9th NASS: Speakership candidates talk tough – Vanguard

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Our mission – Gbaja, Bago, Onyejeocha, Dyegh, Olatunbosun As the nation awaits the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly tomorrow,  the Speakership candidates, in various chats, unveiled their agenda and mission and remained upbeat on their chances of winning. Those who spoke were Hon. Nkiru Onyejeocha from Abia State, South-East; Hon. Jide Olatubunsun from Oyo State, South-West; Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila from Lagos State, South-West; Hon. John Dyegh from Benue State, North Central; By Levinus Nwabughiogu OnyejeochaI am unperturbed by endorsement reports – Onyejeocha “Why would I want to bargain for something else less than speaker? Why? I need to know. Do people go to bargain with running for speakership? That’s my first time hearing it. And if you know me, I am a very serious minded person. I don’t give in to frivolities and from my background, would I be playing anybody’s game? Will I be a stooge to anybody? The answer is capital no. I am very much in the race and as much as you can think of. On endorsements of Gbajabiamila “I am not worried about the endorsements. You know I am a politician. I can get endorsements and then go to the press and people will just be giving me endorsements. But does that translate to real votes? There is a difference between you and the ballot. I am not overwhelmed at all. There are some people who said they would win in 2019 even people that contested with me. Ah! Madam, nobody wants to vote her again. But what happened? So, there is a difference between what you do or say and the ballot paper. So, anybody can be endorsed and there is still time. Change is constant. Somebody who endorsed you today may change his mind tomorrow. So, I am not overwhelmed because I know that life is about change. People change their mind every time. “Somebody can change his mind even on the day of the election. There are places you would say you don’t even go there because they have already made up their mind. You will shock that because you came on that particular morning to say, you people are not voting me, let me go. They say, Madam, noo, no. It is just because of XYZ. No, we resolved last night that we are voting you and that’s it. I don’t think that anybody who’s serious will be overwhelmed by the level of endorsements or level of things people put up to the public. On APC changing their mind for Nigeria’s unity “I am a very loyal party member and I keep telling you that it is not over until it is over. There is nothing that will foreclose the possibility that the party will say OK, we have looked at the issues, we have looked at the rate of agitations and now, we have considered what would bring Nigeria to the next level and of course, next level is the maxim for All Progressives Congress, APC and I don’t think they will go back from anything that will bring Nigeria to the next level. So, it is all about the next level, inclusiveness, making people feel that they are part of this country. We need peace and all-inclusive government. Of course, the president promised Nigerian women that this particular time, he’s going to make sure that the women are included in his government this second and I believe that the party will by God’s grace change their mind and say what’s good is good and what is just is just. My agenda “There are so many legislations that will be my first priority. And of course, you know I have 7 points legislative agenda. I still maintain that. It is well thought out agenda and I will keep pushing for those agendas and one of which is that Nigerians must know who their parliamentarians are. They must know what our workings are. So that kind of perceptions they have about us must be eroded.” I am bringing fresh air into the contest – Hon. Jide Olatubunsun from Oyo State in the south-west geopolitical zone. “Why I am contesting? Let me start from the basics. Section 50, subsection 1(b) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) says the members shall elect from among themselves any member with legislative experience. So, I am the second timer and I am a Nigerian elected I to the House of Reps with a certificate of return. So, I am qualified to contest. That’s the first thing. “Number two, having considered all other perspectives, shades of opinion, I have what it takes. I can bring some fresh air into the contest. What do I mean? You are looking for a candidate that has widespread acceptability among his colleagues without having to induce them. I have friends across the political parties, geopolitical divide whether you are talking of northwest, northeast, southwest, southeast, south south and north central, I am at home with them. So, by popular demands, some of my colleagues told me Jide, come on, you can do it. Go ahead and run. “Besides that, I think, I can contribute a lot to the growth of Nigeria. We practice a presidential form of democracy with three arms of government. But this place called national assembly is the home of democracy itself. The legislature, we have a major role to play and the last four years, we have seen the happenings in our polity. We need to approach it from another perspective. Talking of how we relate with the executive, it has not been too cordial. I promise that if I come in, there will be no confrontation. I will be firm, defend Nigeria’s democracy and the constitution without necessarily being confrontational. There will be robust engagements. We will agree, disagree and agree. That’s the kind of leadership I will provide.” Also read: Speakership race: APC breaks silence on allegations against Gbajabiamila Honourable members-elect deserve respect, not to be treated like wares on national television-Mohammed Bago from Niger State, North Central zone “I want to thank all my Honourable Colleagues who have kept faith with what my aspiration for speakership represent i.e equity, justice and fairness, and for connecting with The BAGO plan. “No Speaker in the history of the house of the Nigerian people, the Green Chamber has emerged from national television parade. “We are Honourable members, matured representatives of the people who deserve to be treated with respect, not wares on display. We will not elect our Speaker on television but in the chamber, God willing on the 11th of June 2019. “I will continue to treat you with great respect and esteem because you have earned it.” Femi-GbajabiamilaWe have all the endorsements – Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila from Lagos State, South West Zone Thank you, new members. Let me quickly say, I have never seen such love, such support inside one group. God bless you. It has been a long journey but we are almost at the end. For these last three days, I self and Hon. Wase will be running and giving it the last push like our lives depended on it. We can see the finish line. That is why all these campaigns of calumny in the last two, three weeks, desperate campaigns. There is a saying that when you are running a race and you see the finish line and you are well ahead, any mad man or dog that bark at you, you can’t answer them, you stay focused and move you on. Your God will fight for you and you people here fight it for us and what that matters. One thing that we say is that truth is always a constant, you can’t bend it, you can’t shape it, you can’t rewrite it. Truth is truth let your work speak for you and that is what we believe with the support of you guys and by the grace of God that has gotten us to where we are today. So, we have gotten the endorsement of the President, we have gotten the endorsement of the party, we have gotten the endorsement of Nigerians who are not even members of the National Assembly but most importantly we have gotten the endorsement across party lines of members-elect of the 9th Assembly and the endorsement of all. I think what should be going in within the 9th Assembly is the mindset. The mindset to go and do what is good for the country of Nigeria. I have interacted with many of you individually and collectively and I know that your vision is my vision. I know what you are about and like what I see and by God’s grace, we will do things together, we get that place where Nigeria should be together. Also read: 9th Senate: My support for Lawan has no political attachment – Ifeanyi Ubah We need serious collaboration with the executive. I have been here in the last four years where there were discordant tunes, a disconnect between the executive and the legislative arms of government and what was the result of that disconnect? Stagnation, no movement. We were going around in circles, no traction, and they said when two elephants fight, who suffers? The grass and who is the grass? you and when you suffer your people who you represent suffer and when they suffer what happens? You return is very shaky. I am looking forward to a robust 9th Assembly. It is going to be the 9th Assembly of reforms and these reforms and these reforms are going to be positive reforms and it is going to pay you, it is going to pay your people, it is going to pay the country. You can take that to the bank and that, I promised you and I am somebody that make promises frivolously. It takes time for me to make a promise but when I make it rests assured, I am to fulfil that promise. We are going to be built on the gains of the 8th Assembly in such a way that Nigerians will actually doff their hat. I believe that is what is going to happen and I believe that we have what it takes. Between us, we have a cumulative experience of about 30 years. This is my 17th year in the National Assembly, this Wase’s 13th year. You will not buy that in the market. I have in papers where people said they have 190, people have declared for them and I say who are they? Where are their faces? What are their names? What location was the declaration? My mission– Hon. John Dyegh from Benue State, North Central zone My coming into this race is not by accident. I am well prepared and have a seven-point evidenced-based legislative agenda. This agenda is an elaborate work plan that when implemented will transform the legislature and repositioned it for better service delivery. And what does the evidenced-based legislative agenda sets out to achieve? With the evidence-based legislative agenda, we intend to ensure the enhanced capacity of Legislators and Legislative support services through training and retraining to enable the 9th National Assembly to pass National Priority Laws in critical sectors such as Security, Employment and Productivity, Power and Agriculture. The 8thAssembly has so far set a standard by passing the highest number of bills ever in the history of the legislature in the country. I intend to improve on this in the 9thAssembly if I am elected as speaker. The House under my leadership would improve on what the 8th Assembly has achieved and I believe that we can do. Thirdly, we will deepen oversight processes of the National Assembly to ensure value for money and project performance by MDAs in compliance with the Appropriations Act. My administration will also instil openness in the financial operations of the National Assembly to guarantee accountability, transparency and responsiveness. Most importantly, we intend to initiate Legislative measures and Laws that will promote and engender national unity, providing equal opportunities to all Nigerians irrespective of ethnic, political, social and religious affiliations; and work with Legislators in a multi-partisan manner for the stability of the House and Nigeria at large. We will also work round the clock to create effective collaboration with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Civil Society Groups and Development Partners for active participation of all sectors of the Society in the Lawmaking and Legislative processes. Then, we will sustain and deepen independence of the National Assembly and ensure the harmonious interdependent working relationship with the Executive arm of Government without undermining the principles of Separation of Powers. The independence of the House is very important so that lawmakers would be free to work in the interest of the constituents without any interference. We are ready to work with the executive but will not mortgage or surrender the role of the legislature to the executive. We will discharge our responsibilities in line with the provisions of the constitution. Like I said, our relationship will be anchored on mutual respect and compliance with the laid down laws. My insistence on the contest despite APC’s endorsement of Gbajabiamila “This does not in any way vitiate my loyalty and commitment to our great party. My loyalty to the party is not in doubt. I did the party’s bidding in 2015, in spite of the odds against us then. I worked for Gbajabiamila and supported him fully. But this time around, we are giving the party an option; we are offering the party and indeed members of the House a credible alternative to choose from. We are giving members of the Green Chamber an option to look at fair play. We are insisting that there must be fair play in Nigeria. We are insisting there must be fair play and justice in the Green Chamber. We have no quarrel with that. My loyalty to the party is 100 per cent. When I was doing the party’s bidding in 2015, everybody said I should go the other way, I said no let me do the party’s bidding. I am a party man. So if I am giving the party an option today, they should also look at what I did for the party yesterday. It is not in my character to disobey constituted authority and I am a loyalist of President Buhari and the party. You can see the emblem I am wearing on my chest is that of President Buhari. He has done very well in the last four years and I wish to join hands with him and deliver good governance to Nigerians in the next four years. I am not contesting the election to fight President Buhari or his government, but I want to complement his audacious and ambitious efforts to transform this nation. I am still contesting for the speaker because the zoning arrangement as announced by the national chairman of our great party is lopsided. It is not fair and that is an injustice; that is why we are giving the party an option. It is not fair because you said you are taking the speakership to the south-west but you have failed to give us convincing reasons why those of us from the north central should not contest. But we are saying the south-west already has the office of vice president and the north-central has nothing at hand. It will only be fair, if the position of Speaker is given to the North Central, having taken away the seat of Senate President to the North East. We do not have a problem with that. All we are saying is, if you are taking away number three from us, give us number four and not number six. But I want Nigerians and in fact, our party to know that the North Central has neither produced Speaker nor the Deputy Speaker since 1999. We are saying that reward in politics is based on what you bring to the table and the North Central brought the third highest number of votes in making President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term reality and enabling the APC to form Federal Government. We are not quarrelling; we are only appealing to the party to take a second look on its zoning arrangement based on the facts we have put before the leaders, perhaps they were not aware of this. But these are the facts on the ground. Most importantly, I want our party to also take a closer look at the provisions of Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (As amended), which states that: “the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies”. Does the present zoning arrangement conform to this provision?