Lawmaker Benjamin Kalu from Abia State, a three-time ranking House of Reps member, is now favoured by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to become Deputy Speaker of the 10th National Assembly, sources in Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s camp hinted on Saturday morning.
Kalu represents Bende Federal Constituency in the National Assembly.
PBA gathered that the decision to slate Hon. Kalu for the position of Deputy Speaker was made official to the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC on Friday, May 5, 2023, the day he was to mark his 52nd birthday. The lawmaker was born on May 5, 1971.
“The configuration is concluded, everything will be ratified by the NWC on Monday,” a top member of the APC, who would not want to be named said.
“God has a way of giving me a special gift on my birthdays,” Kalu later told PBA Correspondent on telephone.
“I didn’t lobby for this; the Party has eyes and knows who did what,” he said when PBA posed a question on why he chose to run the second fiddle.
“Even though I had wanted to become Speaker of the House of Representatives, I will collapse my structure and support the decision of the Party; I had said I would never go against the decision of my Party,” he said in a telephone conversation on Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, the horse trading for leadership positions in Nigeria’s 10th Legislature continues, just as there are concerns that the ruling party is consciously ostracizing the Southeast, a major ethnic group in the country’s long history of ethno-politics, in the scheme of things, especially as they relate to sharing of political offices.
Perter Obi’s Labour Party (LP) won landslide in his Southeast region; followed by Atiku Abubakar’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP); while Tinubu and the APC came a distant third.
Although there are major Igbo contenders in the struggle to determine who and which geo-political zone leads the Legislature, power brokers in the ruling party argue that the Southeast did not offer substantial support and therefore does not deserve a major role.
Many of the Party’s members from the region disagree with the APC’s notion and policy of allocating national offices based on quantum of block votes during electioneering seasons.
Beyond the veneer of understanding between the APC hierarchy and its President-elect, inside sources say the National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, and other northern interests are also worried that going by Tinubu’s choices, the dominant North, which had held sway in President Muhammadu Buhari’s eight years, would lose meaningful control in all tiers of government – Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.
Reacting to the quiet disagreement over the manner political offices are ‘distributed’ by the APC led by Tinubu, another senior member of the Party said the National Chairman Adamu and the “powerful North” had no reason to complain; having held tightly to nearly 100 percent of public offices and leadership positions in all three tiers of government under President Buhari’s eight-year tenure.
Recall that Prime Business Africa had exclusively reported that Tinubu had picked Abass Tajudeen as Speaker designate and insisted on having Godswill Akpabio and Jibrin Barau as President and Deputy President of the Senate against the wishes of many.
Tinubu’s ruling APC had also acquiesced to his decisions despite the fact that it is the constitutional right of lawmakers from both ruling and opposition political parties to elect or select who leads them in steering the affairs of the Legislature in the next four years.
Tinubu’s victory in the 2023 Presidential election of March 25 as controversially announced by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) is also being challenged by candidates of the LP and PDP, Mr Obi and Alhaji Abubakar respectively. Both candidates believe that Tinubu and the APC did not win the March 2023 Presidential election and could have, in fact, come a distant third.
The Election Tribunal had slated hearing for Monday, May 8, 2023, the same day the NWC of the APC would be ratifying Tinubu’s choices for leadership of Senate and House of Representatives.