The Peoples Democratic Party caucus in the House of Representatives on Tuesday said that its members would resist any attempt to impose a Speaker on the House by any political party.
The caucus noted that the legislature was an independent arm of government, which must be allowed to elect a Speaker for itself as against a candidate imposed by a party.
Deputy House Majority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, who spoke for the caucus in Abuja yesterday, stated that lawmakers were “concerned” over ongoing moves by the All Progressives Congress to zone the speakership to specific geo-political zones in the country.
He spoke just as a member of the APC, Mr. Nasir Garo, advised his colleagues to remain united and support any decisions the party might take on zoning of political offices.
Ogor warned that the approach of the APC could be “counter-productive” by way of a revolt vote against the choice of the party for the position.
The lawmaker recalled that in 2007, Mr. Dimeji Bankole ultimately became the Speaker after members vehemently opposed Mrs. Patricia Etteh, who was then the choice of the PDP.
He added that in 2011, the current speaker, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, again emerged as a revolt vote against the preferred choice of the PDP to zone the seat to the South-West.
Ogor pointed out that the House had always opposed imposition of candidates because it wanted to decide its case by voting the “best among the best to be the speaker”.
He noted that while the PDP was not disputing the fact of being the minority party in the in-coming 8th Assembly, the members would not allow the APC to impose any candidates on the House.
Ogor cited “Section 50 (B) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended)”, which is very clear on how the Speaker of the Green Chamber should emerge.
“It does not say a political party should decide who will become the Speaker, but that members of the House shall elect from among themselves a Speaker.
“So, the Speaker is not a Speaker of the APC, but the Speaker of the House. The methodology of zoning they have adopted will lead to crisis if not carefully handled”.
The national leadership of the APC will hold a crucial meeting today in Abuja to review the party’s performance in the just-concluded general elections and possibly to decide on zoning of important political offices.
The meeting comes on the heels of speculations that the South-West and the North-East have been named as the two zones likely to produce the next Speaker.
But, the PDP caucus insists that while the APC will go on to zone the positions, the House will defend its independence by electing a candidate “who is the choice of the House”.
He added, “No party will decide for us who becomes the Speaker. We will pick our Speaker by ourselves”.
However, Garo, while cautioning his APC colleagues against playing into the hands of the PDP, argued that there was nothing wrong if the APC guided members on the choice of Speaker.
Garo, who hails from Kano State, claimed that the country was still growing politically and could not afford to jettison zoning.
The APC lawmaker added, “For me, Nigeria is not yet politically mature to jettison zoning. It is important that we carry every zone along, especially in the distribution of political offices in the land.
“The issue of zoning is very important and we should maintain it”.