- •Aggrieved aspirants agree on consensus candidate
Uneasy calm pervaded various camps angling for leadership positions in the 10th House of Representatives as the Joint Task Force and Unity Group were, yesterday, locked in two separate locations in Abuja to review their strategies, Sunday Vanguard learned.
But a source in the camp of the nominee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) leadership, for the speakership, Hon. Tajudeen Abass, disclosed that all was not well.
This came to light on a day President-elect Bola Tinubu returned to Nigeria and met an aspirant to the speakership, Hon. Ahmed Wase. Sources said Tinubu cut short his trip abroad to return attention to the crisis at the party.
Wase and another aspirant to the speakership, Hon. Muktar Betara, according to sources, are adamant about their ambitions despite the APC zoning arrangement that ousts them.
The source, who spoke about uneasy calm in the Abass camp, said: “We do not feel too comfortable with the political atmosphere. It appears there are several persons who are just mingling with us to show solidarity because of the position of the president-elect who they don’t want to hurt.
“But deep down in them, they are not for us. We are already beginning to know some of them, especially when Betara returned from Paris after his meeting with the president-elect.
“The poor attendance at Wednesday’s meeting of the Joint Task is a classical example of what is likely to follow and that means is that we need to work harder. That is the reason we are calling for a meeting to review our chances and give concessions where necessary.
“We need to review our strategies to know who is for us and those against us. As of today, no one, including our own Tajudeen Abbas, can boast of having the majority number among the members-elect”.
While both groups, Joint Task and Unity Group, are sympathetic to Abbas, who is also backed by the Speaker, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, one of the leading aspirants for the speakership, Hon. Sani Jaji, yesterday, vowed to expose the brain behind the leadership impasse in the House of Representatives.
Jaji said: “We know who is behind this impasse; he is a man with two faces, a man who has dual citizenship and who can dump Nigeria when anything happens to us.”
Meanwhile, Betara is said to have intensified his campaign after meeting with Tinubu in Paris.
According to a source close to the Borno lawmaker, the speakership aspirant had to up his game because he was pointedly told the option of retaining his Appropriation Committee headship was also not feasible on the grounds that he didn’t make up his mind in time, and that it had been used to placate Hon. James Faleke from Kogi State.
In a related development, a source within APC who claimed that Tinubu had to cut short his trip to France and return to Nigeria yesterday over the insistence of Wase, Betara and Senator-elect Abdulaziz Yari, who is vying for Senate President, to defy the party’s zoning arrangement, told Sunday Vanguard”. “The president-elect was earlier scheduled to return on, that is, three days away from now, Tuesday, but the National Chairman, Adamu Abdullahi, was said to have sent words to him on Thursday night that he was losing grip of the protests against the zoning arrangement.
“You know Baba is old and each day has been coming with one protest or the other. So he had to send words to the president-elect through his vice, Kashim Shettima, who equally briefed his boss.
“That had to happen especially when Speaker Gbaja was reportedly unhappy with the outcome of his encounter with Reps-elect at Transcorp on Wednesday last week as the meeting was attended by less than 80 Reps out of 113 that had appended their signatures.
“Funny enough, it was observed that some Rep members-elect were appending fake signatures to the Abbass list whereas they are with other aspirants. That itself calls for great concern.
“Now that he (Tinubu) is around, we believe things will be sorted out. I can confirm to you that Deputy Speaker Ahmed Wase just held a brief meeting with Tinubu.
“We know our (VP-elect) informed Wase of the return of Jagaban who also insisted they must go to the airport together and he did”.
Why I visited Tinubu —Wase
Confirming his meeting with the president-elect, Wase said there was nothing unusual about the meeting.
“It was a meeting between father and son; nothing unusual about it at all. As a father, our incoming president deserves the best information that can help him launch out well and strong.
“The details are not for public consumption but I can assure you that institutional integrity is about being strengthened by in president-elect in the days to come”, the speakership aspirant said.
G-6 meets Minority Caucus
Also, yesterday, aggrieved speakership aspirants under the aegis of the G-6 met with the Minority Caucus of the House of Representatives.
All members of the G-6, except Wase, who was at the airport to receive Tinubu, were present at the meeting which was held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
Soli, who spoke on behalf of the G-6, informed the opposition parties that the group had agreed on an individual as a consensus candidate for the speakership.
He, however, disclosed that the identity of that individual would be kept under wraps until the day of the inauguration to avoid establishment focus and monitoring.