A group under the aegis of Conference of Civil Society of Nigeria (CSN) has condemned what it described a deliberate and unwarranted smear campaign by some faceless groups against one of the contestants for the speakership position of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu.
Another group, known as Coalition of Northern Patriotic Front, South-west Professionals and Coalition of Arewa Youth Groups, had at a press conference in Abuja, kicked against the speakership aspiration of Kalu.
They insisted that the likes of Kalu, who is currently the House spokesman, do not possess the prerequisite qualities to man the House and should bury their ambition of becoming a speaker and be patient to learn the ropes and allow themselves to be groomed.
But briefing journalists in Abuja on Friday, Archie Isong, the national coordinator, berated the groups, saying that Kalu’s ambition has unbalanced a certain segment and rather than to focus on the core issues of competence, equity, balance, loyalty and leadership, they have descended into the abyss of mudslinging and bolekaje politics.
Isong, while describing Kalu as someone who possesses the credentials to man the affairs of the green chamber, demanded a retraction of the libelous statement.
He urged Nigerians of good standing to ignore rumour peddlers and know that a virile, strong and representative House leadership is in support of Hon. Benjamin Kalu as the next speaker of the House of Representatives.
“The race for the speakership of the 10th House of Representatives is serious business and not some monkey business as exhibited by an unknown and unregistered coalition of so-called Northern Patriots Front, South West Professionals and Coalition of Arewa Group.
“It is worthy of note that while the experience of the incumbent and outgoing speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, is a factor for his laudable performance in the 9th Assembly, his strong knowledge of parliamentary practice and laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria alongside other factors like external, foreign and local exposures played key roles to attain the greater heights being celebrated today. And the question remains ‘Are these found wanting in the leadership of Benjamin Kalu?’
“The only available response is NO! Time and time again, Hon. Kalu has demonstrated panache and know-how in the affairs of the House. His constituents can attest to the quality of leadership he has delivered to them since 2019 when he was elected. In the House, Benjamin Kalu is not lacking in experience.
“If truly what determines experience according to the House Rule is that a particular candidate must not be less than a tenure and that tenure means the register of attendance in the House will define whether or not you met the expectation of attendance in the first, second and third year of the House and the register is there to prove that among most candidates for this position from the South east, he towers above them.
“While other candidates form the Southeast for the Speakership were in court to determine their fate, Kalu was already holding the chairmanship position of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs and as the Spokesperson of the House this experience of four years is equivalent to experience received in any citadel of learning where you are awarded a degree in that field.
“Records bear witness that Kalu has a robust participation in various debates, through the number of bills and motions he has sponsored in the House. It is established that he sponsored one of the highest number of bills among the new members of the House with about 43 bills amongst which 2 or 3 have gotten Presidential Assent, while the others have progressed from one level to the other. This level of competence can only be fueled and sustained by experience and intelligence,” he said.