Battle for Speakership hots up
Okadigbo caucus rallies support for Nwajiuba; Contestants step up campaign
Associates of a former President of the Senate, late Senator Chuba Okadigbo are rallying support for Honourable Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba for the post of Speaker in the ninth National Assembly, amid intense lobbying and apprehension in the camps of more than 15 contenders for the position.
Similarly, leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in South-East zone, under the coalition Presidential Support Committee (PSC) and South East Equity Alliance, while endorsing Nwajiuba as their preferred choice, are insisting that the leadership of the ruling APC concede the position to the zone.
Besides, both the Northern Youth Council and Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) are backing his candidacy based on “need for equity and justice and fairness, coupled with his experience.”
The South-East Equity Alliance, headed by a former commissioner in Imo State, Dr Orikeze Ajumbe and the Chuba Okadigbo Rainbow Organisation, led by Dr. James Okoroma on Wednesday pushed for the emergence of Hon. Nwajiuba as the next Speaker to in the interest of geopolitical balance in the political hierarchy of the country.
Nwajiuba, the House of Representatives between 1999 and 2003, representing Okigwe South Federal Constituency of Imo State, was the chairman of the House Committee on Land and Housing.
He also contested the Imo governorship seat in 2003, 2007 and 2011 on the ticket of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), as well as served as secretary of the Constitution Drafting Committee that led to the formation of the ruling APC.
The national chairman of the Chuba Okadigbo Rainbow Organisation, Dr James Okoroma confirmed to Tribune Online on Wednesday that well-meaning politicians and individuals, who were leading the intense lobbying for the candidacy of Nwajiuba had reached out to major stakeholders across the six geopolitical zones in the country.
According to him, they are collaborating to convince the other stakeholders in the contest on the imperative of having Nwajiuba as Speaker so as to ensure balance in the power equation of the country.
Okoroma emphasised that Nwajiuba’s election as Speaker would give the South-East a sense of belonging in the country, as other geopolitical zones were already strategically represented in the power equation in the unfolding political dispensation.
He said that any arrangement in the National Assembly that excluded the geopolitical zone would generate feelings of further marginalisation of the Igbo, appealing to the National leadership of APC led under Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to balance the polity by ensuring that all ethnic nationalities were represented in the sharing of leadership positions to curb restiveness.
He added that since the South-West has produced the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the South-East should also be allowed to produce the speaker for fairness and balance.
According to him, it is only the South-East and the North-Central that remain left out now at the topmost level of the nation’s political leadership.
The associates of Okadigo and other groups believed Nwajiuba’s chances had become brighter because of the suit instituted by the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) seeking to disqualify Honourable Gbajabiamila, the anointed candidate of APC for speakership.
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The CUPP, through its spokesman, Ikenga Ugochinyere Imo said in a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday that Honourable Gbajabiamila’s choice for speaker, was “morally, politically and constitutionally wrong” because of a matter allegedly decided against him by Supreme Court of the State of Georgia in the United States
Ugochinyere claimed the Action Peoples Party (APP) had commenced criminal proceedings against Gbajabiamila before Grade I Area Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting in Karshi.
Tribune Online observed that the frenetic campaign for the position in the last few days included whistle-stop campaigns to states across the country; meetings with various caucuses of the ruling APC and main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with leading contenders making pledging an inclusive system and autonomy of the legislative arm of government.
With less than a week to the inauguration of the National Assembly, no fewer than 16 members-elect are jostling for the exalted position currently occupied by Honourable Yakubu Dogara.
The list includes Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, and Olusegun Odebunmi (South-West),;Garba Datti (Kaduna); Ado Doguwa (Kaduna), Babangida Ibrahim (Katsina), Sulaiman Kawu (Kano), Sulaiman Aminu (Kano), Tahir Monguno (Borno), Abdulrazaq Namdas (Adamawa), Mohammed Bago (Niger), John Dyegh (Benue), Idris Wase (Plateau), Abubakar Lado (Niger), Nkiruka Onyejeocha (Abia), Chike Okafor (Imo).