The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress, APC over the leadership of the 9th National Assembly on Wednesday got worsened as Nkieruka Onyejeocha, another member of the party deferred its earlier zoning and declared to contest for the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
APC last wek zoned the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the forthcoming National Assembly to the South West and endorsed Femi Gbajabiamila for the position against the wishes of other members of the party especially those who are also vying for the position.
One of such Members is Nkieruka Onyejeocha, Member Representing Isuikwuta/Umunneochi Federal Constituency of Abia State who asked the party to rescind its zoning decision to South West and called on Gbajabiamila, the anointed candidate o withdraw from the race.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, Onyejeocha said, “Iam appealing to them that it is not yet late to rescind their decision to include a woman to clip the two geopolitical zones that were left out ab initio. Also the leader of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, there is time in somebody’s life that any leader should make sacrifice and that time is now for the leader of my party, and the leader of the 8th Assembly.
“He was Minority Leader and now Majority Leader, and so he is a leader in all rights and this opportunity comes once in a leader’s time when a leader will look at self and said it not about me, it is about Nigeria and Nigeria need healing and I think somebody has to pay sacrifice. Even if it means conceding that, let Speakership move to another zone so that the country will move forward”, she stressed.
According to her, “I know that my party has stated indications as to how it would like to see the distribution of key National Assembly leadership positions, it is however important to point out the concerns of my people of the South East Geo-Political Zone. We are worried that an inequitable distribution of presiding officers’ positions in the National Assembly, would exacerbate the current deep divides in the country, worsen the sense of marginalization of the South East in Nigeria and create a lopsidedness in the distribution of the top 6 positions in the country.
“With the North West and South West already taking the first two most important political positions in the country, of President and Vice-President, it would be equitable that the next four positions of Senate President, Speaker, Deputy Senate President and Deputy Speaker, be shared equitably among the remaining four geo-political zone of North East, North Central, South East and South South.
“The message from my people of the South East geo-political zone of Nigeria, is that they demand equity in representation.
“I also think that as a woman, who has distinguished herself and contributed immensely to the development of Nigeria and to the good political and electoral fortunes of my party, the APC, in the South East, leading to our emergence as the party of choice at the national level, the APC should use the opportunity of my expression of interest in the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives to fulfill its promise to Nigerians, that it would increase women participation in the governance of the country”.
On her qualification, Onyejeocha said, “In my over 11 years of being a Member of the House of Representatives, I have served my Constituents and Nigeria diligently and with distinction. I have sponsored several motions and bills, conducted oversight over multiple activities and initiatives of government, ministries, departments and agencies and helped deliver meaningful constituency projects to the people of Isuikwuato/Umunneochi Federal Constituency of Abia State that I represent.
“I have chaired very important Committees of the House of Representatives, including the Committees of Aviation and Women in Parliament. As the Chairperson of the Aviation Committee of the House for two Sessions now, I oversighted the successful building of the New International Airport Terminal in Abuja, as well as the remodeling and renovation of several other airports and runways across the country.
“I believe that I am very well equipped with knowledge, experience and the integrity needed to manage bigger responsibilities. It is in the light of this, that I Offer myself for consideration by my Colleagues for A higher responsibility as a Presiding Officer and Speaker of the House of Representatives of the 9th National Assembly”.
Reeling out her blueprint, the fourth term Member promised, “improved Communications with the General Public, improved Internal Communications and Members Relationships and doption of a Legislative Agenda with clear framework for compliance and monitoring, improved Law making,
and conclusion of outstanding Priority Bills from the 8th House of Representatives.
“A number of key reform bills were proposed, considered and passed in the 8th House of Representatives. Chief amongst them are the constitution amendment bills which contained significant amendments such as financial independence for our counterpart in the States i.e. State Assemblies. The successful adoption of these laws and their assent into law was indeed a milestone moment for the 8th Assembly, unfortunately, a number of some other constitution amendments were not assented to while some other key reform bills were not concluded or adopted by the 8th House with its term running out.
“These include bills such as: the Police Reform Bill, Petroleum Industry and Governance Bill (PIGB), Universal Basic Education Act amendment bill, the National Assembly Budget and Research Office (NABRO) Bill, Audit Bill, Witness Protection Programme Bill etc. There were also many bills touching on security, employment, improvement of the business environment, etc. that were either not concluded or vetoed. I will work to ensure that these bills are revisited.
“Improved legislative oversight: Oversight is an important duty and power we have been given by the Constitution. Our oversight of executive programmes and activities is acknowledged by all as being critical to effective performance and good governance in Nigeria. While I believe the 8th NASS accomplished a lot with respect to oversight, more work needs to be done. For instance, our experience as members has been that often times, we have not performed this role optimally due to our “self-censorship” in other to avoid rocking the boat.
“Strengthened House Committees and Processes.
If I am elected as Speaker, I would work collectively with my fellow members to ensure that our committees’ structure and processes are strengthened for better effectiveness and optimum delivery. I will begin by ensuring that members’ assignment to committees is based on competence, strength and knowledge, taking into cognisance their interest and appreciation of the subject matter or committee’s jurisdiction and their willingness to apply themselves to the task at hand. I will also work with members and the bureaucracy to ensure that Clerks and Committees are well matched, so that their skills are mutually reinforcing.
“To ensure that our chamber is truly a modern-day chamber; one that is comparable to other parliaments in advanced democracies, I will pursue the use of ICT in the daily conduct of legislative activities of the House, including developing the e-parliament platform that was promised in the 8th Assembly Legislative Agenda, but not fully delivered. I will aim to achieve an efficient and electronically based chamber that meets the expectation of members, staff and is in line with international standards”.
James Kwen, Abuja