The Majority Leader of the House Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has intensified his campaign for the speakership of the ninth National Assembly.
A member of Gbajabiamila’s camp in the House told The Punch that the plot by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to cause conflicts in the APC caucus had been uncovered, leading to a counter-move by the speakership aspirant.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the game plan, disclosed that part of the tactics by the minority group was to sponsor various aspirants in the majority APC caucus to deplete the votes of Gbajabiamila at the speakership election.
No fewer than 170 lawmakers, including four co-aspirants and many PDP and opposition members, had attended Gbajabiamila’s official declaration ceremony, where they pledged their support for his emergence as speaker.
Explaining the counter-plot, the source said, “Go and watch all those who are campaigning against Gbajabiamila, they are those who voted for Dogara in 2015 and they still belong to that camp. And they held a meeting where it was planned that all of them should crowd the race; that they should run, spend money, do everything and not step down; so that at the end of the day, they will split the APC votes and nominate a candidate favourable to the PDP.
“But not all the APC members will work for Gbajabiamila and not all the PDP lawmakers will work against him. Gbajabiamila is also poaching members of the opposition and he seems to be the aspirant with the biggest offer and most massive moves for now. This is because he seems to have a clear picture of where he is going, unlike other aspirants who are still waiting for the party’s zoning formula. And this is also because the deputy speakership will go to either the North-Central or the North-East.”
Already, 16 lawmakers had declared an interest in the speakership and one eyeing the deputy speaker seat. However, four aspirants had stepped down for Gbajabiamila. They are now lobbying for positions of deputy speaker and the majority leader.
The source disclosed that three of the four aspirants who stepped down for Gbajabiamila were considering succeeding him as the Majority Leader. They are Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, Kawu Sumaila and Mohammed Monguno.
Last week, a source in the camp of the Deputy Majority Leader and speakership aspirant, Mr Idris Wase (Plateau, North-Central), disclosed that some officials in the Presidency, governors and leaders of the APC had intervened in the struggle for the leadership of the 9th National Assembly.
The source said, “The position is that the speakership and deputy speakership positions are going to be zoned to the South-West and North-Central. That has been finalised. Femi and Wase are going to work together and form a pact so that whatever is decided, both of them will agree.”
But a speakership aspirant from Niger State, Mr Umar Bago, in an interview with Punch, said the zone would not accept a deputy speakership offer.
Asked if he would accept the offer as proposed at the meeting between governors and Wase at the Presidential Villa, Bago said, “No.”
He added, “If we have contributed like we have contributed to get the APC to where it is today – to secure a second term in government – that means we are not renegades in this arrangement. The reason is not far-fetched; we gave more votes than the South-West that has the Vice-President (Yemi Osinbajo) already. What is the rationale behind taking away what is due to our people? It is not about me, it is about my zone.
“We are not compromising; I personally will not compromise for deputy speakership. I am saying, ‘give to the North-Central what is due to the North-Central.’ The only compromise is if the party zones it to the South-East or South-South; then, I will play along, but not to the South-West.”