— North Central caucus insists on producing presiding officer as Dogara’s men, PDP weigh options
Palpable tension appears to have enveloped the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as the North Central caucus of the party insists on producing the Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives.
New Telegraph reports that the zonal position of the party, ostensibly backed by five serving governors on the platform of the party may be made public soon baring any last minute change in plans.
According to Sunday Telegraph sources, four of the governors are from the North Central zone while the fifth is from the South West.
If unresolved, the implication of this development means that the current leader of the House and frontline aspirant for the Speakership, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila’s chances may be affected in what a competent source described as proxy battle against him.
Curiously, the defiant move by the governors and the North Central caucus of the APC is coming amid plans by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to work against any anointed candidate of the APC leadership.
According to a member of the APC National Working Committee, who pleaded anonymity, the plot of the five governors had leaked to the leadership of the party and that informed the reason the party’s spokesman, Lanre Issa-Onilu clarified that the position of the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole on the zoning of the Speakership was just a guide and not the final position of the party.
“Right now, we are battling with quite a few challenging moments, even though they are not unusual in politics. We are very careful not to drag Mr President into this matter and at the same time, we are not unmindful of the possible backlash a hasty decision could incur.
“For instance, even though it was agreed in principle that Gbaja should be Speaker, the manner in which our National Chairman let the cat out of the bag has generated some sustained but contained tension. I can tell you that five of our governors are not on same page with us, and not until such issues are sorted out, we may be ambushed by the opposition PDP.
“Last week, the North Central caucus was to issue a statement insisting on the position of Speaker but some of us had to plead with them to allow us do some internal subtle diplomacy which have been on since.
“Even though that action is put on hold, it is still very much alive and with support from the proxy battle from the governors for such my move, we can’t feign ignorance and rock the boat,” he said on telephone.
He disclosed that a discrete committee has been set up to liaise with the identified governors for the position of speaker to be given to Gbajabiamila. This is even as he said the pro-Yakubu Dogara group in the 9th House has mapped a strategic plan to ambush the APC’s anointed candidate for the position.
One of the options, according to him, was that a PDP lawmaker from the North Central may be nominated if more than two APC Reps clearly go into the race for the Speakership. Another is for them (PDP) to vote en bloc for anybody other than Gbajabiamila.
But Deputy Spokesman of APC, Yekini Nabena, when contacted, refused to comment on it, stating that he would only speak when it is brought to his knowledge.
He added, however, that everyone is free to take a position on the matter