THE last may not have been heard about the race for the Speakership of the House of Representatives in the yet-to-be inaugurated National Assembly, as the outgoing Speaker, Yakubu Dogara of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has reportedly joined the race.
Dogara’s interest in retaining his seat was announced through a campaign launched in the social media platforms by his aides over the weekend with various posters tagged ‘continuity.’
Some of the campaigners have also created a hashtag #Dogaraforspeakeragain” which has been generating ripples in some section of the polity and on social media platforms.
In June 2015, Dogara defeated Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila by eight votes to emerge the Speaker of the House of Representatives on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) before switching party affiliation to the PDP.
APC leadership has endorsed Gbajabiamila as speaker and directed all lawmakers elected on its platform to vote for him and ensure his emergence in the election coming up on June 11.
All efforts to speak with the Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs to Dogara, Mr Turaki Hassan, on the development proved abortive as all calls and text messages sent to him were not replied.
However, one of the close allies of the Speaker and a returning member told Sunday Tribune in confidence that the project “Dogara for Speaker again” was real.
This came just as Sunday Tribune learnt in Abuja on Saturday that all might be now set for the endorsement of Gbajabiamila for speakership by non-APC lawmakers.
Findings revealed that a group of Representatives known as Ninth Assembly Progressives, comprising 64 non-APC members and led by a ranking and returning member, Honourable Oluwole Oke, PDP, representing Obokun-Oriade Federal Constituency of Osun State, will be meeting on Tuesday (June 4th) to endorse Gbajabiamila.
A member of the group told Sunday Tribune in confidence that the action became necessary in order to further deepen the nation’s democracy for the people to enjoy true dividends of democracy.
When contacted, Honourable Oke, confirmed the development but declined further comments.
In a related development, another leading APC contender for the seat from the North-Central zone, Honourable Mohammed Bago is boasting of having 195 members-elect who have signed for his candidature.
Findings revealed that the move apparently showed that the members-elect may have largely bought into the equity agitation from the aspirant.
Similarly, 156 members were said to have openly declared support for his candidature recently after a meeting at a location in Gwarimpa, Abuja.
Speaking on the current standing of the candidates, a member elect from the South-West told news men in Abuja on Friday that the current swing towards Bago might have arisen from a combination of factors, chiefly his brilliant showing at the interaction which the rival People’s Democratic Party(PDP), held for all the aspirants, including Gbajabiamila, at the Transcorp Hilton recently.
Besides this, the member elect who craved anonymity stated that “even within the ruling APC, Bago has so deftly sold his message that he is currently running neck to neck with Gbajabiamila for the signature of our party members.”
The member-elect also disclosed that the current crisis of confidence among top APC stalwarts is also working perfectly in Bago’s favour.
When contacted for comments on the new development, the spokesman for Bago Campaign Organisation, Honourable Victor Afam Ogene, stated that issues that have to do with members elect supporting Bago would remain closely guarded until few days to inauguration.
According to him, “You know this is a contest involving only 360 members as the electorate. So, we are focusing on those that would vote for us, instead of engaging in show-off trips.”
The speakership aspiration of Honourable Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, a House of Representatives member-elect from Okigwe South Federal Constituency, appears likely to threaten calculations for those in the camp of Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, a front runner in the race.
Reliable northern sources said many governors and elected representatives on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are favourably disposed to Nwajiuba emerging speaker.
The Imo State lawmaker, who left APC to contest on the platform of Accord, had recently called for a review of the zoning of the position to the South-West, urging the APC leaders to look in the direction of the South-East.
Although he left the APC on account of the running battle he had with the immediate past governor of the state, Rochas Okorocha, he has not left anyone in doubt about his for APC.
His aide, Chief Jimmy Isilebo, confirmed that the HCN Project 2019 was aimed at not just winning the Okigwe South constituency seat but also to make a solid aim at the speakership of the House of Representatives.
“There have been some strident calls for some time now, to fairly distribute elective and non-elective offices across all six geopolitical zones, and the case of the South-East zone has been the most harped about. Therefore, HCN’s aspiration to the speakership couldn’t have come at a better time than now.
“Being a one time member of the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2003, which makes him a ranking member, he is qualified.
“He is also a foundation member of the APC, and in fact the secretary of the Constitution Drafting Committee that produced the document which gave birth to APC.”