By Abdullahi Isah,, Maiduguri
As the inauguration of the 9th Assembly draws nearer, a group, North East Women and Youth Initiative for Good Governance has thrown its weight behind the candidature of the South East for the Speakership of the 9th House of Representatives.for fairness, justice and equity
Speaking at a Press Conference at the Multipurpose Hall of Desert View and Suites, Maiduguri on Saturday, the Leader of the group, Alhaji Usman Bukar Zannah said “we are behind the South East geopolitical zone to produce the next leadership of the House of Representatives for fairness. equity, justice and unity of the nation.
“After due consideration and assessment of all possible candidates from the South East, we are convinced that Mrs Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, representing the Isuikwato/ Umunneochi Federal Constituency, of Abia State is by whatever criteria competent to take up that responsibility”, the group stressed.
The group said “we restate that we are solidly in support of southeast, the candidature of Honourable Nkeiruka Onyejeocha and urge all independent-minded members to endorse her eventual emergence as the new House of Representatives Speaker in a transparent democratic process.
*We also commit ourselves to champion her course across the entire northern region and to reach out to other relevant stakeholders and like-minded groups and individuals across the country as we see Mrs Nkeiruka Onyejeocha as a symbol of hope for women, hope for the younger generation, hope for unity and hope for the future,” Zannah added..
He also said “asides being a Right Honourable Gentle Woman which is also key as she could be a stabilizing factor, Mrs Onyejeocha happens to be one of the highly experienced legislators; an active member of the House since 2007 and a core party loyalist.
“Hon. Onyejeocha was responsible for several broad based motions that became bills including the Anti-torture Act 2017 (Presidential assent given on 20th December 2017), National Senior Citizens Centre Act, 2017. (Presidential assent given on 24th January 2018), Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshots Act 2017 (Presidential assent given on 20th December 2017.),” the group stated.
Other bills initiated by Mrs Onyejeocha , according to the group, include “the National Council of Traditional Rulers (Establishment) Bill, 2015. (HB. 113), A Bill for an Act to amend the World Meteorological Organization (Protection) Act, 2015. (HB. 271), Witness Protection Programme Bill, 2015. (HB. 132), and the Trade Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2017 among several other bills with far reaching import.”
Zannah said that to achieve their goal, “already, similar representations have been made by our coalition in Kaduna in the North West and Niger in the North Central with a solemn commitment to sustain the tempo throughout the remaining days before the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly.”
He said that like many other concerned Nigerians, they were dismayed and perplexed by the determined efforts of some political merchants to undermine the sovereign sanctity of the National Assembly and to set the country back in its quest for national integration and progress, by needlessly fomenting disaffection among the elected distinguished and honourable parliamentarians of the 9th Assembly.
The group said “We are specifically worried over the undemocratic, purported endorsement of Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila as sole candidate for the post of the Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives by, a conspiratorial section of the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) with the active support of one-time Lagos state Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“While we may not hold anything against Gbajabiamila as a person, we are nevertheless concerned about his brand of houseboy politics which at all times sways in favour of Tinubu’s unquenchable thirst for personal political ascendancy tainted by a tint of tribalism and unpatriotism”, the group stressed.
“We consider it a collective embarrassment for a people with the full mandates of their people as parliamentary representatives to tend to strip themselves of the capacity to independently choose leaders from amongst themselves.
“It will be the peak of disappointment if the coming set of our parliamentarians would give reason to believe that they are incapable of exercising the freedom to select their own leaders without prodding by self-serving outside influences.”, they further stated.
“We observe that there are underground forces that are driving these controversies and fueling tensions aimed at causing initial distrust among the NASS members with the attendant risk of making the next four years of President Muhammadu Buhari strenuous and setting the stage for the eventual breakup of the All Progressives Congress.
“We also note that the typology of the controversy over the selection process of the new NASS leadership and the dimension it has taken of recent, are a serious cause for concern to all well-meaning Nigerians and friends alike.
“We are worried that the leadership of the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari are failing to see the entrenched risk in the trap to get them to openly endorse the adoption of candidates drawn from particular zones to the exclusion of other zones of the federation with equal entitlement”, group lamented..
“If only for the sake of fairness, justice and equity, we strongly believe that the South-East is more eminently qualified for the slot of the Speaker of the House of Representatives in compliance with the nation’s federal character principle. And in conformity with the global poise on affirmative action, we strongly recommend that a female member of the House should be given the position.
“Asides being a Right Honourable Gentle Woman which is also key as she could be a stabilizing factor, Mrs Onyejeocha happens to be one of the highly experienced legislators; an active member of the House since 2007 and a core party loyalist.
“She is also a detribalised nationalist with an impressive record of honesty, steadfastness, prudence, patience and integrity to rhyme with President Buhari’s ideals,” the group noted.