Hitherto opposition party says it is set to take over the leadership of the lower
The All Progressives Congress, APC, Caucus in the House of Representatives says it will not move against the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, in its quest to take over the leadership of the lower legislative chamber later this month.
It however said it was not certain about the fate of the deputy speaker, Emeka Ihedioha.
The leader of the Caucus, Femi Gbajabiamila, who disclosed this in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday, said the party had commenced moves to take over the leadership of the House upon resumption from the Christmas/New Year break.
APC, a merger of three parties, Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Congress for Progressives Change, CPC, All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, and a section of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, emerged the majority party in the 360-member House last month following the defection of 37 members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to it.
With the defection, APC now has 172 members to PDP’s 171. There are speculations that more PDP members will decamp to the hitherto opposition party when the House resumes.
Both Messrs Tambuwal and Ihedioha, who were elected into the positions in June 2011, are still members of the PDP.
Mr. Gbajabiamila, who is also the Minority Leader of the House, said Mr. Tambuwal would remain as the Speaker because he was elected by the whole House.
“It is not a matter of planning to take over, that is what the rule of the House says, that the majority takes over the leadership of the House. We have no choice in the matter. You cannot be the majority and play the minority role,” Mr. Gbajabiamila said.
“Tambuwal will remain Speaker in all circumstances. He was elected by the whole House. Most of the APC members are comfortable with him. I cannot speak for the deputy, but I will rather have a situation where he remains.”
The lawmaker said he was not aware of any pressure by the APC on the Speaker to join the party.
He said, “I don’t know of such move, but if we need to, we will. We will be happy as a party to have him.
“We have never said every PDP member is bad. You have good and bad people everywhere. There are very few ones in the PDP who are good and I dare say Tambuwal is one of such people. They are progressives.
“We will be happy to have him in our fold, but whether he will accept or not is another thing.”
Asked if the APC was anticipating any resistance from the PDP in its quest to take over the leadership of the House, the lawmaker said the party (APC) would not be surprised if some of the lawmaker put up some resistance.
He however said the resistance would amount to nothing because the House rules were clear about who should lead the House, stressing “I just believe our members are mature enough not to put up any resistance.”
Mr. Gbajabiamila, who represents Surulere federal constituency of Lagos State, was also evasive on reported plans to replace Mulikat Akande of the PDP as the House Leader upon resumption.
Ms. Akande from Oyo State emerged the House leader because of her membership of the PDP which as majority in the House then chose one of its members as leader. Should the APC decide to exert itself as majority, then a member of the party, likely Mr. Gbajabiamila, its leader, would emerge the House Leader.
“I am not planning to do anything. I just want to do my legislative work. As I said earlier, the majority cannot play minority role that is what the rules say,” Mr. Gbajabiamila said.
The PDP produced majority of the members of the House and the Senate since the return of democracy in 1999. Consequently, all the Senate Presidents and Speakers and their deputies have come from the party.