Sixty-three members-elect of the 10th House of Representatives in opposition parties have endorsed the anointed candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Tajudeen Abbas and Benjamin Kalu for Speaker and Deputy Speaker, respectively.
The spokesman for the Coalition of United Political Parties, Ikenga Ugochinyere, who led 62 other members-elect in minority political parties, announced the endorsement in Abuja on Wednesday.
Ugochinyere, a member-elect representing Ideato North/South Federal Constituency, called on other speakership aspirants banking on votes of the opposition members-elect to contest against the Abbas/Kalu ticket, to withdraw from the race as votes would no longer be available for them.
Ugochinyere said, “It is on this note that I call on my colleague members-elect who are still in the race to stop and join the prefect of the class, Hon Tajudeen Abbas, to steer the ship of the 10th Assembly to beat the records of the other Houses in performance and achievement for Nigeria.
“Our common goal now should be beyond party and partisan politics and totally focused on Nigeria and her greater good. We want the best and we have selected the best and importantly, the selection is by merit.
“I do not speak for myself alone. I speak for the 63 like-minded honourable members-elect of the opposition family, who have agreed on a common vision for the 10th Assembly. We will transform into the TBK Group. Our 63 votes without any dissent or abstention will go for Hon. Tajudeen Abbas. In the coming days, Nigerians will come to know the identity of the TBK Group and will also feel our impact.”
According to the CUPP spokesman, Abbas possesses all the needed qualities to be the next Speaker of the House.
“He is enviably educated, has a Doctorate Degree and eminently and vastly experienced to preside over the affairs of the House. He is highly resourceful and is manifestly of unblemished integrity which has earned him respect amongst our colleagues at the National Assembly and obviously his party,” he said.
Ugochinyere also noted that with 43 bills in the 8th Assembly, Abbas had the 3rd highest number of bills, while in the 9th House, the speakership candidate has 74 bills.
He added that Abbas is the lawmaker “with the highest number of bills and that 21 of those bills have been signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.”
The member-elect representing Isuikwuato/Umunneochi Federal Constituency, a member of the Labour Party, Amobi Ogah, also stated that, “For the first time, we are trying to make history. I’m supporting Abass and Kalu not because APC picked them. Abass and Kalu have the capacity and competence.”
Ogah added, “The 10th Assembly will be a unique one if the duo emerges as Speaker and Deputy Speaker. I beg my colleagues to support the duo in the interest of National unity.”
Ahead of the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly on June 13, when presiding officers of the Senate and the House will be adopted or elected, several pressure groups made up of intra and inter-party alliances had emerged in the House.
The NWC of the APC had on May 8, 2023, released the zoning formula for the leadership of the 10th National Assembly, picking Godswill Akpabio (Akwa-Ibom/South-South) President of the Senate; Jibrin Barau (Kano/North-West) for Deputy President of the Senate; Tajudeen Abbas (Kaduna/North-West) for Speaker; and Benjamin Kalu (Abia/South-East) for Deputy Speaker.
Consequently, a group of aggrieved speakership aspirants, which includes the incumbent Deputy Speaker Ahmed Wase; Chairman of the House Committee on Navy, Yusuf Gagdi; Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations, Aliyu Betara; Chairman, House Committee on Water Resources, Sada Soli; Chinedu Ogah, Miriam Onuoha and Sani Jaji had emerged.
The 10th Assembly – Greater Majority, a coalition of members-elect in the minority parties has been meeting with speakership aspirants, while a splinter opposition-member group, Minority Parties Forum, aligned with the Joint Task – 10th Assembly and adopted the APC candidates earlier in the week.
The Joint Task – 10th Assembly is a coalition of members-elect of the APC and opposition parties rooting for Abba and Kalu.