Who Succeeds Gbajabiamila as Speaker House of Reps? 

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 by Femi Ogunshola

Every system has its life cycle. For the 9th National Assembly, that cycle will end on May 29 as a new administration is inaugurated.

Expectedly, the race for who succeeds Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, as the Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives has begun as ranking members of the lower chamber make open and clandestine moves to win the prized office.

The key main factors that will determine the winner will be the ranking and zoning. While zoning is an internal arrangement by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), ranking is a prerequisite as set up in the House Rules.

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The gender factor cannot be ruled out also. Over the years, male House members have dominated the office with only Patricia Etteh’s short-lived tenure being only time the country had a female Speaker of the House.

Already, support for Hon. Mariam Onuaha (APC Okigwe North) a ranking female Rep member from Imo is gathering momentum not only among her female colleagues but also males who are inclined to gender equity.

Political observers say several blocs are emerging, some of which are the APC governors’ bloc and The Analysts who are said to favour zoning the office of the Speaker to the North West, North Central or North West.

More pressure groups are expected to sprout as days draw nearer. While some blocks say the job should be zoned to the South East others are of the opinion that the race should be thrown open.

So far, apart from Onuoha, other names connect to the Speaker are Reps. Yusuf Gagdi, (APC-Plateau) Tajudeen Abass (APC-Kaduna), Aliyu Betara (APC-Borno) and Abdulraheem Olawuyi (APC-Kwara).

Others are Rep. Ahmed Wase (APC-Plateau), Rep. Benjamin Kalu (APC-Abia) Rep Sanda Soli (APC-Katsina)

While some such as Rep. Abdulraheem Olawuyi, Benjamin Kalu have made an official declaration of the ambition other are said to be making consultations and would soon announce the date for their official declaration.

For instance, Wase, the incumbent Deputy Speaker, has been consulting with governors across the state cutting across political parties while Gagdi also met with some governors in the last few days to seek their support for his ambition.

Meanwhile, Rep. Aliyu Betara, Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation is considered as one legislature that has financial war chest to prosecute his election.

Multiple sources say that he has been able to woo substantial newly-member elected from different political parties.

Betara is from the North-East geo-poltical zone, same zone as the Vice President-elect, Kashim Shettima. This may hurt his ambition though he is believed to bank on the Gbajabiamila scenario.

Although he is from the South West, Lagos as then Vice-President elect, Yemi Osinbajo, he still won the Speakership in 2019.

Rep Jubrin Abdulmumini (NNPP-Kano) a fourth-timer and former Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation is said to back the candidature of Betara and has been rallying opposition to be on same page with him.

Analysts say the opposition which currently has 166 seats as against the APC 162 seats can gain control of the leadership of the house if united. As it stands, the PDP has 105 seats, Labour Party 34, NNPP 18, APGA 4, SDP 2, ADC 2, and YPP 1.

To AbdulRasaq, Olawuyi from Kwara, representing, Ekiti, Irepodun, Isin and Oke-ero Federal Constituency who is also the Chairman, House Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness, says he is the most qualified for the job from the state if zone to the region.

Rep. Abass from Kaduna, though a new entrant into the race is a man to watch, he is said to have the backing of Gov. Malam Nasir El-Rufai.

Abass has sponsored the highest number of bills in the current Assembly with 78 bills.

Sources close to the lawmaker who crave anonymity said that his governor  El-Rufai of Kaduna state is seriously backing his aspiration.

In spite of the permutation, stakeholders contend that the House of Representatives should be led by competent and experienced person.

They further argue that the interest of the nation should supersede any regional or party interests.

One of them is Sen. Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central), who is also the chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.

“Competence and experience are the issues that should be more important as we try to see those who could lead the 10th National Assembly rather than these issues being presented more as tribal, religion or religious rights of individuals or communities in the country.

“As lawmakers begin to tell the world of their individual ambitions or aspirations…you also have a role to play in trying to stabilise and reposition discussions so that the real issues are not lost in pursuit of primordial interests”, , Opeyemi said. (NANFeatures).

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