning may not be anything new in the Nigerian political system, but the manner through which the endorsement was arrived at. References have been made to how the elective positions; the Prresident, Vice -President, Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Deputy Speaker have been successfully zoned with no rancour in the past.


The popular understanding of the Fourth Republic power sharing format, which many kept citing was birthed by the June 12, 1993 general election, which the late business mogul, Chief Moshood Abiola, was believed to have won in a landslide, but was ingloriously annulled by the Ibrahim Babangida military-led junta. In the aftermath, the two  political parties formed for the transition from the military to civilian rule in 1999, reached an agreement that gave room for the presidential candidates from the two major parties to emerge from the South-West geo-political zone. 

However, such understanding that saw to the  success of that transition in the opinion of pundits has been dumped, leaving all to sheer impunity and percuniary interests of party leaders.


While some aspirants, members-elect and critical stakeholders are pushing for zoning according to contributions of each zone to the last elections, others have suggested the adoption of the arrangement of between 1999 and 2007. From 1999, the National Assembly has had eight Senate Presidents. The first five of them were from the South-east region, the next two from the North-central region and the outgoing one from the North-east.

In the House of Representatives under the said political period, the position of Speaker got zoned to the North West with Salisu Buhari, Ghali Umar Na’Abba and Aminu Bello Masari taking their turns. From 2007 to 2011, the South West had it with Patricia Etteh and Dimeji Bankole on the sadfle, though with their challenging issues, while the position went back to the North West between 2011 and 2015, with Aminu Waziri Tambuwal elected as Speaker.


After the 2015 general polls, the North East got the speakership of the House again with Yakubu Dogara on the saddle. By 2019, it returned to the South West again with the current speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila.

A unique 10rh assembly?


A unique feature in the build up to inauguration of the 10th House of Representatives had been pointed the number of aspirants for its speakership, which at the moment remain of not less than eight, after Majority Leader Ado Doguwa and spokesman of the House, Benjamin Kalu announced their formal withdrwal.

It is no longer news that the endorsement put forward by the APC is still facing rejection by aspirants, and even personalities outside the parliament. The aggrieved House Speakership aspirants, operating under a G-7  have at different fora claimed they are all qualified and have something to contribute to nation building.


Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Aloyu Muhtar Betara, a leading member of the group, had while speaking on the development expressed shock over the choice of the APC candidate for House Speaker. He was of the opinion that incumbent  speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, sponsored Tajudeen Abbas who he described as unpopular amongst his colleagues.

According to him, Gbajabiamila despite being a friend nominated Abass outside of ranking lawmakers like himself, Wase, Doguwa, Gagdi and other leading aspirants.


Wase during a visit to national Chairman of the party, Abdullahi Adamu, said he had told Gbajabiamila that he misled the president-elect on the choice of the Speaker and that Tinubu was not behind the choice of Abass. He also accused the party leadership of betraying other contestants, having initially asked them to slow down their campaigns and give room for consultations.

On his part, Gagdi kicked against the zoning arrangement, lamenting that the zoning formula proposed by the APC short-changed his North Central geo-political zone which he said is the only zone with no representation, and so had the protest continued.


The number games

As the agitations lingers, each splinter interest group has been boasting of having the requisite number to spring the needed surprise at the inauguration.


As it is today, the G-7 aspirants say they will be settling for a consensus candidate amongst them, with a promise that that will be made known in no distant time.

So also is the minority caucuses, moving under the “Greater Majority”, boasting of a membership strength of 182, Hon. Yusuf Gagdi, in a statement said the G7 and Greater Minority Groups have reached agreement on consensus candidate for Speaker and Deputy Speaker.


I’m spite of appeals by some APC Governors and party chieftains that the aggrieved aspirants  sheath their swords and respect party supremacy, it appears they are going ahead with their ambition, as they are set to unveil their own consensus candidacy of Abbas and Kalu for speaker and deputy respectively.

A supremacy battle


The minority polical parties operating under the aegis of Greater Majority is made up of 182 members-elect across the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Labour Party (LP); New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP); Africa Democratic Congress (ADC); Young People’s Party (YPP); All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), and the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

Alternately, the G7 are aspirants for the position of the Speaker who are members of  the All Progressives Congress (APC) namely; Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Idris Wase; Chairman of the House Committee on Navy, Hon. Yusuf Adamu Gagdi; Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations, Hon. Muktar Aliyu Betara; Hon. Sada Soli; Hon. Mariam Onuoha and Hon. Aminu Sani Jaji.


The questions thus, is who amongst these aspirants will the group endorse as consensus candidate? How acceptable will such person be to the minority block? Will the move create a deep crack in the Majority APC, to a point of losing grip?

Time will provide the answers, even as the waiting continue for the promised review of the endorsement by the ruling APC.