Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja and Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Ahead of the inauguration of the Ninth Assembly, tomorrow, some contenders for the speakership of the House of Representatives are exploring the possibility of presenting a united front against Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Gbajabiamila is the All Progressives Congress (APC) preferred candidate for the speakership of the House in the Ninth Assembly.
A source told Daily Sun that the candidates have decided to rally round one of them; to battle Gbajabiamila for the speakership.
The source, a ranking Representative, added that the candidates, in the last few days, have intensified negotiations, among themselves, with the aim of forming an alliance for speakership contest.
He said the candidates are likely to come up with a position, before the end of today, after they might have agreed on a power-sharing formula.
According to the source, as part of the ongoing negotiations, some interest groups are pushing for the candidates to rally round Umar Bago for speakership, while the Chairman, Committee on Aviation, Nkeiruka Onyejocha, will contest for the position of deputy speaker.
Aside Gbajabiamila, the other candidates for the speakership include Bago, Onyejocha, John Dyegh and Olajide Olatubosun.
Others are Chairman, Committee on Information, Segun Odebunmi and member-elect, Emeka Nwajiuba.
Spokesman of the Bago Campaign Organisation, Afam Ogene, confirmed to Daily Sun, yesterday, that the speakership candidates are talking among themselves.
Nevertheless, Ogene said he could not confirm the planned pair-up between Bago and Onyejeocha.
“They have all been canvassing one thing; they keyed into our demand for equity, justice and fairness in zoning the different offices. They are members of the political party. They are one family, the APC. So, I will not be surprised if they are talking ; injury to one is injury to all. I know they are talking. If there is any pair up, it will be made open. Pair-ups are not done in the dark. As soon as people consummate a marriage, people know. So far, there is none that I am aware off,” Ogene stated.
However, Dyegh, who represents Gboko/Tarka Federal Constituency of Benue State, told newsmen in Abuja, at the weekend, that he has no plan to withdraw from the contest.
“I am still strongly in the race; I do not have any reason to step down for anybody and by the grace of God, I am taking it to the end,” he stated.
When contacted, Onyejeocha said she was at a noisy place and promised to get back to our correspondent. She was yet to do so as the time of filing this report.
Regardless, Arewa Youth Awareness Forum (AYAF) has noted that if Gbajabiamila is allowed to emerge as speaker, it would amount to having the president, the senate president and the Chief Justice of Nigeria as Muslims holding key national positions.
AYAF said head or tail, a Muslim will emerge as senate president, holding the legislative arm of government.
The group said with this scenario playing out at a time most Nigerians are saying that the country is heading for being Islamised, there should be a rethink of picking Gbajabiamila as speaker.
Addressing a press conference in Kaduna, yesterday, AYAF leader, Mr. Obadiah Diji, said President Muhammadu Buhari would not be able to perform effectively if the three arms of government are headed by Muslims, because the opposition political parties will seize the opportunity to distract the President.
“By ensuring now that a Muslim heads the lower house, in addition to the Presidency, Senate and judiciary‚ the Buhari presidency and the North may later be further unjustly vilified with the undeserved label of ‘Islamisation Agenda’ across the world.