Coalition of opposition lawmakers-elect endorse Abbas, Kalu
The chosen candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Tajudeen Abbas and Benjamin Kalu, for Speaker and Deputy Speaker, respectively, have received the support of 63 lawmakers from opposition parties.
Prior to the adoption or election of the Senate and House presidencies on June 13 to inaugurate the 10th National Assembly, a number of pressure groups made up of intra- and inter-party coalitions had evolved in the House.
Godswill Akpabio (Akwa-Ibom/South-South) was chosen as President of the Senate, Jibrin Barau (Kano/North-West) as Deputy President of the Senate, Tajudeen Abbas (Kaduna/North-West) as Speaker, and Benjamin Kalu (Abia/South-East) as Deputy Speaker by the APC’s National Working Committee on May 8, 2023.
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As a result, a group of disgruntled candidates for the speakership emerged, including the current deputy speaker Ahmed Wase, Yusuf Gagdi, chairman of the house navy committee, Aliyu Betara, chairman of the house appropriations committee, Sada Soli, Chinedu Ogah, Miriam Onuoha, and Sani Jaji.
While a separate opposition member group, Minority Parties Forum, joined with the Joint Task – 10th Assembly and approved the APC candidates earlier this week, the 10th Assembly – Greater Majority, a coalition of members-elect in the minority parties, has begun meeting with contenders for speakership.
Members-elect of the APC and opposition parties who support Abbas and Kalu form the Joint Task – 10th Assembly.
Meanwhile, Ikenga Ugochinyere, the Coalition of United Political Parties’ spokesman, announced the endorsement in Abuja on Wednesday with 62 other members-elect from minority political parties.
In order to compete against the Abbas/Kalu ticket, Ugochinyere, a member-elect representing Ideato North/South Federal Constituency, urged other candidates for speakership to drop out of the running because the 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.”