Speakership: Gbajabiamila, Bago, others in epic contest

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Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and Umar Bago are set for an epic contest for the speakership, in the chamber, today.

The contenders, alongside their supporters, were engaged in marathon meetings at different locations in Abuja, yesterday.

Aside from the duo, others still in the race, at the time of filing this report, were John Dyegh and Olajide Olatunbosun.

However, there are expectations that Bago, Dyegh and Olatubosun would rally round one of them to battle Gbajabiamila for the leadership of the Green Chamber of the Ninth Assembly.

Director General of Gbajabiamila Campaign Organisation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, on Sunday night, announced that Segun Odebunmi and Nkeiruka Onyejeocha had withdrawn from the contest and pledged their support for Gbajabiamila.

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While Odebunmi, who was present at the ceremony, confirmed his withdrawal, Onyejeocha has neither confirmed nor refuted Jibrin’s claims, as she was yet to respond to a WhatsApp message at the time of filing this report.

Spokesman of the Bago Campaign Organisation, Afam Ogene, told Daily Sun that his principal is set for the contest.

He said contrary to the stance of the Gbajabiamila campaign that Bago does not have supporters, the Niger-born lawmaker is in the contest to win.

He said: “Voting will not be done on national television.

“Voting will be done by members and we are talking to members.

They are talking to television. So, you should know who is prepared? It is like a football team, when they are training, how many football teams show their training sessions?

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“You go to the field to show how well prepared you are.

“You and I know the nature of the campaign we are running. There have been threats and intimidation of members. Who will like to be harassed? In 2015, how many members were going around with Dogara, compared with Gbajabiamila?

“The time for propaganda has passed and we are looking forward to reality today.

“We are contesting for speakership and whatever will happen will happen in the full glare of members and Nigerians watching on television.”

Jibrin had, also on Sunday night, stated that over 200 members-elect, including 60 members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have made a commitment to vote Gbajabiamila as speaker, in today’s election.

Nevertheless, he said they are not leaving anything to chance, so as to forestall a reccurrence of what happened in 2015, when Gbajabiamila narrowly lost the speakership to immediate past speaker, Yakubu Dogara.

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However, efforts to reach Jibrin for comments on their level of preparedness for today’s contest, were unsuccessful as he did not answer calls to his mobile line, yesterday evening.

Meanwhile, members-elect from the PDP, especially first timers, are waiting for directives from their respective state governors on who they will vote for as speaker.

There are 128 PDP lawmakers-elect, drawn majorly from the 16 states controlled by the opposition party.

A member-elect, who declined to be named, told Daily Sun that, although most of them have been associating openly with some of the speakership candidates, it is their governors that would ultimately decide who they will vote for.

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