Shape of new House of Reps

Even before the March 28 Presidential and National Assembly elections, some analysts had listed it as one of the institutions to watch. True to that prediction, the House of Representatives is showcasing some interesting surprises.

It is the first time in 16 years that the chamber would produce such surprises. First, the Peoples Demo­cratic Party (PDP)’s majority status has been torpedoed by the All Pro­gressives Congress (APC). Second­ly, the earlier leadership projection has been altered.

In the last one week, a different air has been reigning in the House. While APC members are prancing the nooks and crannies of the Reps wing, their PDP counterparts are not raising their heads.

How the two parties stand

It is not far-fetched why APC Reps are trumping the length and breadth of the Assembly and their PDP rivals are engaging in the op­posite. The outcome of penultimate Saturday’s polls is the reason. Yes, some results of the House’s elec­tions are still locked in dispute. Yes, House of Reps election in some states like Jigawa is yet to be held, the result declared by the Indepen­dent National Electoral Commis­sion (INEC) so far givess APC a clear edge in the Chamber. Though INEC is yet to forward the list of the new Reps and the parties they belong to the National Assembly management, APC is said to have 200 members in its kitty. The total figure of the House is 360.

It is not surprising that APC grabbed such a whopping figure in the last election. Although PDP cleared all the seats in the South South, South East and had a good outing in Taraba, Plateau, Ekiti, Lagos and Benue states, APC made mincemeat of the ruling party in the North and several South West states.

Leadership contest

The grim implication of APC’s new status in the House is that PDP has lost out in the contest for the speaker, deputy speaker and other principal offices. Now APC ranking lawmakers are jostling for the cham­ber’s top offices . There is still uncer­tainty about the zone the speaker has been ceded to by the leadership of the party. The guess now is that, with the South East not electing any APC member, the two zones likely to produce the Speaker are South South and North East. In the South South, Hon Pally Iriase (APC, Edo) is considered a likely choice. Of the three APC members from Edo State, he is believed to have the backing of the state governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. Apart from that, he is seen as well equipped for the top of­fice having served earlier as deputy speaker in Edo Assembly and Secre­tary to the State Government.

In the South West, incumbent Minority Leader of the House, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila is tipped to vie for the number four office. He is popular among the Reps and is well respected in the APC circle. What may count against him, however, is that, he is from the same zone with the Vice President-elect, Prof.Yemi Osinbajo. Some are likey to kick against allowing both number two and number four positions to go to the same zone.

However, last week, some APC lawmakers from the North West kick-started the campaign for Gba­jabiamila to become Speaker despite that he is from the same zone with Osinbajo.

They hinged their argument on the need to pay the South West back for not only supporting Buhari but also ensuring that he won the presi­dency this time.

They insist that even though Gbajabiamila is from the same re­gion with Osinbajo, that would not change anything as Tambuwal, who is from North West, emerged Speak­er on June 6, 2011 even when Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sam­bo is from the same zone.

One of the lawmakers pushing for Gbajabiamila, said: “We want to pay them (South West) back. Look at what they did for Buhari. So, to us, one good turn deserves another. We’ve already commenced mobilis­ing for him.

“For those that will say he and Osinbajo are from the same place, that was what happened in 2011 when we elected Tambuwal as Speaker, so I don’t think that is an issue”.

For the North East, Hon Yakubu Dogara (APC,Bauchi) is likely to throw his hat in the ring. Currently, chairman, committee on House ser­vices, Dogara contested the speaker­ship with Hon Aminu Tambuwal. If the office is zoned to the North East, he is likely to get it even though some of his colleagues accuse him of arrogance. One virtue that cannot be taken away from the lawmaker is that he is brilliant.

The APC National Executive Committee (NEC) is expected to take decision on power sharing arrange­ment in the coming weeks.

Whichever way it goes, the outgo­ing Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuw­al will have an input in the choice of his successor. Right now he is said not to be averse to any of the people eyeing the top job.

PDP’s influence

Despite being relegated to the mi­nority status, PDP will still play a major role in who becomes the next speaker and deputy speaker. For any of the contenders to win the plum of­fice, he must garner two third of the votes of the 360 members. What this means is that the person must have the support of at least 240 members. APC’s figure is not up to that, so ev­ery contender must look the way of PDP to get the number.

To a large extent, that is where Gbajabiamila is likely to have a problem. He is not liked by many PDP members. In the build-up to the defection of 37 PDP members to APC and even after it, Gbajabiami­la had series of confrontations with key PDP lawmakers. Agreed, some of them like the Majority Leader, Hon Mulikat Adeola-Akanke, Dep­uty Speaker, Hon Emeka Ihedioha would not be returning to the cham­ber, the like of Deputy Leader, Hon Leo Ogor may galvanize other PDP lawmakers to thwart any move to elect Gbajabiamila as Speaker.

According to a PDP lawmaker, who pleaded anonymity: “Yes, we may not be commanding the figure we had in the seventh session but I must tell you that we will still de­termine who becomes our speaker. Gbajabiamila has always stabbed us, we will stab him back when the time comes. Nobody can take PDP for granted in that House, we will show them that we are not fools”.

What to expect

Like the receding session, the eight Assembly promises to be very co­lourful. The executive is likely to get massive bashing from the chamber. Although there may be a little shift from the way the seventh Assembly, dominated by PDP made life un­bearable for the executive, Buhari’s presidency may still be pummeled by the House. The tackle, this time, will be emanating from the table of PDP caucus in the House.

“We will reasonably keep the APC government on its toes. We will not be reckless as our colleagues from APC did to Jonathan, but I assure Nigerians that we will not keep quite when we see that things are not going well.

“ We have listened to their litany of promises , we will take them on those promises “, the lawmaker said.

The new Assembly will miss the like of Hon Mulikat Akande, for­mer Business and Rules Committee Chairman, Sam Tsokwa, Samson Osagie and scores of others who were known for either sustaining the rivalry between PDP and APC or guiding members on the rules of the chamber. With the surprises that came with the last election, the cham­ber will be dominated by new faces.

Of course, there are varied per­mutations, plots and expectations but what is obvious is that the House that would be inaugurated on June 4 will significantly differ from sessions before it.

Post a Comment