Minority members-elect move to produce 10th Assembly Speaker
Emboldened by its numerical strength in the soon to be inaugurated 10th House of Representatives, the emergent minority caucus has resolved to gun for the speakership position.
This followed the outcome of last Saturday’s supplementary elections which saw the membership of the minority caucus swollen to 182, one vote more than the statutory benchmark (181 votes) required to elect a Speaker, leaving the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) with 178.
The minority caucus is drawn from the People Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP), New Nigeria People Party (NNPP), All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Social Democratic Party (SDP), African Democratic Congress (ADC) and Young Progressive Party (YPP).
Already, there are permutations to promote a speakership candidate from the south-south geo-political zone, and a deputy Speaker from the North West.
Rising from an emergency meeting of the minority caucus leadership held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja last night, the caucus which now refers to itself as “Greater Majority,” emphasised that it was primed to contest the positions of speaker and deputy speaker of the 10th National Assembly.
Speaking with journalists on the position of the caucus, a Member-elect from Anambra, Victor Afam Ogene, said the Constitution imbues every elected member with the statutory right to gun for any leadership position, subject to the standing orders of the House.
Ogene said: “Besides the issue of ranking, every member is entitled to run for the office of Speaker, regardless of political party affiliation.
“The All Progressives Congress, APC, or indeed, any political party for that matter, reserves the right to regale itself with talks about micro-zoning leadership positions in the National Assembly. But the overriding question remains, are such fanciful engagements binding on the generality of Members-Elect? The answer today, tomorrow — and until our current constitution is altered to reflect that desire — is a big No.
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“Issues surrounding this all-important question is easily resolved, in the case of the House of Representatives, by Section 50(1)(b), to wit:” There shall be a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves.
“While zoning is permitted, as an intra-party solution to the sharing of political offices, seeking to enforce such on the generality of members would be tantamount to affronting Section 50 of the Nigerian constitution.
“Besides, political parties must not always use the National Assembly as guinea pigs for their zoning fancies. Why didn’t these governors summon the same courage, which they currently seek to flaunt, during the presidential primaries, by micro-zoning the presidency to a particular zone?
“If it was okay to say that the presidential ticket should go to the South, then I think they ought to follow through with that same template, and propose, for instance, that the Speakership should go to the North.”