The coast appears clear for Tajudeen Abbas (Zaria Federal Constituency) Kaduna State to become Speaker of the 10th House of Representatives.
Two major aspirants – Aliyu Muktar Betara (Biu/Bayo/Shani/Kwaya Kusar Federal Constituency) Borno State and Yusuf Adamu Gagdi (Pankshin/Kanke/Kanam Federal Constituency) Plateau State – last night opted out of the Speaker’s race.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima continued their push for the All Progressives Congress (APC) preferred candidates for the National Assembly presiding officers at the weekend.
Betara and Gagdi met with President and the Vice President. The meeting was attended by Niger State Governor Umar Bago, a member of the Ninth Assembly. After the meeting the two aspirants dropped out of contention.
Shettima, in a house-to-house consultation to drum up support for Senator Godswill Akpabio/Barau Jibrin visited Senators Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Danjuma Godje (Gombe) and Adamu Aliero (Kebbi) yesterday, it was learnt.
The trio are believed to be the bulwark of support for the aspiration of Senator-elect Abdulaziz Yari for Senate Presidency.
It was also learnt that Wamakko, thereafter, agreed to back Akpabio.
Aliero gave condition that he will take a decision along the line of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
After yesterday’s meeting with President Tinubu and Vice President Shettima, attended by House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, the Tajudeen Abbas/Benjamin Kalu media campaign team announced that Betara and Gagdi had stepped down from the race for Speaker.
The campaign team said: “It is worthy to note that Betara and Gagdi announced that they stepped down for Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas today, Sunday June 11, 2023 after a meeting with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima.
“As of Sunday, June 11, Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas (PhD) has secured the endorsement of the overwhelming majority of members-elect across the eight political parties in the six geopolitical zones, and he is ready to compete on the floor of the House and take the mantle of leadership of the 10th House come Tuesday, June 13, 2023”.
Wase, Sada, Jaji urged to drop ambition
Shettima also called on other contenders in the race to follow the examples of their colleagues in the interest of the nation and the party.
The vice president told reporters after the meeting the President Tinubu was pleased with the gesture of Betara and Gagdi, who placed party interest above their personal ambition.
He said: “Right Honourable Betara and Right Honourable Gagdi, have graciously accepted to step down and endorse the candidature of Honourable Tajudeen Abbas for the Speakership of the Federal House of Representatives.
“The President was quite touched by their gesture because what binds us together is superior to whatever divides us, we’re one big APC family and together we shall…
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“We cannot thank them enough for their graciousness and we want to commend the roles played by the chief of staff to the President, by His Excellency, the executive governor of Niger State, by the leadership of the party, here represented by the Deputy National Chairman.
“I think our party members will breathe a sigh of relief, that with the two big elephants in the room, accepting to work as a collective, we believe that our house is in a very good shape.
“We are good to go and we will call on other candidates; Right Honourable Wase, Honourable Sada and right Honourable Aminu Jaji, to also see reason and collapse their structures with the Abass/Ben so that as a family, we can forge a better future for our dear nation”, Shettima said.
On Saturday night, 52 senators-elect attended a dinner at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.
It was attended by Shettima and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Senator George Akume.
The Stability Group announced that although 52 were at the dinner, the group’s membership is 72.
Some opposition party lawmakers that attended the meeting include Senators Abba Moro (PDP), Enyinnaya Abaribe (APGA) and Senator-elect Rufai Hamga (NNPP).
Senators-elect, especially from the North, are said to be fed up with propaganda that the region is at the receiving end of power distribution by the Tinubu’s administration.
Speaking at the dinner, Shettima said: “I am ready to beg my colleagues. I don’t want to mention their names but I am sure I will bring about five senators-elect from the other camp to join this group.
“My friend, Senator Ibrahim Geidam will give us all the Senators-elect from Yobe State. I am working on Taraba.
“Let me leave it here, I don’t want to expose all my strategy. I will take your permission to leave now because I still have consultations to make this night.”
The Vice-President also explained why President Tinubu chose Akpabio from Southsouth and a Christian as favoured candidate for Senate President.
He recalled the demonisation which trailed the APC’s Muslim-Muslim Presidential ticket and submitted that the Akpabio-Jibrin ticket was to give Christians a sense of belonging and ultimately promote national cohesion.
He added: “This gathering represents the Nigerian nation. Here we are with a Muslim President and Vice President in a multi-ethnic country like Nigeria.
“Justice and equity demands that the number three person must be a Christian. We must strive for inclusivity. This is a young nation where every community will like to be given a sense of belong.
“Politics is about perception, it is about optics. I want to appeal to you that the stability of the nation is greater than the stability of your pocket.
“We are talking about the sustainability of the nation. The country is at a threshold.”
Akume said: “This Forum appreciates the value of diversity. Diversity, if not well managed can lead to disaster. Societies have collapsed because they can’t manage diversity.
“Your focus is stability of the polity. With the number I have seen today, this is the winning team. I wish you the best of luck on Tuesday”.
Former Ebonyi State Governor and Senator-elect for Ebonyi South Senatorial District, Dave Umahi, told Senator Shettima that the Stability Group has 72 Senators-elect backing Akpabio who is the preferred candidate of the APC and the President.
Senator Akpabio commended the Vice President and the SGF for associating with his Group by attending the dinner.
He further explained that members of the Stability Group cut across party lines.
“We will continue to bond together. This is a group of friends, brothers and sisters.
“We have one thing in mind: Stability of Nigeria. We want to assure you that this is the way to go. I want to assure you, that we shall succeed on Tuesday,” Akpabio said.