There are indications that the race for speakership – the prime leadership position in the incoming 9th Assembly is taking a new dimension despite the ruling party, All Progressives Congress, APC adopted the current House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila as its consensus candidate.
Standing on a favorable lane in this new political leaning is one of the topmost contenders for the position of the speakership, Rt. Hon. Mohammed Umar Bago.
There is an underground plot by some chieftains in the APC to back off Gbajabiamila’s campaign and support a candidate of north-central extract.
According to feelers in the House of Representatives, majority of the returning lawmakers and a section of the APC have teamed up with Hon. Bago and are vehemently working against the combatant-like disposition of the national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole and National leader, Bola Tinubu in delivering the speakership position to Gbajabiamila.
A top chieftain of APC who spoke to this medium on condition of anonymity, said Gbajabiamila chances are threatened by fears in some quarters of the party that he [Gbajabiamila], a staunch loyalist of Tinubu may do the bidding of his Lagos ‘godfather’ rather than that of the party.
“There is a northern governor who leading talks with 14 other governors to ensure Gbajabiamila’s bid is frustrated.” Says source
Only recently, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai made an anti-godfather [An allusion directed to Tinubu] remark in Lagos State which was calculated by political analyst as a reflection of the in-fighting in the APC.
Advancing on his strength of building people-centric relationships, Bago who was adjudged by his supporters as highly ‘relatable’ said his campaign will focus on the establishment of a functional and enduring relationship with his stakeholders.
Lawmakers who are supporting Bago are putting up a good debate on why the APC leadership should give north-central chance to get the speakership of the 9th assembly.
One of the points advanced Bago’s supporters is ‘federal character’ – they hold that the position of the speakership should be zoned to the North Central since the North-West has Mr. President, the South-West has the Vice President and the Senate President has been zoned to the North-East.
If APC is to go by popular support and equitable zoning formula, the 9th speakership will almost seem a perfect hard-earned right of the north-central.
The Senate presidency was zoned to the North-East, being the zone that contributed the highest number of votes after the North-West, as such the proponents in this line of thought believe the speakership position will naturally, go to the next in line – the North-Central zone – which produced the second largest votes after the North-East (2,465,599).
The Bago’s camp is not only mounting pressure on the presidency but also lobbying with lawmakers from the North Central states to seek compensation for delivering the third largest votes to the second-term election of President Buhari on February 23.
Meanwhile, Gbajabiamila is not leaving any stone unturned – his camp is very active and they have toured almost the entire country soliciting support for his candidature.
Gbajabiamila has also resorted to play up the ethnic and religious sentiments to avoid missing the highly contested seat like he did in 2015. The Lagos lawmaker is today seen more at Islamic events or sometimes visiting highly revered Islamic clerics. He recently traveled to Saudi Arabia for a lesser hajj and was pictured leading an Islamic prayer in another session.
Critics have however alleged that Gbajabiamila is also an elder in a Pentecostal Church.
However, those in Gbajabiamila’s camp have dispelled the allegation of double faith, saying Gbajabiamila’s one of parents is a Moslem while the other is a Christian.
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