The All Progressives Congress’ anointed candidates for the position of speaker and deputy speaker for the 10th House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, and Benjamin Kalu, respectively, yesterday met behind closed doors with President Bola Tinubu at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The meeting is coming on the heels of the inauguration of the 10th leadership of the National Assembly slated for June 13, 2023.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Abbas boasted that come June 13, he would be the next speaker of the House of Representatives, while Kalu will be his deputy.
He said they were at the Presidential Villa to congratulate President Tinubu over his victory in the election and his inauguration on May 29.
He also dispelled the rumours that the 10th Assembly would be a rubber stamp, saying nobody could manipulate the 360 members to make them do what would not be of national interest.
He said further that the independence of the legislature would not be compromised under their leadership.
Abass said: “My name is Tajjudeen Abbas from the National Assembly. And with me is my colleague, who, by the grace of God, come June 13, 2023 would be the next speaker insha Allah and Deputy Speaker of the 10th House of Reps of the National Assembly.”
On the reason for their visit, he said: “You may recall that two or three days ago, Mr. President, the reign of power was handed over to him on May 29. And since then, we did not have any formal interactions.
‘’We felt that it is expedient as the candidates of the party for the number four and number six positions, there is a need for us to formally congratulate him on behalf of all members elect of the 10th Assembly.
“But that’s just the reason we’re here to basically congratulate Mr. President over his election and his inauguration as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Asked whether they had any discussion with the President on their aspirations to lead the House, he said: “We didn’t have any discussion concerning our opponents who are also aspiring to be speakers and deputy speakers. We restricted our discussions to the matters of the day.
“Issues that have to do with the challenges that this country is facing, particularly the economic and social challenges and what he intends to do within the next few days, beginning with what he has done on the issue of fuel subsidy.
On his part, Benjamin Kalu said: “Yes, in addition to what the speakership candidate just highlighted, what we’re bringing on board is parliamentary sovereignty that will ensure that the borders of the mandate of the various arms of government will be respected.
“But also recognising that interdependence is key towards achieving any national objective. We’re going to ensure that though we are three arms of government, that we understand that we are one government. So the national objective of the executive, if it is what the people want, will remain the national objective of the legislature.
“We are bringing on board impartiality of this man that just spoke to you now holding the gavel that will ensure that sentiments and emotions will not controlled the direction of the gavel.
“We’re bringing on board institutional trust that will make Nigerians believe more in the institution of our democracy called the legislature, which is the fulcrum of our democracy.’’
On the aggrieved members, who have decided to go contrary to the choice of APC, he said: “This man (Abbas) has not slept for days, I’ve not slept. We’ve been going around trying to make sure that granted that the party has given us the platform is not conceding that it is sufficient for us to go to bed and sleep.”