April 15 Supplementary Polls: 33 Reps Seats To Determine Which Party Nominates Speaker

Despite winning the presidential election and producing the majority of Senators in the 10th National Assembly, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is at least 21 seats short of an absolute majority in the House of Representatives.

The governing party needs 181 seats in the 360-member House of Representatives to form the majority and elect a Speaker.

The APC has secured 55 seats in the Senate, giving it a simple majority in the 109-member Red Chamber.…..CONTINUE READING

As things stands, opposition parties, who have won a total of 165 seats, are closer to attaining the 181 seats target than the ruling party in the race to determine who nominates the speaker.

Eight political parties were able to win seats in the House of Representatives in the just concluded National Assembly elections held on February 25, 2023.

While the APC won a total of 160 seats, seven other political parties won a total of 165 seats, five more than the ruling party.

For the opposition, winning majority seats in the lower legislative chamber would mean they get to displace the APC of chairmen of important committees.

And in spite of moves by candidates of the ruling party to contest for speaker, the reality is that they still don’t have a majority.

The Independent National Electoral Commission last week announced April 15, 2023 as the date it will conduct supplementary polls in elections across the states that were judged to be inconclusive. They include governorship election in Adamawa and Kebbi States.

Elections will also hold in 33 federal house constituencies, which will likely determine whether the APC or the coalition of seven opposition parties will hold the absolute majority in the House of Representatives.

So far, INEC has presented certificates of return to 98 senators-elect out of the 109 seats in the upper legislative chamber, while 325 House of Representatives-elect have received theirs out of the 360 seats in the lower chamber.

Also, the nation’s electoral body declared elections inconclusive in some of the senatorial districts and federal constituencies due to some factors.

LEADERSHIP Sunday however observed a slight but fundamental change in the pattern of voting which is alien to what was obtainable in the past.

According to the 10th edition of the House Rules book, Standing Order, voting shall be conducted only by electronic voting or by open ballot.

This is different from the rule as contained in the 9th edition House Rules published in March 2016 under the leadership of former speaker Yakubu Dogara.

Section 3 (f) of the 9th edition provides that “(f) When two or more members-elect see nominated and seconded as Speaker and where two or more accept, the election shall be conducted as follows: (i) by electronic voting or voting or (ii)Voting by secret ballot which shall be conducted by the Clerks-at-Table using the list of the members-elect of the House who shall each be given a ballot paper to cast his vote with the proposers and seconders as tellers.”

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But in the new 10th edition published in August 2022, the secret ballot pattern was deleted and a provision has been included to mandate an open ballot pattern. The new Rule also specifically provides that only the Clerk or Deputy Clerk to the National Assembly can conduct the election as against the Clerk-at-Table proviso in the 9th edition.

“(f) When two or more members-elect see nominated and seconded as Speaker and where two or more accept, the election shall be conducted as follows. (i) by electronic voting or voting or (ii) Voting shall be conducted by the Clerk to the National Assembly or Deputy Clerk to the National Assembly using the list of the members-elect with the proposers and secondary as tellers (iii) every member voting shall name clearly and in the open the candidate of his choice.”

However, just like what is obtainable with the 9th edition, a Speaker will be elected by simple majority votes; but in the situation that more than two members elect were nominated, seconded and nominations accepted, the member-elect who has received more than one-half of the votes shall be the speaker-elect.

Anyone who is a returning lawmaker is qualified to be elected as the Senate President or speaker. The standing rules of Nigeria do not allow a first-time lawmaker to be elected as Senate President or speaker.

In fact, the standing rules do not give room for any first term lawmaker to be given the office of a principal office nor a presiding officer’s office.

The Senate president is chosen in an indirect election conducted within the senate. The line of succession to the Nigerian presidency goes to the vice president, and then the Senate president, if both the president and vice president are unable to discharge the powers and duties of office.

The opposition parties that have won seats in the House of Representatives are PDP, which has 103 seats, Labour Party with 34 seats, New Nigeria People’s Party with 18 seats and All Progressives Grand Alliance, which won four seats.

The Social Democratic Party and the African Democratic Congress have two seats each, while the Young Progressives Party has a single seat.

On April 15, however, all 11 seats in Sokoto are up for grabs as elections there were declared inconclusive due to ballot snatching and over voting. But the most APC can get in Sokoto is eight seats in its search for a majority in the 10th National Assembly.

The election in House of Representatives elections in three federal constituencies namely, Shagari/Yabo, Gada/Goronyo and Tambuwal/Kebbe seems to be going in the direction of the PDP, with a massive lead prior to the inconclusive logjam.

But, the outcome of the state governorship election could likely have a bandwagon effect on the supplementary elections in affected polling units in the state.

APC is likely to retain Wamakko/Kware, Gudu/Tangaza, Isa/Sabon-Birni, Illela/Gwadabawa, Wurno/Rabah and snatched from the jaws of PDP, Sokoto North/South, Binji/Silame and Bodinga/Dange-Shuni/Tureta federal constituencies.

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With the likelihood of three House of Representatives seats or more in the kitty of PDP, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, himself a former Speaker, will surely have interest in who presides over the 10th House of Representatives.

Supplementary elections will also hold Akwa Ibom where two federal constituencies will be decided, Abak/EtimEkpo/Ika federal constituency and Ikono/Ini federal constituency. In Anambra, the party to represent Obgaru federal constituency will be decided on April 15, while the Southern Ijaw federal constituency in Bayelsa will also be in deduced.

Elections will also hold Edo, Jigawa, Imo, Kano, Kogi, Oyo, Rivers, Taraba and Zamfara on April 15.

Pro-Abbas/Gbaja Group In London For Tinubu’s Endorsement

Meanwhile, prominent members of the group leading the campaign of Hon Tajudeen Abbas for speaker have been in London for talks with the president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Although Tinubu is said to have travelled to the Holy Land, Saudi Arabia, leaders of the group led by the outgoing House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, had made efforts to secure the president-elect’s endorsement before he was said to have left the United Kingdom.

Aside Gbajabiamila, another leader of the group, Bunmi Tunji Ojo, chairman, House committee on NDDC, was said to have led about ten returning lawmakers to book appointment with Tinubu, albeit unsuccessfully.

A source close to the president-elect confided in our correspondent that the pro-Abbas lawmakers had spent almost a week in London.

“It is true the lawmakers have been in town(London) trying to see the president-elect for him to give them a clear direction on the issue of speaker but it has been a bit cumbersome for some reasons.

“But it has been made clear to them that Baba will not intercene until the party zones and clearer picture emerges. We don’t want to be involved at this early stage”, he said.

Wase Gets Backing Of 5 Governors For Speakership

Also, as the race for the speakership of the House of Representatives intensified over the weekend, the current deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ahmed Idris Wase, got the support of two key governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Before then, three other APC governors had supported his ambition to become Speaker of the House.

However, Governors Babagana Zulum and Dapo Abiodun of Borno and Ogun States respectively have agreed to support Wase when he led a team of 14 federal lawmakers, including freshers, to their respective residences in Abuja.

Both governors spoke separately.

Zulum said, “No one can take away your experience, competence and loyalty”, the Ogun governor acknowledged that Wase had “demonstrated party loyalty, commitment and humility as great qualities to lead the House of Representatives”.

As the APC governors spoke, former governor of Kebbi state, now re-elected as senator, Adamu Aliero and the Osun state governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke backed Wase’s aspiration.

Zulum who while receiving Wase said, although he was not in doubt about the ability and capacity of the deputy, the first struggle has to be how the position of speaker will be zoned to the north central.

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The Borno governor said, “We are not in doubt about your capabilities, capacity and competence; no one can even take away your experience, loyalty and commitment to our party.

“But let’s get to the first hurdle, which is zoning the position to the North Central and then we know what to do. Let’s pray hard so that we can fix that aspect of the race because I know the conversation is already on among us; I mean the governors. We will meet again on Wednesday to continue the conversation and Allah will answer prayers”.

On his part, the Ogun governor said he was abreast with Wase’s “high level of loyalty”, noting that the deputy had played very key roles alongside the speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, to bring about political stability.

“Your high level of loyalty and quality service to Nigeria in your capacity as deputy speaker to Femi Gbajabiamila has been key in stabilisi g the polity.

“You have demonstrated over the years that you are true party man, a very consistent personality and a true democrat and progressive having grown from the defunct AC, ACN till today; you never disappointed the progresaive family in any manner.

“Therefore, without prejudice to zoning, you stand out as a personality who deserves to be speaker to continue to contribute your quota to national development”, Governor Abiodun told Wase.

Also, Nasarawa State governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule had on Thursday assured Wase of his support ahead of the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly.

Sule had said, “I’m not just in support of the North Central for speakership; I’m fully behind you in your quest to be the next speaker of the House of Representatives. I’m leading and in the forefront of your campaign”, Governor Sule said.

He told Wase who led a delegation of about 15 federal lawmakers to his Asokoro Abuja residence on Wednesday said the issue of speaker of the National Assembly’s lower chamber should be purely on merit and not otherwise.

Last week, Governor of Ondo Rotimi Akeredolu and his Kogi State counterpart, Yahaya Bello, had also thrown their weight behind Wase, when he paid them a visit seeking their support for the top seat.

Meanwhile, Senator Aliero and the Osun State governor, Adeleke have assured Wase of their support after a brief close-door meeting at the former Kebbi governor’s Maitama, Abuja residence on Friday night.

Aliero, who addressed a handful of Wase’s colleagues after the closed-door meeting, said: “There is no reason for any of you to be worried; we just finished the ‘larger meeting.…..CONTINUE READING

“Myself, a close friend and neighbour as well as the governor of Osun State, just met with the deputy speaker and gave our assurances to support him for the position of speaker”, Aliero said.