Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Speakership: Gbajabiamila, Ogor, Dogara top list of aspirants

The tussle for the Speaker of the 8th House of Representatives has thrown up three notable lawmakers for the post that will be vacated in June by Aminu Tambuwal.

The lawmakers are a three-time returnee and former Chairman, House Committee on Customs, Yakubu Dogara; incumbent Minority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, and the current Deputy House Leader, Leo Ogor.

While Dogara (Bauchi State) and Gbajabiamila (Lagos State) are members of the All Progressives Congress, Ogor (Delta State) is of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Gbajabiamila, a four-time returnee lawmaker , was the deputy House minority leader till the end of the 2007-2011 term. He emerged as minority leader in 2011.

A lawyer, Gbajabiamila, is credited by his colleagues for his “oratory and erudite approach” to debates in the House, which gave the opposition loud presence in the outgoing session.

Dogara, also a lawyer, is reputed to be the “inside research hand and intellect”, who assisted many House committees to successfully conclude major assignments referred to them since 2007.

Ogor, though the deputy House leader, functioned more as the majority leader, helping to direct the course of debates for the PDP, whose sitting Leader in the House is Mulikat Akande-Adeola.

Investigations by The PUNCH on Monday showed that all three lawmakers had initiated contacts with many members and had set up campaign groups to actualise their plans.

Findings indicated that Gbajabiamila was originally considered to step into the position of the majority leader “naturally, “ with the APC assuming full majority control of the House after the March 28 polls.

However, he was said to have been pressured to vie for the speakership after it became apparent that the North would have the President (North-West) and the Senate President (North-Central or North-East).

A source close to the minority leader’s camp, said, “Gbajabiamila is the best material from the South-West in terms of legislative experience and House leadership at the moment.

“The South-West has the Vice-President, but since the South-South and South-East have shut themselves out in a way, it becomes necessary for the South-West to take up the speakership.

“The North has President and they will also take the Senate President ; so?”

However, The PUNCH learnt that Dogara’s backers want him to have the seat because the “North-East suffered marginalisation” since 2011.

One of his confidants in the House said, “Dogara sacrificed his ambition to be deputy speaker in 2011, which ended up with Emeka Ihedioha (South-East) assuming the seat.

“Now, it is his turn to be speaker. The North-East didn’t get key elective political posts since 2011, so if the zone produces the speaker and even the senate president, we are just balancing up the equation.

“In any case, the senate president is most likely going to be a North-Central position.”

Findings on Monday also revealed that Ogor, though a member of the PDP, was already reminding his reelected colleagues that the speakership was not a party position.

He said, “The position of speaker is about who has the knowledge of the job; not about a particular political party.

“It is not even a matter for zoning, which is not recognised by our laws. This is going to be an almost new House, which will require the administrative skills of someone like Ogor to manage without rancour.’’

Ogor’s backers made reference to 2011 when Tambuwal emerged as the speaker in defiance of the PDP, which had zoned the position to the South-West.

They argued that the House backed Tambuwal not necessarily because he was from the majority party, but because of his “experience, quality, leadership abilities and good rapport.’’

“These same factors were the reasons the House still stood behind Tambuwal even after he defected to the APC in October 2014”, another Ogor campaigner added.

When The PUNCH sought their comments on Mondy, Gbajabiamila and Ogor tried hard to avoid admitting the obvious.

They asked our correspondent to wait till the National Assembly would have reconvened after the governorship and House of Assembly elections.
Source: Punch

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