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Speaker: Abbas, Betara split opposition camp

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Contests for the positions of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the  10th House of Representatives have divided the coalition of minority members-elect.

It was learnt that while the ‘10th Assembly Greater Majority’,  a group of the minority lawmakers-elect, was backing a Borno State member, Aliyu Betara, a new coalition was supporting Tajudeen Abbas endorsed by the All Progressives Congress.

However, many lawmakers-elect are pulling out of the ‘10th Assembly – Greater Majority’, a coalition of Peoples Democratic Party and other minority parties with elected members in the 10th House.

The aggrieved opposition members, including those from Rivers State, who are loyal to Governor Nyesom Wike, are scheduled to launch a parallel minorities’ coalition to be known as the Minority Parties’ Forum on Monday (today).

The new development came as the 10th Assembly: Greater Majority, planned to unveil aspirants for the positions of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker in the opposition camp this week.

The coalition had on May 2, 2023, declared that it would ultimately field candidates for the offices of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker from among its ranks.

According to the coalition, the move became necessary due to the “discordant tunes coming from the stable of the ruling APC.” The opposition members-elect said they resolved to step into the arena, by offering credible and alternative leadership options, as there are 183 members in the coalition while the ruling party has 177.

The 10th Assembly: Greater Majority had consequently set up an 11-man committee charged with the task of short-listing, screening and eventual recommendation of aspirants within one week.

The committee is made up of Nicholas Mutu (PDP) as Chairman, Victor Ogene (LP) as Secretary, and Abdulmumini Jibrin (NNPP) as Deputy Chairman. Others are Oluwole Oke, Jonathan Gbefwi, Beni Lar, Ali Isa, Alhassan Rurum, Mathew Kuzalio, Salisu Majigiri, Nnabuife Chinwe, Gwacham Maureen, and Idris Salman.

According to Ogene, who spoke to our correspondent on Saturday, some members of the 10th Assembly: Greater Majority have indicated interests  in running for the leadership positions. He had also hinted that the opposition members might consider and adopt a candidate among the aspirants in the ruling APC.

However, a member-elect, Solomon Bob (PDP/Rivers), in an interview with our correspondent on Sunday, disclosed that some members of the 10th Assembly: Greater Majority were pulling out and launching a new group of opposition members on Monday.

Bob alleged that the 10th Assembly: Greater Majority was billed to adopt the current Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Betara, as its candidate.

Ironically, the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Iduma Igariwey (PDP/Ebonyi), is said to be leading the factional minorities’ coalition which is billed to adopt candidates anointed by the APC. An NNPP member from Kano State, Alhassan Rurum, will be the secretary of the pressure group.

The lawmaker said, “I belong to Joint Task – 10th Assembly; I don’t belong to the Greater Majority. In fact, they are the minor minority now, with the way we are going. We will form another coalition called Minority Parties’ Forum. We are launching tomorrow (Monday). It is parallel to that one, so that we will let the whole world know that there is one Minority Parties’ Forum.

“They cannot come and seek to monopolise the perception out there that the minorities are in one basket and they are (allegedly) pushing for Betara. We have steered the public perception, giving the false impression that all minorities are for Betara. That is not true.”

When asked about the leader of the new coalition, Bob said, “Igariwey is the one coordinating (the coalition) and Alhassan Rurum is the secretary.”

Responding to a question on why Igariwey would oppose Betara’s speakership ambition despite being deputy chairman and chairman of the same committee, respectively, Bob said, “Igariwey has not been with Betara from Day 1. Being deputy to Betara in a term that is ending is one thing, trying to usher in another term is a different thing.”

PUNCH

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