10TH NASS: Opposition parties resolve to produce Speaker, others

•Say with 182 seats, they have a majority

•APC won 178 slots

National Assembly Complex, Abuja

HAVING won more seats collectively in the last National Assembly polls, members-elect from seven opposition political parties have resolved to “snatch” the speaker and deputy speaker from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in the 10th Assembly that will be inaugurated in June.

Following the conclusion of the elections, the APC won a majority of 178 seats beating the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, 114 seats; Labour Party, LP, 35; New Nigeria People’s Party, NNPP, 19; All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA,5; Social Democratic Party, SDP, 2; African Democratic Congress, ADC, 2; and Young Progressive Party, YPP, 1.

Put together, the opposition parties have 182 seats which is higher than APC’s 178 and enough to give them the simple majority needed to elect any member of their choice.

Going by the tradition of the House, the party with majority seats usually produce the speaker, deputy speaker, House Leader and Majority Whip.

However, buoyed by its numerical superiority in the 10th House of Representatives, the emergent minority caucus, which prides itself as “Greater Majority”, has resolved to go for the Speakership position.

Already, there are permutations to promote a Speakership candidate from the South-South geo-political zone, and a deputy speaker from the North-West.

Rising from an emergency meeting of the Minority caucus leadership held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja late Thursday night, the caucus, made up of seven political parties, stated emphatically that it was primed to contest the positions of Speaker and deputy Speaker of the 10th National Assembly.

According to a statement issued by Mr. Victor Afam Ogene, spokesman of the Minority caucus, the Constitution of the Federal Republic imbues every elected member with the statutory right to gun for any position, subject to the standing orders of the House.

Ogene continued: “Besides the issue of ranking, every member is entitled to run for the office of Speaker, regardless of political party affiliation.

“The All Progressives Congress, APC, or indeed, any political party for that matter, reserves the right to regale itself with talks about micro-zoning leadership positions in the National Assembly. But the overriding question remains, are such fanciful engagements binding on the generality of Members-elect? The answer today, tomorrow – and until our current constitution is altered to reflect that desire – is a big No.

“Issues surrounding this all-important question is easily resolved, in the case of the House of Representatives, by Section 50(1)(b), to wit:” There shall be a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves.

“While zoning is permitted, as an intra-party solution to the sharing of political offices, seeking to enforce such on the generality of members would be tantamount to affronting Section 50 of the Nigerian constitution.

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“Besides, political parties must not always use the National Assembly as guinea pigs for their zoning fancies. Why didn’t these governors summon the same courage, which they currently seek to flaunt, during the presidential primaries, by micro-zoning the presidency to a particular zone? If it was okay to say that the presidential ticket should go to the South, then I think they ought to follow through with that same template and propose, for instance, that the Speakership should go to the North.”

Vanguard