The ongoing controversy surrounding the zoning of presiding officers for the 10th National Assembly has raised doubts about the prospects of Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila‘s involvement in the leadership structure.
It has been revealed that some northern leaders are unhappy with Gbajabiamila’s influence in selecting Tajudeen Abass as the next Speaker and Benjamin Kalu as Deputy Speaker.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), with the backing of President-elect, Bola Tinubu, had allocated the speakership position to the North-West region and specifically micro-zoned it to Tajudeen Abass from Kaduna State.
The deputy speakership was zoned to the South-East region and micro-zoned to Benjamin Kalu from Abia State.
Sources that spoke with Vanguard have reported that some northern leaders are dissatisfied with what they perceive as the imposition of Tajudeen Abass as the next Speaker.
The North has expressed its displeasure over the selection process and the perceived influence of Speaker Gbajabiamila in the decision-making.
The discontent among northern leaders has cast uncertainty over Speaker Gbajabiamila’s prospects for retaining his position.
The controversy surrounding the zoning arrangement and the perceived imposition of the next Speaker has created divisions within the party and raised questions about the fairness and transparency of the selection process.
The source said, “The last five days have been very instructive because the issues of public concern have just been falling on one another.
“Our first concern was when Vice President-elect Kashim Shettima had to arrange a meeting between the Deputy Speaker, Mr Idris Wase, and the president-elect.
“We consider that as someone playing a double game because we even learned he was the one who pressured Asiwaju to have an audience with Wase.
“Ever since then, a lot has happened and there is serious tension and anger in the North. It is as if the South-West is trying to impose someone on us and the people of the North hate that type of perception.
“For now, if we say we have the required numbers, we are deceiving ourselves because since the National Chairman made that remarks about our choice, Abbas, people are confused.
“I can tell you that what we have on Senator Godswill Akpabio’s side is less than 40 senators while about 73 are undecided especially those in the opposition parties.
“For Abbas, unless we break the G-6 alliance, the opposition may gather over 200 members-elect on their side because, by next week, if we don’t break them, we won’t be able to do so again because the opposition parties are determined to work against our party. For real, those who have made up their minds for Abbas in our camp are less than 100 Reps members-elect. I can tell you for free.
“The whole North is already painting us as if we from the North are betraying one of our own, Wase, who had served as deputy to Gbajabiamila.
“Deep down in us, we know Wase had been very faithful and loyal to the Speaker. But what do we do once the party has spoken?
“For now, we know that the president-elect has washed his hands off because there is enormous pressure on him from Yoruba leaders who have warned him to calm down on this speakership issue so that it will not look as if there is a North-South tussle.
“We know the number of traditional rulers who have called to discuss with us, including their apprehensions about the potential Chief of Staff who they claim is using his closeness with Tinubu to maltreat Wase.
“For now, the North has the feeling that someone from the South-West is oppressing a Northerner.”