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House speakership: APC picked me based on competence, says Abbas



South-East excited about my adoption for deputy speaker – Kalu

The Joint Task – 10th Assembly, a coalition of members-elect of the All Progressives Congress and opposition parties in the House of Representatives, on Tuesday night, adopted the zoning plan of the ruling party for the leadership of the coming 10th National Assembly.

In attendance, for the first time, was the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; consensus candidates of the APC and leaders of other opposition coalitions and alliances.

The National Working Committee of the APC had on Monday officially announced a former Minority Leader of the Senate and immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, from the South-South, as its consensus candidate for the position of President of the Senate.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Barau Jibrin, from the North-West, would be the new Deputy President of the Senate.

In the House, the seat of Speaker was zoned to the North-West with Tajudeen Abbas as the consensus candidate, while the South-East clinched the slot of Deputy Speaker with Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, emerging the party’s candidate.

Addressing journalists after the closed-door meeting that lasted about two hours, Abbas expressed happiness that the APC chose him to be the next Speaker of the House based on competence.

Abbas said, “I feel elated, I feel inspired because I believe that if the party is going to use competence as its yardstick, I’m the right person to actually be picked. So for the fact that they did what I expected them to do, I feel very elated; I feel very satisfied.”

Responding to a question on other aspirants who are aggrieved with the alleged imposition of candidates by the APC, Abbas disclosed that efforts were being made to pacify them.

For instance, there is now a group of five, made up of the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase; Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado Doguwa; Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Aliyu Betara; Chairman of the House Committee on Water Resources, Sada Soli; and a former member of the House who is now member-elect, Sani Jaji, who have vowed to oppose the APC candidates.

Aspirants for the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the coming 10th National Assembly, who are aggrieved with the zoning plan of the APC are grouping against the adopted candidates, The PUNCH can authoritatively report.

Top contenders for the Speaker’s seat, some of whom are in the current leadership of the 9th House, opposed the move by the APC to announce consensus candidates without due consultation with stakeholders in the chamber.

There is also unrest within and outside the House over the decision by the APC to allocate two of the four presiding positions in the 10th National Assembly to the North-West and none to the North-Central.

Abbas said, “We are in the process (of reconciling with aggrieved aspirants). We have reached out to so many (of them), and we will continue reaching out to all of them. Before the end of next week, I assure you – all the candidates and all the contestants – we will beg them. We will ask them to come on board so that we can work for the good of the institution.”

When asked about the plans he had for the 10th House, he said, “Please, I will ask you to wait a little. By next week, we are going to do our official declaration. So, we will come out with our 16-point agenda. With that agenda, you will see all the areas we are going to work on in the 10th Assembly.

“I welcome you. I invite you to the declaration which will take place next week. We will give you the date. Then, you will know what we have for the members, what we have for this country.”

Similarly, Kalu said he felt good and “highly delighted that my party considered me to go for this position.”

On the implication of having him as Deputy Speaker, Kalu said, “The party has started the strategy for the 2027 elections by making sure that they have a foot in the south-eastern region. What they have done with this nomination is in the spirit of inclusion.

“The South-East is going to feel the power of cohesion and national loyalty. It is going to be driven by virtue of this that has taken place. It was a wise decision to include the south-easterners in the structure of the government that is being formed.”

The House spokesman noted that it is the responsibility of a ruling party to set up the architecture of the government in order to achieve the set national objectives. “And I’m sure, by making sure that everybody embraces that national objective, it will help them achieve it faster,” he added.

According to him, the architecture that is being displayed by the APC “is an all-inclusive architecture and my people in the South-East are delighted that they have been considered.”

Kalu stressed that it will “change the dynamics come 2027, because an energetic young man who believes in the party, in the supremacy of the party and loyalty to the party, has been called up to stand on the platform to energise the zone for progress, unity and prosperity of the nation. And that I pledge we will do.”

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