Ahead of today’s meeting with the National Assembly members-elect slated at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has elected to form a government of national unity, Vanguard can competently reveal.
Coming after the presidential election, which outcome is perceived in some quarters as controversial, the moves were ultimately initiated to calm frayed nerves around the country and reunite the people.
It was learnt that already, the President-elect is disposed to the zoning of the Senate presidency of the incoming 10th National Assembly to the South East to assuage the feelings of real or perceived disparity among the people.
A reliable source who craved anonymity told Vanguard that Tinubu has vowed to leave no stone unturned at ensuring that all parts of the country are embraced in his new government, regardless of their political inclinations in the last elections.
The source, a long-standing associate of Tinubu, further revealed that Tinubu’s cabinet will be devoid of lopsidedness or ethnic discrimination.
He added that it was one of the agenda to be discussed at the meeting with members-elect of the National Assembly.
He said Tinubu had already informed some of his proteges among the elected senators to start shopping for anyone from the South-East as the next Senate President.
‘Tinubu shopping for Senate President from S-East’
It would be recalled that despite the Labour Party’s “Obidient” wave in the South-East, the zone produced six senators from the ruling APC.
The source said Tinubu’s preference for a South-East Senate President might be made known at today’s closed-door meeting of the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Tinubu, his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima; APC senators and members of the House of Representatives-elect at State House in Abuja.
“For the balance of power, our President-elect understands that to have a rancour-free administration, every region must be carried along and the South East is very paramount to him.
“He has confided in us his commitment to support the emergence of a Senate President from the South East for the sake of equity, fairness and justice, thus maintaining the balance of power and a sense of inclusion.
“In 2015, the South East was told to blame itself for not voting for APC, which could have given them the Senate Presidency.
“In 2019, they said the South East had no ranking senator but in 2023, there’s no excuse because the South East, despite the massive votes they gave to the Labour Party still voted for six APC senators, some of whom are ranking lawmakers.
“Tinubu has fully committed a Senate President of South East extraction. I can confirm because he believes it is the right thing to do and the move will also calm frayed nerves in the South-East.
He also wants to prevent unnecessary spending, bad blood lobbying which might culminate in hijack of the National Assembly, as it happened in 2015,” the source disclosed.
According to the source, the President elect’s preferential candidate may be the Chief Whip and returning senator, Orji Uzor Kalu, who he said was a close ally of Tinubu.
Another issue the meeting is also expected to discuss is the zoning of the speakership of the 10th House.
According to the source, many ranking members of the House have already shown interest.
He stressed that there was a need to provide an acceptable zoning direction that would be sensitive to the religious affinity of the incoming administration, especially as Tinubu and the Vice President-elect, Senator Kashim Shetima, are of the Islamic faith.
Vanguard gathered that at the moment, five lawmakers are jostling for the position of the speaker without recourse to either religious sentiment or geopolitical zones.
Amongst the lot are Aliyu Betara representing Biu/Kwaya Federal Constituency of Borno State; Aminu Sani Jaji, former chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on National Security and intelligence in the 8th Assembly, who has been re-elected to represent Kaura Namoda/Birnin Magaji Federal Constituency of Zamfara State.
Also included is the current Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase from Plateau State; the current spokesman of the House, Ben Kalu and the Majority Leader of the 9th House, Ado Doguwa, who is currently undergoing trial for murder.
Gbaja tipped as Tinubu’s Chief of Staff
It was also learned weekend that the current speaker of the 9th House, Femi Gbajabiamila, a protege of the President-elect, representing Surulere 1 Federal Constituency of Lagos State, is most likely to relinquish his seat in the next assembly for the position of Chief of Staff (CoS) to Tinubu.
Gbajabiamila was initially considered alongside the Minister of Works and Housing and former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, who may be assigned another portfolio in Tinubu’s government.
El-Rufai/ Ganduje as SGF
Similarly, Vanguard gathered that Kaduna State governor, Governor Nasir el-Rufai, is being considered for the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF.
The choice of el-Rufai is, however, being weighed with that of Kano State governor, Umar Ganduje.
All the issues, Vanguard gathered, yesterday are expected to be tabled and discussed at the meeting, with the aim of securing the commitment of everyone to form a common front before the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly in June.
Tinubu’s support groups root for Betara as speaker
Meanwhile, the Network of Tinubu Support Groups in Nigeria has urged the leadership of APC to back the member representing Biu/Bayo/Shani Federal Constituency of Borno State, Muktar Aliyu Betara, for the position of speaker in the 10th National Assembly.
At a briefing yesterday in Abuja, the group said Betara remained the most competent returnee lawmaker with an unblemished track record of excellence, integrity, and diligence.
President of the group, Dr Moses Ikani, noted that Betara had excelled in all tasks in the National Assembly since 2007 and had a well-crafted agenda to address the plethora of challenges confronting the House of Representatives.
He said: “As things stand now, Nigeria needs a crop of new leaders, especially at the legislative arm of government which section 80-84 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 vest the power and control of public funds as representatives of the people.
“The legislature is a key democratic institution for political representation. So, to fix Nigeria, we will have to tweak some of its working parts by separating the gold diggers and power thirsty from those who truly want to serve at this level of leadership, and to accomplish this is to do away with mediocrity and clannish interest.
“Every true Nation must have a sense of purpose that subsumes all sub-national interest. We are yet to identify or define what our national raison detre is. Until it is more beneficial to be Nigeria than to be Ibo, Hausa, Efik, Yoruba, etc we will continue to suffer nepotism and misallocation of national resources.
“However, amid this seeming hopelessness in our polity, we found a highly resourceful parliamentarian in the Green Chamber of the National Assembly who is familiar with the challenges inherent in leadership at the Nigerian legislative arm of government. He is Muktar Aliyu Betara, the member representing Biu/Bayo/Shwa and Kwaya Kusar Federal constituency in Borno State.
“By our assessment, he did quite well, extremely well, taking into account the challenges— the enormity of challenges faced by the 9th National Assembly shortly after the inauguration in 2019 when he was unanimously elected as Chairman, of the House standing committee on appropriation.
“Muktar Betara is one individual whose capacity to complement the actions and policies of the executive as speaker of the House of Representatives would expeditiously guarantee the much-needed turnaround of Nigeria.
“A detribalised and cosmopolitan person, Muktar Betara is experienced as a team player whose contribution to nation-building has been applauded within and outside this country.
“Batera is a performer with well-crafted agenda to address the plethora of challenges restraining the House of Representatives from performing optimally as a major institution of democratic governance. ‘’He has been rated as one of the most successful members of the 9th Assembly in terms of parliamentary activities, and this success story resonated with his immediate federal constituency where his effective representation at the Green Chamber of the National Assembly is felt directly.
“He has proven that his foray into politics is solely service to humanity, hence his towering popularity among members of the National Assembly.”
Zone Reps’ speakership to north central, support Wase, APC told
Cham Faliya Sharon, a social commentator and ally of the Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Idris Wase also yesterday appealed to APC to zone the speakership of the incoming 10th House to North Central geopolitical zone.
He also urged the party to specifically give the position to Wase, who he said had been a loyal party man.
Sharon, who made the call in a statement he issued yesterday, said: “For any honest observer, as well as any good student of Nigeria’s developmental history, the party’s triumph at the polls is well-earned because the party’s achievements in office, especially in the provision of infrastructure and growth of local productivity, are unprecedented.
“These achievements are the result of the progressive collaboration and support were given the Executive branch by the leadership and members of the National Assembly who are major of the APC.
“With the party set to commence another journey of leading the country into another phase of development, and considering also that certain key national leadership offices will be zoned to respective geopolitical zones, it becomes imperative to call on the national leadership of the APC to, as a matter of principle and honour, zone the position of the office of the speaker of the House of Representatives of the 10th Assembly to the North Central geopolitical zone.
“If it does that, it should also kindly throw its weight behind Ahmed Idris Wase, the current Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, to become the next speaker.
“Zoning the office of the speaker to the North Central region and supporting Ahmed Idris Wase to occupy the office should be considered an exercise of recognition and reward for loyalty and sacrifice.
“Since the 2015 general elections to date, a significant section of the North Central region has maintained an unalloyed support for the APC, and it will be just and noble to appreciate this support and loyalty by ceding this important national office to them so that the party can expand and maintain its hold in the region.”
Sharon said that supporting Wase to emerge as the speaker would be a reward to dedication and loyalty.
“As a member of the House of Representatives from Plateau State, Ahmed Idris Wase has consistently shown that he is a perfect example of what loyalty and respect for the APC ought to be.
“Always toeing the party’s line on all matters, and having demonstrated his panache for excellent congressional leadership by the way he adroitly deputized the speakership of the current House of Representatives under the leadership of Femi Gbajabiamila, it is, therefore, easy to fathom that he can resolutely lead the next House to help the party achieve more wins for the Nigerian people.
“His loyalty and subscription to party supremacy came to the fore in 2019 during the contest for the speakership of the House when, in spite of having secured overwhelming support from the majority of members to elect him as a speaker, toed the party’s line by stepping down for Femi Gbajabiamila after the party decided that the position has been ceded to the Southwest.
“He marshalled the caucus to honour the party’s decision in the interest of peace, unity and progress of the party, and since then, he has remained committed to whatever will promote the party’s progress and stability. This is an act of nobility and sacrifice worth remembering and equally worth rewarding by the party.
“The All Progressives Congress, APC, should not miss the opportunity of harnessing this bundle of talents and faithful servant of progressive politics to implement its legislative agenda. Nigeria needs him in such capacity as speaker of the House of Representatives, beginning from June 2023,” he said.