Leke Baiyewu, Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis and Tope Omogbolagun
Ahead of the zoning of the 10th National Assembly leadership by the All Progressives Congress, a leading aspirant for the Speaker seat, Aliyu Berata, has met with the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, behind closed doors.
Betara, who is representing Biu/Bayo/Shani/Kwaya Kusar Federal Constituency in Borno State, met with Tinubu at the Defence House in Abuja, on Wednesday.
The meeting, it was gathered, was part of the consultations by the All Progressives Congress on the zoning of the National Assembly leadership positions.
The parley came 24 hours after Tinubu met with contestants for the Senate President seat at his Asokoro, Abuja home.
A video of Betara’s visit to the President-elect, which was released to journalists by his media office, showed Tinubu holding the lawmaker’s hand and leading him into an inner office for a private discussion in the presence of some APC stakeholders.
According to Betara’s office, the meeting with the President-elect was with a view to “extracting his support and endorsement.”
It was learnt that Tinubu had also held meetings with other stakeholders.
A roll call of visitors to Tinubu’s residence captured in videos and photographs included the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Chairman of the House Committee on Finance/Secretary of the disbanded APC Presidential Campaign Council, James Faleke; and Chairman of the House Committee on Defence, Babajimi Benson.
Others were the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; Senators Olamilekan Adeola (APC/Lagos), Tokunbo Abiru (APC/Lagos), Opeyemi Bamidele (APC/Ekiti), Barau Jibrin (APC/Kano); and former Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio (APC/Akwa Ibom), among others.
Akpabio and Jibrin are both gunning for the seat of the President of the Senate.
Aspirants for the office of the Speaker in the 10th Assembly, some of whom have yet to officially declare their ambitions, are now over 10.
They are seeking to succeed Gbajabiamila, who has also been re-elected for a sixth term.
The contenders include the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase; Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; Chairman of the House Committee on Navy, Yusuf Gagdi; Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations, Aliyu Betara; Chairman, House Committee on Science Research Institutes, Olaide Akinremi; Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu; and Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Land Transport, Tajudeen Abbas; Chairman of the House Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness, Abdulraheem Olawuyi; Chairman, House Committee on Water Resources, Sada Soli; Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Defence, Makki Yalleman; Chairman of the House Committee on PWDs, Miriam Onuoha; and Sani Jaji.
In view of the same faith presidential ticket, the APC is expected to consider religion, party support and other factors in zoning the NASS leadership positions.
However, a group of former members of the National Assembly warned the APC against zoning positions in the legislature alongside those of the executive arm of the government.
Rising from a one-day sensitisation parley with some members of the Plateau State House of Assembly in Jos, the ex-lawmakers, who are backing Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, Aliyu Betara, for Speaker of the House in the 10th Assembly, called on the leadership of various political parties as well as the President-elect,and governors-elect not to interfere with the election of principal officers of the National Assembly.
However, the ex-NASS members, in a communique signed by a former Chief Whip of the Plateau State House of Assembly and member of the 8th House of Representatives, Timothy Golu, pointed out that executive offices are different from legislative positions, hence must exist on their respective merits, whether the occupants come from the same zone.
But speaking after meeting with Tinubu for the second time in 24 hours, the National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, urged Nigerians to be patient with the party over the zoning of the National Assembly leadership.
Besides Tinubu, others at the parley were the Vice-President-elect, Kashim Shettima, Kwara State Governor AbdulRasak Abdulrahman, members of the APC National Working Committee, Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Abubakar Kyari, Deputy National Chairman (South), Chief Emma Eneukwu and the National Secretary, Senator Iyiola Omisore.