The election of Br. Tajudeen Abass as Speaker of the House for the 10th National Assembly by the All Progressives Congress National Working Committee has been opposed by other leading contenders for the post of President.
Aggrieved hopefuls who met with the NWC led by Abdullahi Adamu at the party’s National Secretariat on Wednesday include Miriam Onuoha, Idris Wase and Muktar Aliyu Betara, among others.
At the meeting, the aspirants explicitly rejected the choice of Abass as the party’s consensus candidate.
The hopefuls accused the party of betraying them after forcing them to set aside their speaker ambition in 2019 for Femi Gbajabiamila.
They condemned the party’s decision to release a consensus list without first consulting all the candidates, warning that the hierarchy of parliamentary posts cannot be destroyed.
The aggrieved candidates urged party leaders to review the matter, saying the consensus list produced “cannot stand.”
APC must prevent a repeat of the Saraki incident — Wase
The current vice president warned that the APC does not have a comfortable majority to be arrogant and take people for granted.
He warned against a repeat of the situation the party found itself in in 2015 when Bukola Saraki defied the party directive to emerge as Senate president.
He called on co-contenders to resign for him to avoid an unequal distribution of top positions.
He said: “We don’t want a repeat of what happened in the past. We must not forget the Tambuwalization of what happened in the House of Representatives. We must not forget how Saraki became President of the Senate. The party from today does not have the majority to be so arrogant, and we must not take the people for granted.
He went on to say: “We saw the spokesman for our party stating that there was negotiation or consultation and that is why these lists were made.
“This is a party that we hope will galvanize us and unite us with an entity called Nigeria to better serve.
“We feel betrayed by this action by the publicity secretary. We feel that if our contributions are not recognized, we are not members of this family. We feel that we have given our best, but now the best is no longer needed.
He went on to say, “My brother Betara is eminently qualified but he should resign because we have a vice president from there. Why then do we have a skewed distribution? Is it because those of the north center are taken as slaves? Four years is not too long, let’s not destroy this party before going to the next elections. We must build this party on the spirit and trust of the equitable distribution of resources.”
Tinubu begged me to resign from Gbajabiamila in 2019 — Betara
For his part, Brother Muktar Aliyu Betara told how the president-elect convinced him to resign from the current president, Femi Gbajabiamila.
He said that he agreed to Tinubu’s request and stabilized the house for Gbajabiamila: “I was called by the president-elect (Tinubu) and he told me that I want them to allow Femi to be the speaker because Femi is withdrawing from the National Assembly. From there we went on to support Femi for her to become the speaker.
“After our election in the 9th Assembly, the president-elect still called me and said, Betara, I want you to hold the Chamber for Femi and I told him daddy, I work for Femi for four years, I will not convert if Femi is really ready to work with us with an honest mind.
“He said go ahead, I’ll talk to Femi. Femi appointed me Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee where I worked well with him.
“Everyone here can testify that it is in the IX Assembly that we have a good progress with the assignments without setbacks. I have done well for the Chamber and I have done well for the party.
“Our colleagues here can testify, I have done well for the National Assembly. When he was President of the Army, President of Defense and now Assignments. Sir, I have 38 members, including me and my Vice President of the Appropriations committee, but to stabilize the House, I co-opted 100 members for my committee just to stabilize the House for Femi.
APC must include women in top positions: Onuoha
The only female candidate for the speaker’s post, Princess Miriam Onuoha, said the APC must fulfill its promise to include women contained in its presidential manifesto.
He said the party is headed for anarchy if it fails to accommodate women in top government posts, adding that the party’s actions in choosing a candidate by consensus without proper consultation were demoralizing.
“The party presented us with a manifesto that is brilliant. It clearly encapsulates and articulates the need for the inclusion of women. We mobilize women to be interested in politics and politicking because more than 49.5% of the Nigerian population are women.
“If we ignore this garbage population, we are heading for anarchy. When a woman is on a project, she commits her time and her life, at the time when they were divergent interests, I stayed with us and made sure we had a smooth vote of an electoral process that produced our president-elect today.
“Working for APC in the South East where I was treated like a leper during an election where a strong candidate from the South East Labor Party emerged. Taking such a risk and losing the lives of my loved ones out of loyalty and defense of my strength and alignment with the party is proof of loyalty and the reward is what I seek.
“If we got into the neck and lost lives when it comes time for the reward, I think it is the state that has complied that should receive the right of first refusal,” he added.
Adamu asks for calm, says that the consultations are still ongoing
In reaction, APC National Chairman Abdullahi Adamu called for peace and promised the aggrieved aspirants that consultations would continue.
He said the NWC will still invite applicants back to discuss the controversies surrounding the zoning arrangements.
“As party leaders, you are part of the people who elected us; we cannot stop listening to you, we cannot but try to understand you. We have heard you, we do not intend to open discussions with you at this time regarding your submissions. Like some of you who heard the statement from this office, we made it very clear that we would strive to do more consultation so that we could bring members of this great
“I beg you in good conscience to give us a little time to better view your presentation and to open our ears and eyes to hear more and see more before we can conclude your presentation and the outcome. of that
“We will invite you back in due time. This is a controversial issue for any national assembly regime. We wasted time because we couldn’t talk about sharing power in the National Assembly without our elected president. He is the person who will lead the government that we inaugurated on May 29 and it is only fair that we wait for him. He was away for 5 weeks and came back one day before we had this meeting. So, I assure you that we would make all the inquiries and we will get in touch with you, ”he told the aggrieved applicants.