The Peoples Democratic Party caucus in the House of Representatives again clarified on Thursday that it had not endorsed any candidate for the position of Speaker of the 8th Assembly.
The caucus made the clarification just as it rose from a closed-door meeting at the National Assembly.
There was speculation on Wednesday that the caucus had endorsed Chairman, Committee on House Services, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, as its candidate for the job.
Dogara is an APC lawmaker from Bauchi State.
The PDP has about 139 lawmakers going to the 8th Assembly, a number seen by many to be big enough to produce any candidate it backs as the likely winner.
But the caucus reacted on Thursday that the report of it backing anybody was “hasty” and embarrassing to the group.
It said, “Such hasty and invalid speculation appears to have been given some mileage by the lone voice of one of our members, who recently expressed sentiments in favour of one of the candidates.
“We hereby unequivocally state that our caucus has not endorsed anyone for the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives.”
The caucus added that it remained committed to providing “viable opposition ” in the next House and would be guided by the “love for the Nigerian project” when its members would vote to elect a new speaker.
However, as the party caucus clarified its stance, some placard-carrying youths gathered at the gates of the National Assembly, drumming support for Dogara.
The youths, who called themselves North-East Unity Forum, made the appearance at the gates in collaboration with Nigerian Youth Against Political Sabotage.
‘Dogara is the right person for Speaker’; ‘It is the turn of the North-East and Dogara is our Man’, some of the placards read.
They urged the APC leadership to allow the North-East produce the speaker “in the interest of justice and fairness.”
NYAPS’ National Coordinator, Mr. Tony Obuah, addressed the youths, saying, “We have gathered here today in solidarity to give a sense of belonging to the people of North-East.
“To say that they have suffered so much and they need to be given the opportunity to feel accepted as bonafide citizens of this country.
“You are witnesses to the trauma these people have gone through and are still going through due to the Boko Haram insurgency.
“There has been increasing poverty in the North-East. Education is at its lowest ebb because of insurgency.”
Dogara is seen as the main rival to incumbent House Minority Leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, speculated to be the choice of the APC for the speakership.
There is yet to be any official confirmation by the party.
Gbajabiamila took his campaign to members on the floor of the House on Thursday as he embarked on a seat-seat lobbying of colleagues.
For much part of the session, he was not available on his allotted seat as he was seen most of the time discussing with members on the upcoming election.
On one or two occasions, his path and Dogara’s crossed in the chamber as both lawmakers intensified the search for votes.
A third contestant, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin, latched onto Wednesday’s comments by President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, that he had no anointed candidate for the National Assembly leadership seats, to promote his anti-zoning stance.
Source: The Punch