APC Govs to harmonise NASS leadership positions ahead of the zoning — Abdulrazaq


…Backs Wase for Reps speaker

…Disqualify any lawmaker who attempts to bribe his way into office — APC Chieftain

By Sodiq Adelakun

The Governors of All Progressive Congress (APC) have vowed to harmonise National Assembly leadership positions  ahead of the zoning to ensure emergence of mainly competent leaders. This was disclosed by the Governor of Kwara State Alhaji Abdukrahman  Abdulrazaq during the endorsement trip by  an aspirant for the Speaker House of Representatives and  Deputy Speaker House of Representatives Ahmed Wase.

The decision  is a follow up to the non-involvement of the president-elect, Bola Tinubu who has remained neutral just as the lobby for offices to be assigned along geo-political lines intensifies.

The key offices being lobbied for are Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Recall that some lawmakers both in the House of Representatives and in the Senate have already declared their interest in the positions of Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Those who have declared for the office of the Senate President are Orji Uzor Kalu, Barau Bibrin, Godswill Akpabio, Adams Oshiomhole,  Abdul-Aziz Yari, Dave Umahi and Sani Musa, who will not mind dropping to the position of the deputy Senate president.

In the House of Representatives, those who have declared interest to be Speaker are former Speaker of Plateau House of Assembly, Yusuf Gadi; incumbent Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Ahmed Wase, Tunji Olawuyi, Aliyu Betara and Benjamin Kalu.

A party source said that the governors’ meeting  “will focus on harmonising their position ahead of the zoning, or otherwise, of National Assembly leadership offices.

“They intend to avoid a divided house considering the mistakes of the past, especially in 2015 where the opposition infiltrated APC ranks and caused upsets in how the leadership of the National Assembly emerged,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kwara State Governor Abdulrahaman Abdulrazaq has joined the list of Governors who have thrown their weight behind the incumbent deputy speaker, Hon. Wase, to emerge as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Governor Abdulrazaq declared support for Wase when the latter paid a courtesy call at the Kwara Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja.

The Kwara Governor said, “We in the north central had resolved long before now that whatever we are qualified to go for, we shall go it. That was the resolution under the Niger Governor and that was the reason the Kogi Governor fought to be president.

“For now, the party has not taken any position and even the president-elect has remained neutral and maintained that neutrality till this moment.

“By the grace of the Almighty Allah, the APC Governors will meet tomorrow (today) and possibly open discussions on it. For now, everything and everywhere is fluid and it is good you are coming out.

“For us in the north-central, we shall meet shortly and ensure we go a consensus candidate and that person must be an experienced hand with the required calmness and pedigree. That will be our beacon and I have no doubt about your experience,” he said.

Wase had earlier been endorsed by Governors of Ondo, Ogun, Borno, Kogi, Nasarawa. Two governors of the main opposition PDP, namely Rivers and Osun, had also backed Wase for the top seat.

Disqualify any lawmaker who attempts to bribe his way into office — APC Chieftain

Also, the National Vice Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (North-West), Malam Salihu Lukman, yesterday called on the leadership of the party to impose an ethical code of conduct that would automatically disqualify any lawmaker who attempts to bribe his way into becoming the next Senate President or Speaker of the House of Representatives.

This comes after a report that members of the National Assembly who are eyeing leaderships seats have turned the APC national secretariat into a warehouse where several trucks are in the last one week offloading bags of rice and sugar for party leaders and members of the National Working Committee.

While stating that the unsolicited gesture reeks of corruption and a deliberate attempt to bribe decision-makers in the party, the Kaduna politician described the act as “unethical and disrespectful.”

The NWC member stated that though they had watched some senators and House of Representatives members lobby colleagues and stakeholders of the party with impunity, the ruling party had not zoned any of the principal offices to any region.

He, however, conceded there that there was an ongoing discussion on the issue among relevant decision-makers.

He said, “I want to appeal to our leaders and my colleagues in the NWC. We have to take every step to stop some unethical conducts in this fight. As things are, it is so worrying that people who are aspiring for positions in the leadership of the National Assembly are reaching out to members of the NWC in an unethical way. I don’t think that is right. At least two Senators, unfortunately from my zone (North-West), who are aspiring for the position of Senate President have sent bags of rice and bags of sugar.

“Another member of the House of Reps, also from my zone, aspiring for the position of Speaker of the House, I learnt has also sent bags of rice to individual members. As of today, we have not yet taken a decision on zoning for offices in the party. And I think it’s wrong for leaders at the level we are talking about to engage in unethical conduct.

“I want to appeal to our party. I’ve been an advocate of having a code of conduct within the APC. It is not by accident that God bestowed the responsibility of ruling this country in our hands. It is not by accident that we also find ourselves in the NWC. I think everything needs to be done to sanitise the party and those who are engaged in unethical conduct if I have my way, should be disqualified from contesting for the positions they aspire for. It’s the only way we can begin to sanitise politics in this country. And I thought I should, through you (journalists), raise this alarm and call on all those aspiring for positions of leadership in the National Assembly to please respect the party and those of us in the NWC.

“I think it’s disrespectful to just think that we can be bribed. I think our leaders, notably the Chairman and the National Secretary, should rise to the occasion by stopping this unethical practice. Because if they don’t give the permission, I don’t see why bags of rice and bags of sugar will enter the Secretariat and even get distributed towards the end.”

It was gathered that the APC Governors, formally called Progressives Governors Forum (PGF), would also commence talks on how the party should zone the leadership offices in the National Assembly.

Ending of duplication of projects, my major objective, if elected — Yusuf Gagdi

Yusuf Gagdi, one of the aspirants for the Speaker of the House of Representatives, said he has met with 24 out of the 36 Governors in the country in his quest to occupy the position.

Mr Gagdi, a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Plateau State, disclosed this during an interactive session with journalists in Abuja on Wednesday.

He said the silent approach is part of the strategy by his team to woo the governors.

Mr Gagdi also disclosed that he met with the Abia State Governor-elect, Alex Otti, to target the 34 Reps-elect on the platform of the Labour Party (LP).

He stated that he met with Mr Otti, a member of LP, in Lagos on Tuesday and also held another meeting with the party’s governorship candidate in Enugu State, Chijioke Edeoga.

“Yesterday (Tuesday) I commenced my public engagements in which I visited Lagos to meet with the Governor-elect of Abia State and members of the Labour Party.  Abia has seven members from the Labour Party in the House of Representatives. From there I flew to Enugu to engage and have interaction with the state party chairman of the Labour Party, as well as the governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Enugu State.

“Engaging a Governor who has a majority in the House of Representatives in terms of members-elect is important. Particularly in the House of Representatives. Yesterday was the first public engagement I had but silently I have visited 24 governors across the country,” he said.

While Mr Gagdi did not mention the Governors he visited, however, it is possible the governors cut across political parties because his party, the APC has 21 governors.

Speaking on his plan for the House, Mr Gagdi said ending “duplication of projects” in the budget is his major objective, if elected.

He however promised to reform the budgetary process to achieve efficiency.

He noted that often projects are listed in the budget based on political considerations at the expense of economic factors.

“I have seen a lot of wrongs in the National Assembly that need to be right. In terms of budget — how do I intend to stop the proliferation of projects? Projects will commence with taxpayers’ money and it won’t be completed, another similar project will be initiated due to political interest. That is what is wasting taxpayers’ money. I have intentions to correct these.”

Candidates for the speakership election have been making overtures outside their parties.

Deputy Speaker Idris Wase (APC, Plateau) also visited Governor Nyesom Wike in Rivers State to draw support for his aspiration.

It was gathered that the ruling party has been unable to form a majority in the House, and the combined strength of the opposition parties is higher than the APC.

The ruling APC has so far won 162 seats out of the 325 seats declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The combined strength of the opposition is 163 seats — the PDP has 102 seats while LP and NNPP have 34 and 18 seats respectively. APGA has four seats, ADC and SDP two each while YPP got one seat.

The ruling party is yet to take a decision on the zoning of the principal offices of the two chambers.

Some members of the PDP had on Tuesday also organised a parley with several minority parties in a bid to form an alliance to “checkmate” the ruling party.

Speaking on the meetings with LP members, Mr Gagdi said it is part of a strategy to get the buy-in of the people outside the APC and to build a consensus ahead of the inauguration of the National Assembly in June.