Two of the three prominent speakership aspirants from the North-Central geopolitical zone have joined forces against the candidate of the All Progressives Congress and Majority Leader of the House of Reps, Femi Gbajabiamila, The Punch can report.
The lawmakers, Mr Mohammed Bago of Niger State and John Dyegh of Benue State, have insisted on the zoning of the speakership seat in the Ninth National Assembly to the North-Central zone, claiming that the area had not produced a Speaker or Deputy Speaker since 1999.
It was learnt that Dyegh, on Tuesday, visited Bago at his campaign office in Abuja, calling for a joint struggle for the recognition of North-Central by the APC in the sharing of leadership positions.
Speaking on his discussion with Dyegh, Bago, in an interview with The Punch, said he had agreed to work with his co-aspirant to fight Gbajabiamila at the speakership poll.
Bago said, “He (Dyegh) came to us, to identify with our cause and that he also believes in the North-Central speakership project. Therefore, he wants us to form an alliance so that we can foster the aspiration of the North-Central. If we are able to achieve that, then we will choose among ourselves one person that will go for the position.
“Don’t forget that Dyegh was the Director-General of Mohammed Wase’s campaign organisation. But he has visited me for collaboration.”
Bago also noted that he started the campaign for North-Central speakership, accusing the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, of desperation while alleging that Gbajabiamila was imposed on the party as its speakership candidate.
He stated, “I started this issue of equity, justice and fairness, and all of them have lent their voices to my struggle because it is a collective one. When somebody was addressing me, he said he read in the newspapers that the (Niger) state Chairman of APC said they were (members) with the party (on Gbajabiamila). I said it was in order and I did not have issues with that.
“As a state chapter of the party, they must also comply with the directives of the national body. But they cannot ask why the party is doing this. Is it the decision of the National Executive Committee or National Working Committee. Who decided; who and who sat? We need the minutes of the meeting that decided that they would endorse people. You can macromanage the situation to say, ‘take it to this zone or that zone’, you cannot microzone to an individual. It shows desperation of an aspiration.
“The ‘coup de’tat’ that brought the APC to government was orchestrated in the National Assembly, particularly in the House of Representatives and (the national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola) Tinubu, from outside, was part of the coup de’tat. He provided the tools that were used and the awareness of members. Because we understand his ways, we are very wary of what he wants to do.”
When contacted on Friday, Dyegh also confirmed the meeting and the planned alliance with Bago.
“It was a solidarity meeting so that the speakership will come to the North-Central. Bago is not my enemy; he is my friend. My visiting him was in solidarity, to show to the world that this thing that we are doing is in friendship and it must come to the North-Central. We must work together and make sure that it comes to the zone,” he said.
When reminded that there were about 20 speakership aspirants who were also demanding that the Speaker should come from their zones, Dyegh said, “We feel it is ours; any other persons doing it are just trying their luck.”
When the lawmaker was also reminded that the APC had already zoned the speakership to the South-West and endorsed Gbajabiamila as its candidate, he said, “It is not over until it is over. We still think there is room for negotiation. We still feel very strongly that the party made a mistake by taking it to the South-West which already has the Vice-President.
“If they are taking the speakership to the South-West, they should take the Senate presidency to the North-West. If you are giving the Vice-President, the Speaker; give the President, the Senate President to balance it.
“Nigeria belongs to all of us; it does not belong to individuals. The North-Central has worked for the unity of this country for the APC and the government of the day, particularly President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election.
“Why would they think that our votes don’t matter? We brought the third largest votes over and above the South-West. So, why would they take what rightly belongs to us and give it to the South-West which already has the Vice-President? These are the points we are raising.”
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