Speakership: House Of Reps Won’t Obey Party Choice – Okwu | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Speakership: House Of Reps Won’t Obey Party Choice – Okwu

Posted: May 18, 2015 at 1:35 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Hon. Samson Okwu, representing Oju/Obi Federal Constituency of Benue State under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), tells journalists, including DAVID ODAMA, that despite the All Progressives Congress (APC) zoning arrangement, lawmakers, specifically the  now minority PDP caucus in the House of Representatives, will ultimately decide who emerges Speaker in the incoming 8th Assembly. Excerpts…

This is the second time you are coming to the House, people are now jostling for a new leadership, what role will you and your party play in the emergence of the new leadership?

Hon. Samson Okwu

Hon. Samson Okwu

I want say that I have been in the National Assembly since 1999 as a staff and later a special assistant to two senate presidents, and in 2011, I contested under the PDP and came to the House. If you remember there was struggle for leadership then and now the circumstances are different since we are in the minority. But I want to say it clearly that as minority we still have our numbers. We are about 142 members out of 360 and as minority, we are going to determine the leadership of the House of Representatives, especially the Speaker. We are determined to do that and we want to do it in such a way that we will choose leaders that will have support across party lines and will also look out for the interest of the country and members. It is no longer about APC or PDP it is about the House of Representatives and what is happening is not a different thing. By the time the 8th House is inaugurated we are going to elect a Speaker of our choice.

The APC has not yet zoned the positions; does that mean that you in the PDP will also abide by the APC zoning formula?

Well, let me say this: let no one make a mistake, the House has precedence and a scenario that happened in the House since 1999. The PDP then in 1999 wanted Salisu Buhari to become the Speaker, but he didn’t last because he was not the choice of the members, he lasted only two months and Ghali Na’Abba was elected. The same scenario played itself in 2003; the party wanted Hon. Hon. Matazu who was even a returning member but the members didn’t want him and they elected Hon. Aminu Bello Masari as Speaker. Similar thing happened in 2007 when Hon. Patricia Etteh was imposed on members, they accepted her but after four months they forced her out and Dimeji Bankole was elected. The same scenario or even worse than the previous ones happened in 2011 when PDP tried to impose Hon. Mulikat Adeola-Akande and we didn’t want her. So we brought Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal as our Speaker. If the party in power is thinking that things have changed, they will surely be proved wrong. It is not about the party, it is the attitude of the House of Representatives to always go its own way in choosing its leadership. If APC is thinking that members will abide by its zoning arrangement, the same scenario will play because we are all the same members and nothing has changed. It is not about party but about people. All along it is the House that has been playing progressive roles that Nigerians are happy with. We are going to do same thing, we will bring a Speaker that we want. We are not undermining any party but House of Representatives members will do what they want. Nobody should be deceived that the 2011 scenario won’t play itself again, it is a lie. Those who want to go and play cheaply to the public will say so, but I am telling you today that members of the 8th Assembly will choose the Speaker of their choice irrespective of the zoning.

Are you saying that the PDP caucus will team up with some of your colleagues in the APC as Tambuwal did four years ago?

The House Rules have not changed. It is not about political party is about who will have the control of the House and lead us right and protect the interest of Nigerians and not that of his godfather. If the party anoints someone we don’t like, we won’t abide by their zoning more so that we have the number to determine that. The way Nigerians chose General Muhammadu Buhari to become the president we will also do that.

Who then are you supporting for the Speakership?

We are solidly behind Hon. Yakubu Dogara as Speaker. And we are determined to deliver him come June.

What are your reasons for supporting Dogara?

We want somebody who will rally all members behind him. Dogara is that person who will protect the interest of members and all Nigerians. He does not answer to any godfather. He doesn’t take weekly briefings from a godfather who lives hundreds of kilometers from Abuja like a puppet. Dogara look at the 359 constituencies as his own constituency. Invariably we are transferring the demands of our constituents to him and we know he is capable of shouldering the responsibilities of the office of the Speaker. We want somebody who will be a team a player as a Speaker and know what to do to protect and the relationship between the executive and the legislature. We don’t want somebody who will be a rubber stamp. We don’t want somebody that will be controlled by a godfather. This is a Federal House and not a State House of Assembly. We cannot allow anybody like that to emerge as Speaker. The APC leadership should be cautious of this fact because anything the party does to undermine Nigerians we will reject it.