The the All Progressives Congress in the House of Representatives has shared out the leadership positions in the House to its members as part of plans to assume full control of the legislature in the New Year.
The APC, formerly in the minority, outgrew the majority strength of the Peoples Democratic Party after 37 PDP lawmakers defected to it on December 18.
The development gave the country’s main opposition party a slim majority advantage of 172 members over PDP’s 171 in the House that has 360 legislators.
Findings indicated on Tuesday that with about 40 more PDP lawmakers expected to join the APC before the end of this month (January), the opposition party would be in a comfortable majority (212) to assume the leadership of the House.
“The only principal officer whose seat is guaranteed for now is the Speaker, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal,” said a reliable House source in Abuja on Tuesday.
According to the source, the APC members collectively resolved that Tambuwal would continue to lead the House.
He said, “We have long resolved that Tambuwal will remain the speaker even in an APC dominated House until he decides to dump the PDP for the APC. For the other positions, we are taking over. We are electing a new deputy speaker also.”
Investigations showed that until now, the APC caucus had resolved that its Leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, would become the Majority Leader.
The current majority leader, Mrs. Mulikat Akande-Adeola, a PDP member, is expected to relinquish her seat.
However, The PUNCH gathered that of late, Gbajabiamila had come under pressure to “step up and become the deputy speaker instead of being the majority leader.”
The lawmaker from Lagos State was said to be resisting the pressure and had urged members to allow the current Deputy Speaker, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha, retain his seat like Tambuwal.
“The confusion now is that Gbajabiamila is caught between being the majority leader and the deputy speaker”, another source in the House informed The PUNCH.
It was learnt that in the event he succumbed to pressure to become the deputy speaker, the post of majority leader might be assigned to one of the 37 PDP defectors.
“That is the thinking of the caucus; the idea is to give the ex-PDP members a sense of belonging.
“They should have something to benefit from supporting the APC”, the source added.
Other positions the APC had decided on are Majority Whip, Mr. Samson Osagie (Edo State); Deputy Majority Leader, Mr. Sumaila Kawu (Kano State); and Deputy Majority Whip, Mr. Garba Datti (Kaduna State).
The PUNCH gathered that in a bid to save Ihedioha, Tambuwal had reportedly intensified lobbying his colleagues to extend the same gesture of retaining him to Ihedioha.
Another source in the House said, “The speaker has been talking to members to consider his appeal. Many of them are bent on asking Ihedioha to go because they claim not to be comfortable with his leadership style.
“There are those who are giving him the option of joining the APC to remain the deputy speaker.
“This latter group is certain that Tambuwal too has little choice but to join the APC by the end of this month.”
But, Ihedioha, has stated categorically that he will not abandon the PDP, a party he said did so much for him by returning him to the National Assembly for the third time.
When contacted, Gbajabiamila said there were “unresolved issues being discussed by members.”
Asked whether one of the issues was his being tipped for the position of the deputy speaker, he said that “members are the ones discussing to take decisions.”
When our correspondent probed further, Gbajabiamila said he would have wished to be majority leader.