Idris Wase, Deputy Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, said that the zoning of leadership positions in the incoming 10th Assembly of the National Assembly is only advisory and not binding on members. He insisted that further consultation, taking into consideration the federal character’s importance and competence, should be used in choosing its leadership.
Wase, who deputises for Femi Gbajabiamila, the speaker of the House of Representatives, just came out with an official declaration of his intention to lead the house in the incoming 10th Assembly. He disagreed with the All Progressives Congress (APC) national leadership, which exempted the North Central geopolitical zone from holding any leadership position in the federal legislative body.
“I think if you read the letter communicating the proposal of the national working committee of our party, it never said it is cast in stone, rather they said these are people they have chosen—they used the word “advisory.” They did mention that there is going to be further consultation,” Wase said, responding to a question on how he felt when his party chose Tajudeen Abbas of Kaduna State of the North Central to lead the house.
Speaking on Channels Television’s Politics Today Programme on Friday, the former governing council member of the National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies in 2015 explained that the decision of the party to exempt the North Central zone was clearly unconstitutional and a violation of the federal character principle of the nation.
He said, “I also want Nigerians to be aware that the constitution is very clear that Section 14(3) of the 1999 constitution stipulates as amended that the composition of the government or any of its agencies should be carried out in such a manner that should reflect the federal character of Nigeria, thereby insuring that there is no dominance of persons or ethnic groups in that government or any entity.
“The main trust of that provision is to bring cohesion, national development, and peaceful coexistence. I want to believe that if you take the provisions of the constitution and apply them, you will now know that we have six presiding officers—two from the executive (President and Vice President), and then we have four at the national assembly.
“By providence and nature, we now have six political zones in the country, and each should have one presiding officer that should stand for it, and that is why it is a state consultation—yes; two, it is against the provision of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
He said that the party should listen to the voice of wisdom, especially after the zone supported the party overwhelmingly in the region.
“For the performance of the North Central, we are justifiably equipped, and apart from our contribution to the party, we believe that the party is listening, and our leaders are listening people,” he explained.
On whether he consulted with the speaker of the house over his ambition, the deputy speaker said that he had consulted with him.
“I want to tell you that, by God’s grace, I have consulted with him; we had a meeting in his house, and I showed my interest,” he said.
He added that his contribution to the development of the legislative processes in the house put him in good stead to lead the lower house.
He insisted that his devotion to the party and party discipline show how uncompromisingly loyal he is when it comes to issues affecting the APC.
“Two, in terms of party discipline, I have done my best, I am doing my best, and I will continue to do my best. In terms of protecting the interests of our country, I think I am number one.
“In any developed democracy, the first thing you do is look at their ranking,” he said, making reference to the American democratic experience, where they send in their best to represent them at the legislative level.