Hon. Chike John Okafor, re-elected member of the House of Representatives representing Ehime Mbano/Ihitte Uboma/Obowo Federal Constituency of Imo state, Nigeria has listed reasons why he is best suited for the position of Speaker of the incoming House of Representatives.
His party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, is backing Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila from Lagos state for the position but Okafor at a press conference where he said that he has thrown his hat in the ring said that it would be grossly unfair to the South East geo-political zone for the South West which already has the Vice President, the National Leader of the party and other choice appointments to add the Speakership to its kitty while the South East is left with nothing.
Okafor, who received a delegation of the Arewa Good Governance and Transparency Initiative (AGGTI) which visited him to call on him to contest the position, assuring him of the support of the northern bloc in the House, said it is in the national interest, in the interest of social justice, political stability and harmony in the body polity for the position of Speaker to be ceded to the South East zone.
He said it would also strengthen the sense of inclusion of the South East in the governance of the country, especially also, given that the South East is the only geo-political zone that doubled its votes from what it was in 2015 in the last presidential poll.
He also noted that apart from being a ranking legislator, his experiences as a former senior banker and a former Finance Commissioner which made him a member of the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee, of the federation, (FAAC) for more than three years, which gave him opportunity to interface with vital finance, revenue generating and economic agencies of the country like NNPC, Federal Ministry of Finance, Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Debt Management Office, (DMO), Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), FIRS, CBN, and of course the Finance Commissioners of the other 36 states, had positioned him to add value to the incoming administration.
As he was stating his position, however, 150 different women groups, operating under a platform called ‘More Women Campaign’, submitted a letter to the chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, calling on party leaders to support the expression of interest of Hon. Chief (Mrs.) Nkeiruka Onyejeocha and Senator Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu, who are vying for the positions of Speaker of the House of Representatives and Deputy Senate President respectively.
The group said that Hon. Onyejeocha (elected on the platform of APC) has acquired a great deal of legislative experience while serving as member representing Isuikwato/ Umunneochi Federal Constituency of Abia State in the House from 2007 to date. She is the current Chairman, House Committee on Aviation for the second consecutive term. In the just concluded 2019 general elections, her constituents, for an unprecedented fourth time re-elected her to continue to serve them, giving her the impetus to desire to take up the Speakership position for greater impact.
They also said that as current House Committee Chairman on Aviation, Hon. Onyejeocha has consistently supported the Transformation Agenda of the current Administration and has significantly contributed in bringing sanity to the aviation sector that was becoming a source of nightmare to Nigerians and a reproach to the nation at the international community. .
They said that Senator Oluremi Tinubu (also elected on the platform of the APC) was former first Lady of Lagos State and is currently a ranking senator representing Lagos Central Senatorial District. They listed her achievements and strengths, calling on the leadership of the party and the elected federal legislators to support the aspirations of the two female legislators, especially also in the interest of gender balancing.
Apart from literally presenting him to President Buhari during the dinner he hosted for House of Reps members elect as the preferred candidate of the Oshiomhole-led executive, the Lagos State Chapter of the APC has joined in calling on incoming Reps across the country to support Gbajabiamila to become Speaker.
Mr Abiodun Salami, APC’s Assistant Publicity Secretary in Lagos state, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lagos.
Salami spoke in reaction to the adoption of Gbajabiamila for the position by the party’s national leadership on Tuesday.
Gbajabiamila, representing Surulere 1 federal constituency, was re-elected for the fifth term and currently serves as the House Leader.
The APC’s National Publicly Secretary, Mr Lanre Issa-Onilu had announced the adoption of Gbajabiamila by the party in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.
He had stated that the party took the decision after extensive deliberations with APC House of Representatives members-elect at the dinner with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Banquet Hall of Aso Villa.
Issa-Onilu, in the statement issued shortly after the meeting, also revealed that the party had zoned the position of the Deputy Speaker to the North Central.
However, an APC House of Representatives member from Benue State, Mr John Dyegh, hours after the adoption of Gbajabiamila, also declared his ambition to be Speaker.
In his declaration speech on Wednesday in Abuja, Dyegh said he was out to serve the nation and that the North Central zone had been marginalised in the leadership of the House since 1999.