THE Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Doguwa, has stepped down for Tajudeen Abbas, the preferred candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in the contest for Speaker of the 10th National Assembly.
The National Working Committee (NWC) had while unveiling the zoning formula for leadership positions of the 10th Assembly in a statement on May 8, announced Abbas from Kaduna, North-West, as the party’s choice for Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Doguwa, seen as one of the strongest aspirants for the position of Speaker of the next House of Representatives, withdrew from the race at meeting of the Joint Task Group, held at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja on Wednesday, May 18.
Other aspirants who stepped down at the meeting include Abubakar Makki and Tunji Raheem.
Speaking on behalf of the other aspirants at the meeting, Doguwa said he will abide by the wishes of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“Don’t imagine that my appearance here is by accident. For those of you who are thinking you’re daydreaming, you’re not daydreaming. This is reality,” he said.
Doguwa, who is associated with the G7 Coalition, a group of seven Speakership aspirants who opposed the position of the party, expressed confidence in Abbas.
He noted that Kaduna State lawmaker was qualified with legislative experience to effectively lead the 359 members of the House of Representatives.
The APC National Working Committee (NWC) had announced Abbas and Ben Kalu from Abia State, as the party’s preferred candidates for the position of Speaker and Deputy Speaker, respectively.
In a statement signed by its spokesperson, Felix Morka, the party said it came to the choice of the duo after consultations with the President-elect, Bola Tinubu and other stakeholders.
Parts of the statement read: “The National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) met today, Monday, May 8, 2023 to consider reports of consultations and meetings held with the President-Elect, His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, other Party leaders and stakeholders on zoning arrangement for 10th National Assembly leadership positions.
“The NWC noted with respect the outcome of the meetings held between the President-Elect and the leadership of the NWC. The NWC called for further and better consultation with necessary stakeholders in order to assure the support of the aspirants to the National Assembly leadership positions and members of the Party nationwide.”
The party urged its leaders, members, and all Nigerians to continue to work for the peace and progress of the country during and beyond the current period of leadership transition.
The party’s decision has continued to generate tension among lawmakers seeking to lead the House when it is inaugurated next month.
The G7 Coalition, comprising the outgoing Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Idris Wase, Muktar Aliyu Betara, Aliyu Sani Jaji, Yusuf Adamu Gagdi, Miriam Onuoha, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, Sada Solo Jibia, and Makki Abubakar Yalleman, had sworn to back one aspirant from them to run against the party’s anointed candidate.
Gagdi, who is Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Navy, had insisted he would continue to resist any zoning by the party that is not in line with the political interests of the North-Central zone.
Gagdi said that imposition of Abbas on the party was an arrangement of the incumbent speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila.
“I won’t respect party supremacy when it is against injustice. Why am I elected in the National Assembly? I am elected to represent Nigerians and to ensure justice. Then the party that I seek election under its platform will be aiding and abetting injustice and you expect me to respect that supremacy?
“I have analyzed these things to you that even the deaf and dumb agree that there is injustice and then you are talking about party supremacy. What are they talking about? Have you heard anybody from the north central zone talking about party supremacy?
“Let them say it and see whether they would not sacrifice their political future in the north central zone. North central governors and elected officials met and what was their resolution?
“Even our governors are saying yes they are loyal to the party but yet justice has not been done to us,” he said.