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Group urges APC to zone Reps speaker to South-East, roots for Benjamin Kalu



A coalition of civil society organisations, Civil Society Groups for Good Governance, on Friday urged the All Progressives Congress (APC) to zone the position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 10th National Assembly to the South-East.

The group’s National Convener, Dominic Ogakwu, who made the appeal at a press conference in Abuja, appealed to the ruling party to zone the position to the South-East for fairness, and equity,.

He stressed that only the South-East was yet to produce a Speaker since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999.

Ogakwu also recommended the lawmaker representing Bende Federal Constituency of Abia State, Benjamin Kalu, for the position.

At least 10 lawmakers are in the race to succeed the current Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila.

They include the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, Chairman, House Committee on Science Research Institutes, Olaide Akinremi and the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Defence, Makki Yalleman.

Others are Sani Jaji, Chairman of the House Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness, Abdulraheem Olawuyi, Chairman of the House Committee on Navy, Yusuf Gagdi, Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations, Aliyu Betara, and Kalu, who is the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs.

Ogakwu said: “As members of civil society, we hold the view without equivocation that equity and fairness demand that the South-East should produce the next Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“It is for this reason that we call on the APC, as the majority party in the National Assembly, to zone the Office of Speaker of the House of Reps to the South-East, not just to reflect the federal character and support a balanced power-sharing formula in the country, but also because the South-East zone has the potential and capacity for the office.

READ ALSO: Group writes APC chairman, demands zoning of Senate president to South-East

“There is a sense of alienation and marginalisation amongst the people of the zone by the APC, which, though we do not share, but agree as a legitimate concern. As a country that just emerged from an electoral process that is benighted by divisive tendencies, history beckons on the ruling party to demonstrate that it is inclusive, equitable and responsive to all parts of the country, particularly the South-East.

“It is urgent and imperative that the APC promoted the tenets of federal character by zoning the Speakership to the South-East and strengthening the cords of unity and peaceful co-existence amongst the peoples.

“Records indicate that since the return of democratic rule in 1999, the South-East geopolitical zone is the only zone yet to have the opportunity to produce a Speaker of the House of Representatives. The nearest the zone has come is Deputy Speaker between 2011 and 2015.

“For the avoidance of doubt, from 1999 to 2007, the position of Speaker was zoned to the North-West with Rt. Hons. Salisu Buhari, Ghali Umar Na’Abba and Aminu Bello Masari as Speakers.

“Also, from 2007 to 2011, the South-West produced Rt. Hon. Patricia Etteh and Dimeji Bankole presiding; and the North-West taking another chance between 2011 and 2015 with Aminu Waziri Tambuwal as Speaker and Emeka Ihedioha as Deputy. In 2015, the North-East produced Yakubu Dogara as Speaker. By 2019, it returned to the South-West again with the current Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila.

“As we stated earlier, our clamour for the speakership from the South-East is not premised on equity and inclusion alone, but because there is the capacity, ability and widespread consensus that Hon. Benjamin Kalu, is suited for the job.”

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