…Bago, Dyegh build alliance
The adoption of Ahmed Wase by Femi Gbajabiamila as his running mate for the office of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives has brought twist in the race for the Leadership of the 9th Assembly.
Gbajabiamila is the House Majority Leader and has been adopted by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC for the office of the Speaker and Wase is the Deputy Majority Leader and was also in the contest for Speakership.
While Gbajabiamila was adopted by the APC, there are no traces to the party’s selection of Wase for the office of Deputy Speaker though it had zoned the position to the North Central; hence this is purely an arrangement by the present Majority Leader and his Deputy.
This political marriage of convenience has barred other contenders from the North-central and South-east whom many political observers believed were in the race for Speakership to cling the Deputy at the end of the day.
Not resting on their oars, some of the aspirants, particularly Mohammed Bago and John Dyegh have building alliance to forge a common front to fight Gbajabiamila and now Wase.
The upsurge in the alliance strategy followed the adoption or anointing of Gbajabiamila as the candidate for the Speakership slot by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC against the wishes of other aspirants.
Shortly after the February/March general elections that produced the present House of Representatives Members-elect, there emerged 15 contenders to the Speakership Seat including: Abdulrahman Sumaila( Kano), Ahmed Wase (Plateau) Mohamad Monguno (Borno), Olusegun Odebunmi (Oyo), Abdulrazak Namdas (Adamawa), Khajidat Bukar-Ibrahim (Yobe), Yakub Buba (Adamawa), Alhasan Doguwa (Kano), Umar Bago (Niger), Babangida Ibrahim-Mahuta (Katsina), Nkiruka Onyejeocha (Abia), Suleiman Aminu (Kano), Abubakar Lado (Niger) and Muhammed Kazaure (Jigawa) as well as John Dyegh(APC).
However, sequel to the adoption of Gbajabiamila from Lagos (South-West), most of the contenders quietly end their aspirations except Bago from Niger (North-central), Dyegh from Benue (North-central) and Nkieruka Onyejeocha from Abia (South-east) while Chike Okafor from Imo (South-east) recently joined the race.
Now, the number of aspirants for House Speaker has been trimmed to five out of the initial 15 and the 2015 ugly experience of APC in which the party adopted the same Gbajabiamila but was defeated by Yakubu Dogara following infiltration of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP is still eminent.
Consequently, alliance is the option left and Gbajabiamila acting on the zoning of the Deputy Speaker position to the North-central picked Ease from the zone who earlier contested for the position.
Abdulmumin Jibril (APC, Kano), Director- General of Gbajabiamila Speakership Campaign Organisation while announcing the arrangement, “Wase is going to run as the Deputy Speaker. We are going to vote and by the grace of God elect Femi as Speaker and we are going to elect Wase as Deputy Speaker. I hope this clarification and this categorical statement will bring that matter to rest and it is not a single decision.
“It is a decision that involves an extensive consultations. We talked to ourselves, consulted with our elders, with our leaders and consulted extensively with Members that are going to constitute the 9th Assembly and we arrived at that position that we are putting forward Femi and Wase as our team”.
Prior to disclosure by Gbajabiamila group was learnt Dyegh had visited Bago at his campaign office in Abuja and worked out plan for a joint struggle for the recognition of North-Central by the APC in the sharing of leadership positions.
Confirming that, he had agreed to work with his co-aspirant to fight Gbajabiamila at the speakership poll Bago said, “he (Dyegh) came to us, to identify with our cause and that he also believes in the North-Central speakership project. Therefore, he wants us to form an alliance so that we can foster the aspiration of the North-Central. If we are able to achieve that, then we will choose among ourselves one person that will go for the position.
“I started this issue of equity, justice and fairness, and all of them have lent their voices to my struggle because it is a collective one. Is it the decision of the National Executive Committee or National Working Committee. Who decided; who and who sat? We need the minutes of the meeting that decided that they would endorse people. You can micromanage the situation to say, ‘take it to this zone or that zone’, you cannot microzone to an individual. It shows desperation of an aspiration.
“The ‘coup de’tat’ that brought the APC to government was orchestrated in the National Assembly, particularly in the House of Representatives and (the national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola) Tinubu, from outside, was part of the coup de’tat. He provided the tools that were used and the awareness of members. Because we understand his ways, we are very wary of what he wants to do”.
Also confirming the meeting and the planned alliance with Bago, Dyegh said, “it was a solidarity meeting so that the speakership will come to the North-Central. Bago is not my enemy; he is my friend. My visiting him was in solidarity, to show to the world that this thing that we are doing is in friendship and it must come to the North-Central. We must work together and make sure that it comes to the zone.
“We feel it is ours; any other persons doing it are just trying their luck. It is not over until it is over. We still think there is room for negotiation. We still feel very strongly that the party made a mistake by taking it to the South-West which already has the Vice-President.
“If they are taking the speakership to the South-West, they should take the Senate presidency to the North-West. If you are giving the Vice-President, the Speaker; give the President, the Senate President to balance it.
“Nigeria belongs to all of us; it does not belong to individuals. The North-Central has worked for the unity of this country for the APC and the government of the day, particularly President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election.
“Why would they think that our votes don’t matter? We brought the third largest votes over and above the South-West. So, why would they take what rightly belongs to us and give it to the South-West which already has the Vice-President? These are the points we are raising”.
The Bago and Dyegh alliance may not end like that of Gbajabiamila and Wase because they are both from North-central, there is likelihood of one stepping down for another and when this is done it would sail more than the former.
Perhaps, there is no visible alliance so far between Onyejeocha and Chike, the two aspirants from the South-east but one thing that is crystal clear is the conspiracy against Gbajabiamila, the APC preferred candidate for the House Speaker.
For instance, Onyejeocha while declaring for Speakership asked the party to rescind its zoning decision to South West and called on Gbajabiamila, the anointed candidate o withdraw from the race.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, Onyejeocha asked the party to rescind its zoning decision to South West and called on Gbajabiamila, the anointed candidate o withdraw from the race.
“I am appealing to them that it is not yet late to rescind their decision to include a woman to clip the two geopolitical zones that were left out ab initio. Also the leader of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, there is time in somebody’s life that any leader should make sacrifice and that time is now for the leader of my party, and the leader of the 8th Assembly”.
Similarly, Okafor had told APC to sacrifice Gbajabiamila, national unity. “The party should be able to sacrifice merit and competence to be able to accommodate social justice, fairness, to embrace unity.
“The party will also find competence and merit in other people who are also aspiring. We are not saying sacrifice merit and competence and go and pick a neophyte or go and pick a non-ranking member. No. That is not what we are saying and I will not stand here because of my ambition and not allude to fact that the party’s choice is ably qualified.
“But you and I are saying and the whole country is saying that there are other things that should be considered. We have the Vice President sitting in that place. Why? Is it is that you no longer can find any competent person with merit that can occupy the position that is why you want to say the whole of the South-east, you can go to hail and stay there, North-central go to hail and stay there. That is what we are saying. The party should consider that”.
Meanwhile, there are permutations that the ongoing negotiations for a consensus candidate in the North-central are in favour of Bago who unlike his counterpart Dyegh has the bagging of his home state, Niger and the Governor of his State, Abubakar Bello who lobbying other governors and APC chieftains to support Bago.
Bello had told members -elect during their induction that, “going by our own record since 2015 to 2019, when you check the record, Niger State is about rated 6th in times of performance when it comes to deliver for APC in presidential elections.
“This particular position of speakership is not in contest and it is not a miscalculation when you check the record since 2015, we have a zoning pattern. The essence of zoning is to reduce tension and allow other regions to benefit.
“The people of Niger state, we are appealing to all the members-elect that this particular position should come to North Central, and to Niger state.
“We as a government will do everything humanly possible, both in morale support and otherwise, to ensure this position come to Niger state”.
Pundits are of the view that Bago represents the typical progressive breed of politicians in the lower Chamber of the Legislature, is popular among his colleagues across the political divide and the main opposition PDP would be eager to work with him considering his open and independent mindedness.