10th NASS leadership crisis: N-Central govs kick against zoning, to meet Tinubu, NWC
THE lingering crisis trailing the All Progressives Congress, APC, zoning template for the leadership of the 10th National Assembly deepened, yesterday, as the North-Central Governors’ Forum, and National Assembly members kicked against exclusion of the zone from the sharing of principal officers of the legislature.
They, however, resolved to meet with the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the party’s National Working Committee, NWC to express their grievances.
Also, aggrieved speakership aspirants vowed to take their battle to the plenary, today and some of the aspirants have commenced fresh moves to undermine one another.
In the Senate, core loyalists of President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, it was gathered , have initiated moves to thwart the action of a Senate adhoc committee to probe Senator Godswill Akpabio, who has been endorsed by the APC NWC, and Tinubu as the next Senate President.
The outgoing Senate President, Ahmad Lawan had last week instituted a probe against Akpabio over allegedly questionable unapproved expenditure in the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, while Akpabio supervised the interventionist agency.
N-Central govs kick
Those present at the meeting include Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, Governor Abdulrahaman Abdulrazak of Kwara State, Governor Abdullahi Sule of
Nassarawa State, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, the Governor-elect of Benue State, Rev. Fr Hyacinth Alia; Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr Idris Wase; Senator Mohammed Musa and Mr Yusuf Gagdi.
Speaking after its meeting held at the Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa Abuja, chairman and Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Bello, said: “The meeting reviewed the proposed zoning structure released, and promised to reach out to the President-elect, Bola Tinubu and APC National Working Committee to appeal for re-consideration of the zoning of the Presiding offices of the National Assembly as released by the NWC.
“The meeting discussed the zoning as released and raised reservation with the allocation of the positions of the Deputy Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives of the 10th National Assembly to a particular geopolitical zone of the country.
“That the meeting resolved and agreed to fully utilize all necessary dialogue and consultations to resolving the NASS leadership issue, they all agreed to reach out to all major stakeholders for an amicable and acceptable zoning framework that will be all inclusive.”
Aggrieved aspirants opt to battle zoning at plenary
It was gathered that today’s plenary session might be stormy owing to the preparedness of most members of the House of Representatives to probe the mystery behind the amendment of the House Standing Rules in respect of the election into leadership position, especially the speaker and deputy.
Possible probe of NDDC deals at House of Reps
A source in the lower chamber, disclosed that : “Two major issues are likely to be burning issues, which are the possible probe of the House Committee Chairman on NDDC, Bunmi Tunji-Ojo, who is alleged to be part of the grand deals to impoverish the NDDC and the vexatious issue of unapproved amendments to our Standing Rules.
“We are following them up wherever they go and whatever they do. If the Senators can compromise and cave in to the pressure from Tinubu’s people, that is their problem. We belong to the lower chamber and I especially belong to the opposition. So, I’m not bothered about whatever they do.
“They are doing everything possible to stop the probe because it is a very strong booby trap that can consume Akpabio. They know it and that is why they are trying hard to stop others from aspiring to become the Senate president.
“For the House of Representatives, they know how stubborn we are and they know too that whoever is speaker will unravel all that had transpired in the NDDC especially as their boy, Bunmi Tunji-Ojo is the chairman.
“So, the best thing, in their thinking, is to stop Wase, Betara, Soli, Jaji and Gadgi. They know Abbas, as their puppet, cannot allow such probe. Is that good for the people of the Niger Delta region where I hail from?
“How would they want me to be happy and join them to commit this havoc against my people and expect me to support their candidate who will do their bidding? They all know these issues so they have to work hard but the day of inauguration will show a different House of Representatives.
“All those signatures are political survival moves, we have done it so it doesn’t matter how many they gather because in 2015, we got more than 200 yet Gbaja lost, he scored less than 170.
“And because they know members will be very independent on the day of inauguration, Gbaja and his boys have gone ahead to insert open ballot by shouting the names of our preferred choice for speaker as if we are babies.
“On that one, we shall wait and see what happens tomorrow (today) on the floor of the House. We will check our proceedings and once we confirm any point of perjury and forgery, Nigerians will hear from us.”
N1.4trn NDDC expenditure
Senate President Lawan, had last week, set up a seven-member ad-hoc committee to probe the NDDC for embarking on expenditure amounting to N1.4 trillion without appropriation. The move is seen by many as one to derail Akpabio’s ambition to be Senate president.
The decision to probe activities of the NDDC followed a motion by Senator Adamu Aliero (PDP, Kebbi) during consideration of a report by the Committee on Niger Delta on NDDC’s 2021, 2022 and 2023 budgets.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, earlier this year, asked the Senate to approve NDDC’s budgets for 2021, 2022 and 2023.
Yari ignores APC’s zoning template
Meanwhile, one of the Senate presidency aspirants and Senator- elect for Zamfara West, Abdulaziz Yari, yesterday, said he is in the race in line with the constitution of the country and not the zoning arrangement by any political party.
Fielding questions from journalists at the International Conference Centre, ICC, Abuja at the ongoing Induction Programme for Members- elect organised by the National Assembly and National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, NILDS, Yari noted that his aspiration was not an affront.
His words: “My aspiration for Presidency of the 10th Senate is covered by relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution, which to me, is superior to any other law or arrangement. I am a loyal party man, nobody has told me that any position has been zoned to anywhere as far as the 10th National Assembly is concerned.
“The position of President of the Senate is first among equals among the 109 Senators Any Senator-elect, who wants to occupy the position must seek for support of others which I am doing.”
Masari, Radda, Aliero endorse Abass for Reps’ speaker
Ahead of the inauguration, Mr Tajudeen Abbas, has been endorsed by the outgoing and incoming governors of Katsina State, Mr Aminu Masari and Dr Dikko Radda respectively.
Abass is the APC and Tinubu’s choice for the speakership.
The endorsements came when Abbas led a delegation of members-elect from the Joint Task – 10th Assembly, a coalition of members from the eight political parties that won seats in the 10th Assembly, on separate visits on Masari and Radda.
In a statement the Abbas’ campaign office in Abuja, explained that both Masari and Radda emphasized party supremacy, saying the political party under whose platform a legislator got elected should be respected at all times.
Speaking during the visit, Masari, a former speaker of the House, said: “You said I’m a party man; you’re right. So, I’ll align myself with what the party says. Once the party takes a position, I’ll make sure that I stand with the decision and make it succeed.”
On his part, Dr Radda said: “I am a party man and I believe we should work with what the party said. I called all our members-elect and told them to work with whatever the party decided. This is our project. This visit is just a formality.
“We in the North-West thank the party and the president-elect for ceding the position of Speaker to us. We have done a lot for the party, so we may ask for more. I am happy to see the kind of people with you. This is a pan-Nigerian project.”
In the same vein, a former governor of Kebbi State, Adamu Aliero also backed Abbas.
Aliero said: “When I learned that Tajudeen Abbas was visiting me, I said this is the moment I was waiting for. I had eminent Nigerians waiting for me, but I decided to wait for you.
“I know very well that APC has taken a stand on zoning. I want to congratulate you for getting the APC endorsement. All we’re waiting for is the inauguration day. God willing, you’ll be there. I must commend you on your bi-partisan approach. The best advice anyone can give you is to be fair and just to all the people that give you their support.
I’m best for Speaker —
Another contender for the position of Speaker, Mr Aminu Jaji, said some aspirants have no reason to become the Speaker of the House.
Jaji, in a chat with journalists, reiterated that his executive and legislative experience and exposure in the National Assembly among other qualities, stood him out among those aspiring for the Speakership of the 10th Assembly.
His words: “I have the exposure to pilot the affairs of the House of Representatives. Being a presiding officer goes beyond just lawmaking, there are so many things involved. At times when crisis erupts between the executives the only people that can get it right and fix it is the National Assembly because they are representing 360 constituencies. I have all these in abundance and even more.
“I think I’m the best candidate for Speaker of the House of Representatives for many reasons. For some people, if not by right they don’t have any reason to say they want to become the Speaker because they lack the necessary qualification to be the presiding officer. I have the exposure to pilot the affairs of the House of Representatives. Being a presiding officer goes beyond just lawmaking, there are so many things involved. At times when crisis erupts between the executives the only people that can get it right and fix it is the National Assembly because they are representing 360 constituencies.”
Party supremacy should be upheld — Kalu
On his part, the Deputy Speakership candidate, Mr Benjamin Kalu, yesterday, said that the call to jettison party supremacy for other political interests was illogical.
Kalu spoke while playing host to Coalition of Abia Stakeholders, under the aegis of Advocacy for Good Governance Initiative, who paid him a courtesy visit at the Campaign Secretariat of the Joint Task – 10th Assembly Coalition in Abuja.
He said: “I’m a man who believes that the party’s supremacy should not be jettisoned for our political interest. The party provided the vehicle for us to get to where we are, and their decision should be binding on us. That’s the only way we are going to make our party stronger, that’s the only way we are going to make people respect our party. Because our victories came through them.
“So the tripartite arrangements established by this current government is going to be sustained by the incoming administration where the party will sit with the Executive and the Legislature to come up with policy directions that will help our nation grow.”
Speaking earlier, the Convener of the Coalition, Mr Dike Uche told the Deputy Speakership candidate that they were at the Joint Task Secretariat to pledge their support.