Why The Odds Favour Abbas-Kalu

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Hon. Akintunde Rotimi, Jr.

The majority of attendees at the recent engagement President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had
with senators-elect and members-elect of the 10th National Assembly during the week,


agree that it was a game-changer in many ways.
As one honourable member-elect remarked, “Finally, Nigeria has a leader”. President
Tinubu was at his finest, speaking extempore yet holding his audience comprising a large
majority of the incoming federal lawmakers from across partisan divides, fully engaged.
His passion and preparedness to lead Nigeria to her full potential were as tangible as it


was convincing, as he pleaded with everyone to see the big picture and abide by the
recommendations of the ruling party concerning the 10th Assembly leadership, to ensure
the new dispensation got off to a solid start.
The National Assembly leadership race has dominated headlines in recent times and is
seen by many analysts and observers as a litmus test for how rancour-free the legislature
would be, especially in the Federal House of Representatives. This is against the
backdrop that this is the most diverse assembly we would be having since the dawn of the
4th republic, with members drawn from an unprecedented eight political parties: All
Progressives Congress [APC], Peoples Democratic Party [PDP], Labour Party [LP], All
Progressives Grand Alliance [APGA], Young Progressives Party [YPP], New Nigerian

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People’s Party [NNPP], African Democratic Congress [ADC] and Social Democratic
Party [SDP].
Some of these parties are winning seats for the first time since the country returned to
democracy in 1999. The APC has 175 seats, while the opposition parties collectively
share 182 seats. The PDP holds 116, Labour Party (LP) has 35, and NNPP controls 19
seats. The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has five seats, while the African
Democratic Congress (ADC), Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the Young
Progressives Party (YPP) have two each. Three federal constituency seats are outstanding
because of a court order.
With over 280 new members-elect out of the total 360 seats and about 50 members below
the age of 40, the 10th Assembly of the Federal House of Representatives symbolizes
Nigeria’s diversity and a new energy that is eager to deliver change that Nigerians
eagerly desire. That is why the leadership of the green chamber is delicate and intricately
linked to our prospects to get it right as a country this time.
As President Tinubu explained, the choice of house leadership took into consideration the
need for equity and fairness in the sharing of sensitive positions, as well as the
competence, character, and capacity of the aspirants. It is thus understandable why the

party leadership arrived at the recommendations of Dr. Tajudeen Abbas [APC – Kaduna]
and Hon. Benjamin Kalu [APC – Imo], for Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively.
Without impugning on the other aspirants who are all also eminently qualified, the duo of
Abbas/Kalu embody the type of leaders the house needs to work harmoniously with other
arms of government while ensuring vital independence in keeping with the tenets of
separation of powers.
To meet Abbas/Kalu is to love them. With no airs around them, their humility is deeply
endearing, as they are accessible and make concerted efforts to forge personal
relationships with colleagues – ranking and new alike. This accounts for why they have
been well received by a majority of the members-elect, with a wave of endorsements by
different caucuses and various stakeholder groups from across the board. To add weight
to the general acceptance of the house leadership hopefuls, the Joint Task Force – 10th
Assembly, a multi-partisan forum for members-elect of the 10th House of
Representatives, has endorsed the candidates and been very central to the contacts and
mobilization efforts.
Dr. Tajudeen Abbas is one of the most analytical, independent, incorruptible and vibrant
legislators in the National Assembly. He was first elected a Member of the House in 2011
to represent Zaria Federal Constituency in Kaduna State under the Congress for
Progressive Change [CPC] before the now defunct political party’s merger with other
political parties to form the All Progressives Congress [APC]. Politically, Dr. Abbas has
distinguished himself as a grassroots mobilizer, pro-masses, astute advocate, and silent
achiever. Despite the money-bag politics and rigging machinery of previous electoral
cycles, he won his first legislative seat under a relatively unknown small party, the CPC.
In the 9th Assembly, he holds the record of the single member with the highest number of
bills in the House. Out of seventy-four bills, twenty-one were signed into law by the
outgone President Mohammadu Buhari. His vibrancy, humility, ability to relate with
members outside his party enclave, and ability to achieve results within a short time make
him the most popular among other contestants. Dr Abbas’s pedigree as an all-embracing
and good governance activist makes him a candidate that can represent various interests,
especially at a time when the nation is most divided based on ethnicity and religion.
Dr. Abbas has not only distinguished himself as a politician but also as an educationist.
He had a successful career at the Nigerian Tobacco Distribution Company, which later
transformed into the British-American Tobacco Company. His love to impart knowledge
and increase levels of education around the country saw him move from a small primary
school class teacher to a polytechnic and university lecturer. Between 1989 and 1993, he
became the first head of the Department of Accounting and Finance at Nuhu Bamalli
Polytechnic, Zaria. He became the first head of the Department of Business
Administration at the same polytechnic in 2001 before moving to Kaduna State
University [KASU] in 2005, where he founded the Department of Accounting and
became its first head.
Hon. Benjamin Kalu, in the same vein, represents Bende Federal Constituency. He was
elected a member in 2019 under the platform of the All Progressives Congress [APC] and

appointed the Chairman of the Committee on Media and Public Affairs, a job which he
discharged seamlessly. Within three and a half years, he has achieved so much as a
tenderfoot legislator. He has sponsored forty bills surpassing some of the ranking
legislators in the House. His bill to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria, 1999, to replace ‘prisons’ from the Exclusive Legislative List with ‘Correctional
Services’ was assented to by the outgone President Mohammadu Buhari. A lawyer
extraordinaire, he has proven to be focused, result-oriented and competent in legislative
duties.
Party endorsement aside, Dr. Abbas and Hon. Kalu have proven to be no rabble-rousers,
mediocre, or novices in the business of legislation. They are steadfast and committed to
delivering good governance through the legislative process with outstanding credentials
and records that attest to that. In addition to ensuring the stability of the APC-led Federal
Government, the Tajudeen-Kalu-led Federal House of Representatives will be able to
work with various interest groups within and outside the ruling APC to perform their
constitutional legislative duties and bring about the governance that Nigerians earnestly
yearn for.
The icing on the cake to the process of their emergence is that they are very likely to
emerge unopposed because from all indications most of the aspirants, including Rt. Hon.
Ahmed Idris Wase, Hon. Muktar Aliyu Betara, Hon. Yusuf Gagdi, Hon. Sada Soli, Hon.
Aminu Sani Jaji, and Hon. Mariam Onuoha, as patriots invested in the stability and unity
of the house, and in deference to their long standing relationships with President Tinubu,
would be stepping down their ambitions to support Abbas/Kalu. I commend them for this
gesture and trust that their sacrifices would not be in vain. They are all also winners, and
posterity would be kind to them.
Before now, pundits had predicted that the emergence of leadership in the green chamber
would be stormier than the red chamber, but with a combination of the endorsement of
the ruling party on one hand, and their character, competence, and capacity, on the other,
Hon. Dr. Tajudeen Abbas and Hon. Benjamin Kalu are set to emerge seamlessly as the
Speaker and Deputy Speaker, respectively, of the 10th Assembly, Federal House of
Representatives on June 13, 2023.
Nigerians now look to the Senate.
Hon. Akintunde Rotimi, Jr. is a Member-Elect, of the Federal House of
Representatives, (Ekiti North 1, Ikole/Oye)

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