Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Few hours after the All Progressives Congress (APC) anointed Femi Gbajabiamila as its preferred candidate for the speakership of the ninth House of Representatives, two contenders, John Dyegh and Umaru Bago, have called the bluff of the party, as they insisted on vying for the top position.
The duo rejected the adoption and said they were continuing with their campaigns for the coveted seat.
Dyegh and Bago, who hail from the North Central, in their separate reactions to Gbajabiamila’s adoption, yesterday, said the ruling party ought to have ceded the position to their zone in the interest of equity and fair play.
National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, had at a dinner with members of the party in the House of Representatives at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday night, announced Gbajabiamila as the preferred choice of the APC.
However, Dyegh, while formally declaring his intention to contest at a press briefing in Abuja, urged the leadership of the party to reconsider its decision to cede the position to the South West.
The lawmaker, while reaffirming his loyalty to the APC, noted that the party is yet to convince the North Central why it could not get the speakership seat.
“My party, the APC, in her wisdom zoned the position of Speaker to the South West and even micro-zoned. I am a party man and my loyalty to the APC is 100 per cent. However, the North Central zone has not been convinced or given reasons why their votes should not count and why we should not run; and we feel very strongly that there is still room for negotiation because we believe it’s not over until it is over.
“We are, therefore, appealing to the party to have a rethink and rezone the speakership to the North Central for justice and fair play. We pray to God Almighty to touch the hearts of our leaders to reconsider us favourably.
“It will only be fair if the position of speaker is given to the North Central, having taken away the seat of senate president to the North East. It is instructive to note that the North Central has neither produced speaker nor the deputy speaker since 1999. We are saying that reward in politics is based on what you bring to the table and the North Central brought the third highest number of votes in making President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term a reality and enabling the APC to form Federal Government.”
Bago said he was not aware the APC has micro-zoned the speakership position to Gbajabiamila.
The lawmaker, in a statement by spokesman of his campaign organisation, Victor Ogene, described the adoption of Gbajabiamila at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday night, was a poorly choreographed attempt to sell his candidacy.
“As attested by some members-elect who attended the late night dinner, and collaborated by newspaper reports of the event, President Muhammadu Buhari was smart enough to see through the charade, leading to his open reprimand of the APC National Chairman for discussing unnecessary details that were unknown to him, saying that his understanding of how to proceed was that all zones would meet and discuss zoning.
“For us, therefore, there is no retreat, no surrender, in our demand for equity and justice in the zoning arrangement, and the ultimate desire of many members-elect to be allowed to choose their own leaders,” he stated.
While stating that Nigerians would want to know when the APC national caucus and other organs of the party met to arrive at the zoning and micro-zoning of the position, Bago cautioned that “our party is being goaded towards the same ignoble path which led to the 2015 fiasco, which the National Assembly leadership tussle turned out to be.”
Similarly, Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrasak Namdas, who is also a contender for the speakership seat, told Daily Sun that he is still in the contest, noting that nothing has been concluded.
“We have seven weeks to the election. Even the president said we should sit down and make our house in order. We will get there . It is not a matter of rejection. I am in the race. We will continue to look at activities as they unfold in the House,” he maintained.