THE battle for who succeeds Hon. Aminu Tambuwal as Speaker of House of Representatives for the 8th National Assembly in June is here as with four ranking legislators in serious tussle for the number four position in Nigeria.
The lawmakers are a three-time returnee and former Chairman, House Committee on Customs, Hon. Yakubu Dogara;
incumbent Minority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila; the current Deputy House Leader, Leo Ogor and Chairman House Committee on Finance, Hon. Abdulmumini Jibrin.
While Dogara (Bauchi State) and Gbajabiamila (Lagos State) are members of the All Progressives Congress, Ogor (Delta State) is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Gbajabiamila, a four-time returnee lawmaker, was the Deputy House Minority Leader till the end of the 2007-2011 term. He emerged as Minority Leader in 2011 and arrogated to himself the office of the Majority Leader after the APC claimed they have more members in the Lower Chamber. The controversy over who controls the House has been a subject of litigation since the defection of some PDP lawmakers.
A lawyer, Gbajabiamila is highly respected by his colleagues for his ‘oratory and erudite approach’ to debates in the House, which gave the opposition a strong presence in the out-going session.
Dogara, also a lawyer, is reputed to be the ‘inside research hand and intellect,’ who assisted many House Committees to successfully conclude major assignments referred to them since 2007.
Hon. Ogor, though the Deputy House Leader, functioned more as the Majority Leader, helping to direct the course of debates for the PDP, whose sitting Leader in the House is Mulikat Akande-Adeola.
The only aspirant who has formally declared interest in Tambuwal’s office is Hon. Abdulmumuni Jibrin. One of the Reps from Kano state and close friend of Tambuwal, he has promised to take the House to a global pedestal, if elected Speaker. He also anchors his aspiration on a three- point agenda which are transparency, strengthening of institutions of the House and continuity in Legislative business.
ENCOMIUM Weekly also gathered that the other three lawmakers (Ogor, Gbajabiamila and Dogara) have initiated contacts with many members and have set up campaign groups to actualise their ambition.
We further learnt that Gbajabiamila was originally considered to step into the position of the Majority Leader naturally, with the APC assuming full majority control of the House with over 200 members, after the March 28 polls. However, he was said to have been pressured to vie for the Speakership after it became apparent that the North would have the President (North-West) and the Senate President (North-Central or North-East).
A close source said, Gbajabiamila is the best material from the South-West in terms of legislative experience and House leadership at the moment.
“The South-West has the Vice-President, but since the South-South and South-East have shut themselves out in a way, it becomes necessary for the South-West to take up the Speakership.
“The North has President and they will also take the Senate President. So, it would negate the spirit of Federal Character for the North to produce President, Senate President and also Speaker?”
Dogara’s supporters, however, want him to occupy the number four seat because the “North-East has suffered marginalization” since 2011.
One of his confidants in the House reportedly said he sacrificed his ambition to be Deputy Speaker in 2011 with Hon. Emeka Ihedioha (South-East) assuming the seat.
“Now, it is his turn to be Speaker. The North-East didn’t get key elective political posts since 2011. So, if the zone produces the Speaker and even the Senate President, we are just balancing up the equation.
“In any case, the Senate President is most likely going to be a North-Central position.”
Ogor, though a member of the PDP, was already allegedly reminding his re-elected colleagues that the Speakership is not a party position.
“The position of Speaker is about who has the knowledge of the job; not about a particular political party.
“It is not even a matter for zoning, which is not recognised by our laws. This is going to be an almost new House, which will require the administrative skills of someone like Ogor to manage without rancour.”
Ogor’s backers made reference to 2011 when Tambuwal emerged as the speaker in defiance of the PDP, which had zoned the position to the South-West. They argued that the House backed Tambuwal not necessarily because he was from the majority party, but because of his “experience, quality, leadership abilities and good rapport.”
“These same factors were the reasons the House still stood behind Tambuwal even after he defected to the APC in October 2014,” added another Ogor campaigner.
Another source also confirmed that four lawmakers jostling for Tambuwal’s seat, so far, are Chairman House Committee on Services and Welfare, Yakubu Dogara (Bauchi), the Minority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila (from Lagos), Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture, Mohammed Monguno (Borno), and Deputy Chairman of the Constituency Outreach Committee, Pally Iriase (Edo).
Gbajabiamila and Dogara were initially those that indicated interest in becoming Speaker, but it has now emerged that Monguno, Iriase and Jibrin equally want to succeed Tambuwal who is now the Governor-elect of Sokoto State.
The source also recognized the fact that in cognate experience, Monguno and Dogara have been in the House since 2007, while Iriase came in 2011 for his first term. Interestingly Gbajabiamila has been in the Green Chamber since 2003!
While it was gathered that Dogara, Gbajabiamila and Jubrin had since commenced serious consultations and reaching out to their colleagues, Monguno and Iriase are just beginning to campaign, while waiting for their party to make its zoning arrangement clear. The APC zoning arrangement for legislative offices has largely remained unpredictable at the moment.
– UCHE OLEHI