Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, at the weekend, hosted aspirant for the House of Representatives Speaker, Tajudeen Abass, and members of his Joint Task team in their maiden consultative engagement to seek bipartisan support of the governors.
At the engagement held at the State House, Marina, Sanwo-Olu told the Reps members-elect that the incoming leadership of the 10th National Assembly (NASS) should reflect the diversity of the country, describing both NASS chambers as “people’s houses.”
The Governor pointed out that the race to fill the principal positions of the parliament usually involved fierce competition that would pit members against one another, but he said the objective for vying for presiding seats in the legislature should reflect the interests and aspirations of the people.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has a majority of members-elect in both chambers of the National Assembly and it is expected to form the next leadership. The party, also, recently nominated Hon. Abass, representing Zaria federal constituency of Kaduna State, as Speaker, and Hon. Benjamin Kalu, representing Bende constituency of Abia State, as Deputy Speaker.
The 10th Assembly is scheduled to convene on June 13, 2023, the same day lawmakers-elect will choose their presiding officers.
Sanwo-Olu, who said the unity of the country was more important than the speakership aspirants’ ambition, urged Abass and team not to take any member-elect for granted. He said Reps’ leadership should reflect the yearnings of the people.
He said: “This race to elect leadership in the House of Representatives should reflect the true federal composition and political diversity of the country. Here today, I have seen diverse political parties and representatives from all regions coming together to work as a team in electing the Speaker. I urge you not to stop at this; you should further deepen your engagement and extend hand of comradeship to every member.
“I have observed that despite having the support of the party, you are not resting on your oars and taking anything to chance. I urge you to ensure that your engagement is total, transparent and inclusive. Other aspirants are eminently qualified to do the same engagement. They are known to us and they will be brought to the room for conversation. Our wish is to ensure that the position of the party is respected and adopted on the Green Chamber when the House convenes.”
Sanwo-Olu charged Abass and his team to brace up for the task ahead, urging the speakership aspirant to bring his political experience and academic pedigree to bear if elected. The task before the next assembly, the Governor stressed, is to meet and surpasss achievements recorded by the ninth assembly.
This, Sanwo-Olu said, is the minimum expectation from the incoming legislative leadership to justify the level of the support received from the people.
He said: “I have read about Speaker and Deputy Speaker aspirants. Your pedigree and resume speak to excellence. I believe you have what it takes to lead the House of 360 members from diverse backgrounds, so that we can have purposeful executive-legislative engagement and bring about meaningful dividends of democracy to our countrymen.
“At the end of the day, your aspiration is not about you or your colleagues in the chamber but about Nigerians. The objective must be about joining forces with the incoming administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to make life better for the people, improve economy and strengthen security. Greatest good must be achieved for the greatest number.”
Abass, elected for the third consecutive time, said unity of the country and the House topped his agenda, noting that his teams comprised members-elect across party lines.
The lawmaker said the recently held general elections further caused more divisions within the country, stressing that President-elect Tinubu, whom he described as unifying leader, required to have detribalised Nigerians to be at the helm of affairs in the legislature in order to heal the nation.
He said: “Our agenda is to make sure the country is united to confront the current challenges. We undertake this task of leading the House to create a constructive relationship between the executive and the legislature that will be devoid of rancour. Where there will be differences, we will ensure issues are resolved through dialogue. Stability of the House is sacrosanct. We will heal the wound, particularly from various contestants in this race.”
Abass urged Sanwo-Olu to reach out to governors and other aspirants for the position for conversation that would make the election of presiding officers hitch-free. He pledged he would not fail the party and predecessors.
Hon. Kalu said the Abass-led leadership would project institutional trust in the 10th assembly, adding that the decision of the House would reflect the interests of Nigerians.
Leader of the Joint Task, Hon. Bello Kumo, representing Akko federal constituency of Gombe State, said the Abass-led leadership would not compromise the independence of the House.
The lawmaker said the team was not interested in just winning the election, but to have a peaceful 10th assembly.
He urged Governor Sanwo-Olu to speak to his colleague governors about the need to buy into the agenda.