AS the 8th National Assembly, NASS, is being inaugurated today June 9, 2015, it is instructive to note that the speakership race has been characterised by intrigues and horse trading which nearly divided the All Progressives Congress, #APC.
The polarisation climaxed as a result of the mock poll conducted by the party for both incoming members of the House of Representatives and senators. The aim was primarily to produce consensus candidates for the position of Senate #President and Speaker of the House respectively. Expectedly, the outcome of the exercise did not go down well in various quarters for different reasons.
Briefing newsmen in Abuja before the poll was conducted, the National Publicity Secretary of the Party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said, “ the aim of the election is to present sole candidates for the position of senate president and speaker of the House of Representatives.
“The party is trying to avoid a situation in which its law makers will be divided next Tuesday when the National Assembly election will take place. The party does not want the #lawmakers to undermine its supremacy. What we want do is to avoid crisis. We know there will be hiccups, but we will get through them.”
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After the straw poll was conducted, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, the outgoing minority leader of the House, emerged as the APC consensus candidate while another contestant, Yakubu Dogara and his supporters walked out of the meeting.
Gbajabiamila polled 154 votes while Dogara scored three votes even though his faction had denied participating in the poll.
Instructively, the minority leader’s total number of votes are below the required 181 needed to emerge as the speaker. He needs 27 votes more to get a simple majority to emerge as speaker.
However, the chances of Gbajabiamila emerging as speaker may be determined by the #Peoples Democratic Party, #PDP, lawmakers, whose votes could go either way. The PDP has 146 votes which can be used to determine who emerges as the speaker.
On the other hand, Dogara may not be as popular as the minority leader, but he is believed to have garnered support from his colleagues. He is also hoping to benefit from the assumed bulk votes of the PDP members. The PDP members have been supportive of the Dogara faction given its resolve not to succumb to party pressure.
Given how intriguing the race has been, all is set for surprises as there may be last minute shift in alliances.
From the above, if all APC members vote based on party directive Gbajabiamila will coast home effortlessly. But the challenge from the Dogara camp is strong and may alter the calculation of the Gbajabiamila group.
Written by Emman Ovuakporie & Levinus Nwabughiogu, for VANGUARD Newspaper.
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