Dogara’s camp splits over suspected return bid
Speaker House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara
A big division has developed in the ranks of loyalists of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, following his silence on the group’s choice as the next Speaker in the Ninth National Assembly, TheCampaigner has learnt.
Dogara, who had said he was not concerned about who becomes his successor, was said to have neither adopted any of the aspirants in his camp nor declare his ambition to retain to the office.
But some members of the group have alleged that they suspect that the Speaker be nursing an ambition to return to his seat in the incoming National Assembly.
Members of his camp, which cut across the ruling All Progressives Congress and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, were said to have reached a consensus to field Mr Mohammed Bago from Niger State as their candidate against the Majority Leader, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, who the APC had endorsed for the office.
TheCampaigner had exclusively reported that the camp had narrowed their searchlight on two out of the five aspirants – Bago and Abdulrazak Namdas from Adamawa State.
One of the aspirants in Dogara’s camp, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, disclosed that while some of the Speaker’s loyalists had insisted on backing Bago against Gbajabiamila, others had resolved to join the camp of the APC candidate.
The lawmaker said, “The truth is that the way things are now, our group wants to produce Bago but it appears that the Speaker is still interested in the office. Our group is interested in Bago but he has refused to officially support Bago, two weeks after it was agreed that Bago should be our candidate. We are beginning to learn that there is another group the Speaker will use to contest at the last minute. This is now a very serious matter.
“Now, I want to support Gbajabiamila because with what we are doing (in the camp), we are not likely to succeed. Even if the Speaker contests, he is not likely to succeed. For now, we are only buying time.”
Calls made to Dogara on Saturday to confirm or deny the allegation were not picked. He had yet to reply a text message sent to him as of the time this report.
Dogara’s Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Turaki Hassan, refused to answer our correspondent’s questions on the ambition of his principal.
He also failed to respond to text messages sent to him.
Meanwhile, an aspirant to the Senate presidency in the Ninth National Assembly, Senator Ali Ndume, has said he is not considering any other leadership position.
Ndume said this in an interview with our correspondent on the telephone on Friday.
The senator from Borno State, who is contesting against the Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan (Yobe), stated that he would only quit the race if a consensus was reached between him, Lawan and Senator Danjuma Goje (Gombe).
Ndume said, “I have been Senate Majority Leader; I was the first Leader of the Eighth Senate before Lawan took over. Not that I was removed because I did anything wrong, it was because the party wanted Lawan to be the Leader. I agreed. They removed me and put Lawan. And now, they again want to say that I should step down for Lawan. You know that is not possible; that is not even fair.”
In a related development, APC lawmakers contesting leadership seats in the coming Ninth National Assembly may defy Oshiomhole’s directive that they should not work with the opposition.
Sources in the camps of various aspirants told TheCampaigner that the APC lawmakers were lobbying members of the Peoples Democratic Party and other opposition parties to get their votes in the leadership elections.
An aspirant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had reached an agreement with the PDP and other opposition lawmakers.
The senator said, “I cannot give you more information other than the fact that the floor is now open. The party has said we can consult with the PDP; even Ahmad Lawan is consulting with the PDP. I will leave it at that.”
When contacted on his campaign strategy, a deputy Senate presidential aspirant, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, said opposition lawmakers would be fairly treated under his leadership.
He said, “Even though I am of the APC extraction, I am seeking to become the Deputy Senate President of the entire Senate. What that means is that I have to work with everybody. The goal is to create an enabling environment in the Senate for everybody, irrespective of party platforms, to operate as co-equals.
“People need to understand that the Senate President and Deputy Senate President are only first among equals. We are all equals and represent different senatorial districts.”
Another deputy Senate presidential aspirant, Senator Ajayi Boroffice, has also intensified his campaign to woo both returning and newly-elected senators.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology had written to senators-elect to seek their support.