The All Progressives Congress, APC, “anointed candidates” for the positions of Speaker and Deputy Speaker for the 10th House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas and Benjamin, on Thursday, met behind closed doors with President Bola Tinubu.
The meeting, held at the Presidential Villa Abuja, came on the heels of the inauguration of the 10th leadership of the National Assembly, slated to hold June 13, 2023.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, Abbas expressed optimism that he would be the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, while Kalu would be his deputy, come June 13.
He said that they were at the Presidential Villa to congratulate President Tinubu over his victory in the election and his inauguration on May 29.
He dismissed the insinuation that the 10th Assembly would be a rubber stamp, saying that nobody could manipulate the 360 members to make them do what will not be of national interest.
Abbas added that the independence of the legislature would not be compromised under their leadership.
He said, “My name is Hon. Tajjudeen Abbas from the National Assembly. And with me is my colleague, who, by the grace of God, come June 13, 2023 would be the next speaker insha Allah and Deputy Speaker of the 10th House of Reps of the National Assembly.
“You may recall that just two or three days ago, Mr. President, the reign of power was handed over to him on May 29. And since then, we did not have any formal interactions.
”We felt that it is expedient as the candidates of the party for the number four and number six positions, there is a need for us to formally congratulate him on behalf of all members elect of the 10th assembly.
“But that’s just the reason we’re here to basically congratulate Mr. President over his election and his inauguration as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”
Asked whether they had any discussion with the President on their aspirations to lead the House, he said:
“We didn’t have any discussion concerning our opponents who are also aspiring to be Speakers and Deputy speakers. We restricted our discussions to the matters of the day.
“Issues that have to do with the challenges that this country is facing, particularly the economic and social challenges and what he intends to do within the next few days, beginning with what he has done on the issue of fuel subsidy.
”Issues of other candidates did not form part of what we discussed with Mr. President this afternoon.”
On speculation in some quarters that they were anointed so that they will remain a rubber stamp to the executive, he said: “First of all, I would want them to go back to history.
”Let them tell us even in the few instances where the people who were ordinarily not endorsed by the government of those days have done better than the leadership of the ninth Assembly, which we all believe was about the first time in 12 years that the thinking of the members of the National Assembly coincided with the thinking of the executive.
“The ninth Assembly is by far and I say it with all sense of humility, the best National Assembly in which the legislature and the executive had a very mutually beneficial relationship.
”So many things were accomplished. So many things that ordinarily we would not have thought or contemplated would be achieved.
“So whoever is talking about the rubber stamp National Assembly does not know the workings of the National Assembly.
“Nobody, Speaker or Senate president, deputy Speaker or deputy Senate president, nobody can manipulate the 360 members of the House of Reps to make them do what is not in the best interest of the public.”
On his part, Benjamin Kalu said, “Yes, in addition to what the speakership candidate just highlighted, what we’re bringing on board is parliamentary sovereignty.
”Sovereignty that will ensure that the borders of the mandate of the various arms of government will be respected.
“But also recognizing that interdependence is key towards achieving any national objective.
”We’re going to ensure that though we are three arms of government, that we understand that we are one government.
”So the national objective of the executive, if it is what the people want, will remain the national objective of the legislature.
“We are bringing on board the impartiality of this man that just spoke to you now holding the gavel that will ensure that sentiments and emotions will not control the direction of the gavel.”
According to him, the policies they will come out with will be a reflection of the needs of the people of Nigeria.
“We’re bringing on board institutional trust that will make Nigerians believe more in the institution of our democracy called the legislature which is the fulcrum of our democracy.
”Because, the more confidence they have in that institution, the more we will advance this democracy that people like Mr. President have fought for from the days of NADECO to sustain up to now,” he said.