The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is walking on a tightrope in the House of Representatives as lawmakers plot to truncate the zoning arrangement proposed by President-elect Bola Tinubu and adopted by the party’s leadership.
In a shock move, the National Working Committee on Monday adopted Tajudeen Abbas, a member of the House from Kaduna State, as a consensus candidate, while Ben Kalu, a lawmaker from Abia State was picked as deputy speaker.
Later in the evening, in a surprise move, all the major aspirants— Deputy Speaker Idris Wase, Ado Doguwa, Yusuf Gagdi, Sada Soli, Ahmed Jaji and Miriam Onuoha appeared at the declaration of Muktar Betara and openly rejected Abbas as the consensus candidate.
“We will defeat those forces that think Nigeria is in their pocket,” Deputy Speaker Wase said while addressing the crowd. He also disclosed that five of the aspirants already joined forces against the establishment.
Some other aspirants like Soli, Doguwa and Jaji also spoke, while expressing readiness to challenge and defeat the anointed candidate.
“APC does not have the number to tell lawmakers to go to hell. The entire majority is small, compared to the last assembly when APC had over 200,” a lawmaker in the camp of one of the aspirants said during a meeting on Sunday.
Bellnewsonline.com check of the list of member-elect shows that the ruling party indeed has a lesser number compared to the aggregation of all minority parties. The APC has 177, while the opposition parties have 181.
The current situation bears similarities with the 8th Assembly where Yakubu Dogara and Yusuf Lasun teamed up with the opposition in 2015, and won against the anointed candidate, Femi Gbajabiamila and Mohammed Monguno.
This paper learnt that the majority of the lawmakers from the Northeast are backing Betara, while Abdulmummin Jibrin has been mobilizing opposition lawmakers, including members of the NNPP, Labour Party and PDP.
The minority group seems divided between Abbas’ team and Betara. The caucus formed by some lawmakers loyal to Gbajabiamila have been campaigning for Abbas, while Betara controls the “greater majority” group.
There are indications that some of the aspirants may drop when negotiation commences.
The APC NWC had warned Mr Tinubu to ensure that they increase consultation.
“The NWC called for further and better consultation with necessary stakeholders in order to assure the support of the aspirants to the National Assembly leadership positions and members of the Party nationwide,” it reads.
Opposition joins race
While the ruling party grapples with an internal crisis, the opposition party are plotting to take the seat.
Dachung Bagos, one of the spokespersons for the opposition parties, said the minority group has concluded plans to have one of its own to become the Speaker.
“We have already agreed to contest for the presiding offices,” he said.
The parties may struggle to get the entire minority lawmakers to unite, as several of them are already playing leading roles in the campaign of APC members.