Lawmakers of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and their Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterparts in the House of Representatives are working to forge “an understanding” ahead of the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly, Daily Trust reports.
It was gathered that the decision for a working deal between the two dominant parties followed a meeting called by the PDP caucus in the House yesterday in Abuja.
Although the PDP lawmakers used the opportunity of the meeting to ask all aspirants for Speaker of the 9th House to outline their manifestos, it was learnt that its main purpose was to strike a deal between the two parties on how sensitive positions would be shared.
The leadership slots, according to those present during the executive session, excluded the offices of speaker, deputy speaker and House Leader.
However, some of the sensitive committee chairmanships are to be ceded to the PDP by the APC in line with the proposed agreement.
“This is to ensure that the PDP, the second largest party in the House, is carried along by the incoming leadership,” a source said.
Among the speakership aspirants who appeared before the PDP caucus at the meeting and outlined their policies if elected were Umaru Bago (APC, Niger), Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (APC, Abia) and the incumbent House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos).
On what appeared to be a clear reversal on the earlier stated position of the ruling APC with regards to sharing positions in the 9th Assembly, the Director General of the Femi Gbajabiamila Campaign Council, Abdulmumin Jibrin (APC, Kano), said the mutual understanding would be ready in 48 hours.
Jibrin said negotiation was ongoing for the APC to cede some positions in the House to the PDP lawmakers in the spirit of unity and common aspiration.
“On the issue of apportionment of responsibilities in the 9th Assembly, we requested the PDP to raise a committee to meet with the APC caucus in the next 48 hours to cede some positions to the PDP in the spirit of unity.
“The reality is that after winning the election, it is again one House. So, we have confirmed to the PDP that we will run an inclusive House, and we have commenced negotiation to see the kind of positions to cede to the PDP members,” Jibrin said.
Jibrin’s position was corroborated by the Deputy Minority Leader and spokesman of the PDP caucus, Chukwuka Onyema (PDP, Anambra), who briefed newsmen at the end of the meeting but insisted that there was “no deal yet.”
He said: “Everybody came to tell us why they want to be speaker; what they are going to do to improve the House and the relationship among the members. That’s the whole essence of the meeting.
“All the candidates who appeared before us said they know they can’t run the House without the minority parties, especially the PDP, against a statement credited to someone to that effect.
“We don’t have any preferred candidate yet; we are going to sit as a caucus, deliberate on it, analyse it and then come up with our position. I wish we could strike a deal, but no deal yet.”
The PDP caucus leader dispelled rumours that PDP governors had settled for a particular candidate, arguing that the onus of choosing a speaker lays not with governors but with the lawmakers who would vote.
An APC lawmaker said the deal has not gone far yet as PDP lawmakers were yet to make up their minds on whom to support, saying everyone needed to be carried along.
The source said everybody was being careful among the APC members in terms of making promises to opposition lawmakers.
However, another lawmaker said PDP members were trying hard to see what they could benefit from so that they would not end up with nothing after the possible emergence of Gbajabiamila, who is believed to be enjoying the support of the majority of lawmakers so far.
“The truth is that the PDP members are smart. They have seen where the pendulum is swinging, and they don’t want to be left behind. They observed that with them or without them, Gbaja is most likely going to emerge.
“So, they don’t want to be left behind in terms of committees’ chairmanship. In any case, there’s no way that they won’t get committees. APC won’t take everything. Definitely, some committees will go to the opposition, because we can’t take everything to ourselves,” the lawmaker, an APC member, said.
Yet another lawmaker simply told Daily Trust that consultations and meetings were still ongoing and that the coast would be clearer in the next few days.
Daily Trust recalls that Speaker Yakubu Dogara rode on the back of PDP lawmakers to become speaker on June 9, 2015 as a result of which he rewarded a lot of them with 45 committees’ chairmanship, out of which 20 were grade A committees.
Some of the grade committees Dogara gave to PDP in 2015 were the two petroleum committees (upstream and downstream), power, works, aviation, foreign affairs, health institutions, army, air force, FERMA, banking and currency, capital market, interior, NDDC, Road Safety, commerce, Diaspora matters, among others.
We’ll respond after meeting lawmakers – Oshiomhole’s aide
Contacted on telephone last night, the Chief Press Secretary of the APC National Chairman, Simon Ebegbulem, said the expected response would be provided after a meeting between the APC National Chairman and the lawmakers that struck the deal.
Simon, however, said that the lawmakers had ways of carrying out their activities.
“You know the chairman has not seen these lawmakers. Nobody knows exactly what happened. I believe if the chairman meets these lawmakers today, of course, they will brief him. Definitely, as lawmakers, they have ways of doing their own things in the House.
“When they meet the chairman, they will brief him properly to know what they are doing. But for now, one can’t say much. Until the chairman meets them, that is when you can get expected reactions to the development.”
Adams Oshiomhole had said on March 25, said the ruling party would not share committees’ chairmanship with the opposition party.
He said the party would ensure that all critical committees, except public accounts, which were constitutionally ceded to opposition, were chaired by APC members in the lower chamber of National Assembly..