Battle for NASS: Pressure mounts on Bago, 4 others to step down for Gbajabiamila

•Support group urges Dogara to join race

Less than 48 hours to the inauguration of the National Assembly, five speakership aspirants from the All Progressives Congress (APC), on Saturday, said they would not to step down for Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila who has been endorsed by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.

The aspirants are:  Umaru Mohammed Bago (Niger State);  John Dyegh (Benue State); Olajide Olatubosun (Oyo State); Emeka Nwajiuba (Imo State) and  the only female aspirant, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (Abia State).

Speaking with the Sunday Tribune in separate interviews, the lawmakers cited Section 50(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution which  stipulates that “members of the National Assembly shall elect from among themselves a President of the Senate and a Speaker if the House of Representatives with their deputies, all of whom must have cognate legislative experiences”.

This came just as Northern right group under the aegis of Arewa Progressives stressed that the next speaker must be a transparent character without baggage of corruption hanging on his neck.

But the South-West zone coordinator for the Gbajabiamila speakership project, Honourable Akeem Adeyemi, told Sunday Tribune that Gbajabiamila would emerge the speaker on Tuesday, through “overwhelming votes across party lines” and based on the daily supports for his candidature.

“What is before us now is more than the Tuesday election. We are going for coronation of Speaker Gbajabiamila. He is the only aspirant that has what will take us to the next level. Mind you, he has been around since 2003. You cannot buy experience,” he said.

However, speaking with the Sunday Tribune, the spokesperson of Bago Campaign Organisation, Honourable Afam  Ogene declared that Bago remained the candidate to beat amongst the six aspirants jostling for the position.

“Bago remains the candidate to beat amongst the six aspirants. He is a third-term member who has chaired a very sensitive committee in House without blemish. Above all, he is a man of impeccable character who is generally accepted by his colleagues across the six geo- political zones in the country.”

Also speaking, Honourable John Dyegh from North-Central, told news men in Abuja during an interactive session that he was in the race to win and not for a road show.

The lawmaker, who enumerated his programme for the House if elected the Speaker next week, disclosed that he was confident of being the next speaker based on the supports he had been receiving from members, political leaders and other well Nigerians on daily basis.

He explained that based on this, there was no reason for him to withdraw for any other aspirant.

On his own, another leading contender in the race, Honourable Olajide Olatubosun from the South-West zone where the position had been zoned, declared that he was for free and fair contest and once this was done, he was sure of victory.

Olatubosun, however, vowed to fight any attempt to impose any candidate on the House as the Speaker, with a warning that imposition would be resisted strongly by him.

Also speaking, Hon Nwajiuba from the South-East, said despite the endorsement of Gbajabiamila, he would run the race to the finished line point on the inauguration day.

The lawmaker, who was in the House in 2003, promised to ensure cordial working relationship between the legislature and the executive arms of government and as well ensure strict adherence to the principle of separation of power.

The  only female aspirant in the race, Honourable Onyejeocha, who was the chairman of the chairman of the House Committee on Aviation, said she was not in the race to play game or negotiate for any other position

The Senator said that it would be unjust to deny the South-East the speakership of the House when the North-West and the South-West had produced the president and vice president respectively.

A coalition of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Support Groups in Bauchi State has called on the outgone Speaker Dogara to contest for a second term as.

The group under the aegis of Freedom Amalgamated Youths Organisations (FAYO) at a rally in Bauchi on Saturday said that the leadership of Dogara achieved a lot for the House of Representatives in the last four years.

The chairman of the group, Suleman Shehu said they took the decision in order to ensure Dogara consolidate on his achievements both at the House and his constituency, Dass/Tafawa-Balewa/Bogoro Federal Constituency.