A plan to shock the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and produce a speaker from the opposition in the coming 9th National Assembly appears to have been uncovered.
There are also indications that the incumbent speaker, Yakubu Dogara, who is of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), may still be interested in retaining his speakership seat whilst keeping his game plan closed to his chest.
Sources told Daily Independent in confidence that efforts were on to sell a dummy to the APC’s anointed candidate, Femi Gbajabiamila, with a view to making him believe that opposition lawmakers were not interested in the leadership positions of the incoming House of Representatives and were willing to support his ambition in order play a comprehensive opposition.
According to one of Daily Independent sources, “If you can observe, Dogara, who is supposed to be working with some aggrieved APC lawmakers to defeat Gbajabiamila, has refused to take a definite position on who he is backing.
“APC members in his camp who are insisting on the North Central producing the next speaker have canvassed the support of the camp for ‘Project Fairness and Equity’ which someone like Umar Bago has espoused.
“Despite the withdrawal of Hon. Idris Wase from Plateau to become deputy to Gbajabiamila, Dogara has refused to give the green light to the only viable option from the zone, which is Bago.
“Apart from him, the next viable person is Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas from Adamawa who’s even ready to sacrifice his ambition for Bago.
“Many members in the camp, including PDP lawmakers, expect the speaker to call for a meeting where a particular person would be picked as Gbajabiamila’s challenger so that we can start the real work of poaching votes, but such didn’t happen.”
“I chose to respond to your questions because of a piece you wrote about ‘Dogara’s Indecision And The Choice Before His Men’”, he said, quoting a Daily Independent publication of April 28 on the speakership tussle.
Recall that PDP had in March disclosed that it would nominate its members for every available leadership position in the National Assembly, bearing in mind their constitutional rights to vie for them.
As a result, the party is said to have perfected a plan to have its members nominate incumbent Speaker Dogara as a surprise move to undo APC and its members on the day of election.
According to another source, “The party is ready to take its chances with Dogara as candidate, provided Gbajabiamila has another challenger from the APC, which will make the APC have a divided house and votes. And it will automatically give the opposition the upper hand and advantage of winning with a simple majority using PDP block votes.”
Asked if the recent endorsement of Gbajabiamila by newly elected members, many of whom are PDP lawmakers, doesn’t mean anything, the source disclosed that “it is part of the plan to make the APC and its preferred candidate lose their guards”.
He continued: “If things remain as they are with Bago or Namdas insisting on running and get nominated on the floor, then Dogara will join and some of the so-called opposition members endorsing Gbaja now will be the ones to nominate him (Dogara). It’s going to be a shocker to the ruling party and even APC Reps who’re still with him.
“And they will feel disappointed and betrayed because the expectation is that he should rally opposition members behind one of them to undo Gbajabiamila, because if there’s anything the current speaker dreads right now, it is Gbajabiamila as speaker”, the source added.
“The only thing that would save APC and Gbajabiamila is that a challenger from the party withdraws his nomination before voting would commence. Only with that can Gbajabiamila easily emerge without much skirmishes against an opposition candidate”, the source noted.
Currently, the PDP has a total of 122 members while the APC has 224, and other parties have 14. This, however, is dependent on the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling on Zamfara APC pre-election case which could reduce the party’s number by 6, bringing it to 218, if it loses.
As at the time of filing in this report, attempts by our correspondent to get reaction from Dogara’s office proved abortive, as calls and text messages to his Media Adviser, Turaki Hassan, were not replied to.