Newly elected members of the House of Representatives on the platform of the All Progressives Progress (APC) on Thursday backed the ambition of Majority Leader Femi Gbajabiaila to become the next Speaker.
The group numbering about 164 said it was not right for the north to produce the President of the Senate and demand for the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives.
In a statement to newsmen in Abuja by the its chairman, Hon. Tunji Olabunmi Ojo and the Director General, Hon. Dunkwu Nnamdi Chamberlain, the Forum of newly elected APC members of the House of Representatives said it would be difficult for them to go against the wishes of the party and President, Muhammadu Buhari.
According to the forum, APC zoned President to the North, the Vice President to the South, Senate President to the North and now the Speaker to the South.
It added those from the North Central agitating for the Speakership were insincere as the north cannot produce the Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives at the same time.
The Forum said they expect all the APC elected members to respect the position of the party on the zoning of the Speakership as they are products of the party.
Their statement reads in part: “Every member of the party is a product of the party; the party gave everybody the platform to contest and apart from given platform, the party also gave assistant to members before, during and after elections.
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“So, it is expected that as a loyal party members, we are supposed to toll the line of the party and now that the party and Mr. President have spoken that Femi should be supported for the Speaker of the House of Representatives, we expect every party faithful to toll that line and support Gbajabiamila to emerge as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“We believe he has the experience; more experience than other people that are contesting the position. It is not just enough for you to bring out posters. Femi is very qualified, eminently qualified more than any other person.
“Let just forget about geopolitical zone, we are talking about competence, we are talking about Nigeria, we are talking about the interest of the down trodden.
“Femi would be able to articulate policies that would benefit the generality of the Nigerian masses to compliment the next level agenda of Mr. President.
“Right from the time it has always been North/South. The Presidency is zoned to the North, while the Vice President is to the South.
“Now Senate President has been zoned to the North and Speakership to the South and when it comes to the South we decide where it should go.
“Politics in this country is played along the line of North and South. North Central is North, North West is North and North East is North.
“So, the Speakership has been zoned to South. When we zoned the Presidency to the North, North West produced the President. So, for those talking about zoning, zoning in this country is done North/South.”
On how the forum intend to make impact in the election of the Speaker, it said: “Well, the Forum of the newly elected APC members has 164 Representatives, then we have members of other political parties that are also affiliated to this Forum of new members irrespective of their political parties.
“Some of them were originally APC but because they could not get ticket during the primaries to contest, they moved to other parties.
‘’So, we have the same ideology, they are just there because they went to look for a platform to contest. They are all with us in this struggle to make sure that Femi emerges as the Speaker of House of Representatives.”
They claimed the election of Gbajabiamila would prevent what happened in the 8th Assembly, where the policies of the government and that of the party were frustrated.
They said” “We want to ensure that what happened in the 8th Assembly would not repeat itself, where party loyalty was thrown to the dustbin. People went there to fight for their individual pockets.
“We are in this 9th Assembly to fight for the interest of Nigerians. Nigerians are suffering.
“How can Mr. President present a budget and for 7 months the budget was still being kept on hold – frustrating the good policies of Mr. President, frustrating the good policies if the party?”