- Deny endorsing any aspirant
Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Caucus in the House of Representatives, has described the zoning of the principal offices of the National Assembly by political parties as archaic and unworkable in the face of political realities in the country.
Instead of zoning such offices, the Caucus advised the parties to allow members of the National Assembly to pick their leaders.
The lawmakers also denied endorsing any aspirant for the office of the Speaker of the Lower Chamber, contrary to speculations in some quarters.
About six lawmakers are in the race to occupy the number four position in the country. They are: The Minority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos); Hon. Yakubu Dogara (APC, Bauchi); Hon. Pally Iriase (APC, Edo) and Burka Goni (APC, Yobe).
Others are Hon. Abdulmunmin Jibrin (APC, Kano) and Hon. Tahir Monguno (APC, Borno).
The leader of the PDP Caucus, Hon. Leo Ogor, told Nigerian Pilot yesterday, that ahead of the June 6 inauguration, the Caucus had not endorsed any lawmaker aspiring to become the Speaker of the House.
Ogor reiterated that they would elect a Speaker based on transparency, accountability and somebody who will protect their overall interests.
He said: “There is nothing like endorsing anybody for Christ’s sake. First, you know I am a returnee and I lead the Caucus in the House at the moment. I will tell you that there is no meeting with Dogara, neither have we started discussing anything with him.
“We are going to elect a Speaker that is going to be based on transparency, accountability and a Speaker we know definitely well that will speak for all of us. We cannot sit down and automatically endorse somebody. It is not done that way.
“Let me also point to one funny thing in the House. They don’t want a scenario where somebody dictates for them. You saw what happened during the Aminu Tambuwal era. It is not different. So, my appeal is to allow the House choose the candidate so that we don’t end up suffering the wrong candidate out of annoyance,” Ogor said.
On the allegation that some PDP Reps were aligning with Dogara on his aspiration, he explained that they have the freedom to associate with anybody they want as stipulated in the Constitution.
Commenting on zoning, Ogor admonished that the concept should be discarded.
He argued that the concept of zoning negates the spirit and intent of the Constitution, adding that members should be allowed to vote and be voted for.
According to him, “But what happens to freedom of association? This is clearly guaranteed by the Constitution. If some people happen to have a friend and he is having a function, do we bar him or her from attending such ceremony?
“I think people should be free to associate; this is a democratic dispensation and not a military era. So, I believe that people should be free to associate. They probably went there to hear what he has to say. But for somebody to sit down in his bedroom and say that PDP Caucus has endorsed Dogara or Gbajabiamila is totally not true.
“I have always emphasised that the concept of the ideology of zoning should be discarded. It negates the clear spirit of the constitution. The members of the House exercise that right to vote and be voted for. Let them get the best that will serve the overall interest of the House and we should avoid this concept that the position has been zoned to one particular zone.
“It is totally wrong and we should try and outgrow it. It is what I call ‘archaic politics’ of zoning. The concept of zoning violates my freedom of opinion,” he said.
On the aspiration of Gbajabiamila for Speakership, Ogor described the House Minority Leader as a wonderful lawmaker whose track records would speak for him in the days to come.
He explained that Gbajabiamila’s aspiration falls within the ambit of his rights.