A break-away faction of the minority caucus of the members-elect of the House of Representatives has backed Tajudeen Abbas and Ben Kalu as speaker and deputy speaker, respectively, confirming a division in the caucus.
The decision was contained in a communique issued on Monday following a meeting of the faction of the opposition group at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.
Idu Igariwey, a ranking PDP member from Ebonyi State, and Alhassan Rurum, a member of the NNPP from Kano State, signed the communique.
“That in furtherance of our resolve to play a leading role in the formation of the leadership of the 10th Assembly and as a result of our diligent interactions with all aspirants for the position of Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, we hereby resolve to support the duo of the Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas and Rt. Hon Benjamin Kalu, respectively as Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“That we have found in the two persons of Tajudeen Abbas and Benjamin Kalu, a leadership that will allow for fairness and equity as well as provide an equal platform for all political parties represented in Parliament to have a say in the running of the legislature and expression of alternate views on issues of public interest.
“That in the next few days we will be meeting in a larger caucus of the minority parties to discuss and formalise the adoption of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker designates of the 10th Assembly of the House of Representatives,” the communique reads.
Crack in the ranks of minority
This development shows a crack in the minority caucus as the members held two meetings simultaneously at different venues on Monday. Both camps claim to represent all the minority parties.
Idu Igariwey, a ranking PDP member from Ebonyi State, leads the faction that endorsed Mr Abbas. In contrast, another group led by Fred Agbedi, a ranking PDP member from Bayelsa State, met at Fraser Suites, Abuja, and announced a plan to get a suitable candidate to back.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that Mr Tinubu settled for Messrs Abbas and Kalu for speaker and deputy speaker, respectively.
The faction that met at Fraser Suites failed to get a committee to cause an upset against the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the speakership race.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported that the coalition, which comprises the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP), New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Social Democratic Party (SDP), African Democratic Congress (ADC) and the Young Progressive Party (YPP), set up a 13-man committee to shop for a candidate from the minority camp.
The Secretary of the Committee, Victor Afam, a Labour Party member-elect from Anambra State, said the committee could not get a candidate as none of the minority caucus members showed interest.
He stated this on Monday during the meeting of the caucus at the Fraser Suites Hotel.
Mr Afam informed his colleagues that no one showed interest, saying, however, that the caucus remains united.
“The committee called on Members of the minority caucus who are interested in the speakership or Deputy Speaker position to step forward.
“I wish to report on behalf of the Chairman of that Committee and the entire members, as at the end of the period given to undertake that assignment, no member of the minority caucus, better known as the greater majority, stepped forward to contest for the role of presiding officers.
“Deductively, this means that we are not bidding for those two positions. However, we remain united as one caucus of the opposition parties,” he said.
He also disclosed that the minority group met with all the aspirants in the race to decide on who to back.
“We did also meet with those aspiring for the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives, but because we’ve not briefed our members, I will not go into details of our interface,” he said.
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The minority coalition may have to pick from incumbent Deputy Speaker Idris Wase (Plateau), Yusuf Gagdi (Plateau), Sada Soli (Katsina), Muktar Betara (Borno) Tunji Olawuyi (Kwara), Abubakar Makki (Jigawa), Aminu Jaji (APC, Zamfara), Ado Doguwa (Kano), and Miriam Onuoha (Imo).
Meanwhile, the ruling party, APC, aligning with the President-elect, has adopted Messrs Abbas and Kalu as the candidates for speaker and deputy speaker.
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