10th NASS: Reps’ spokesman, Benjamin Kalu, declares speakership ambition

Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, on Thursday officially declared his ambition to be Speaker of the House in the coming 10th National Assembly.

Kalu, who has been re-elected for a second term, will be the only All Progressives Congress from Abia State in the 10th House after the political tsunami created by the Labour Party in Abia in the 2023 general elections.

He said, “Nigerians are looking for a speaker that will increase what I call ‘parliamentary sovereignty;’ where the motions, the resolutions and independence of the arm of the government would be showcased better than 9th Assembly has struggled. Because the 9th Assembly has maintained its independence, then we need somebody that will toe the path and sustain that independence.

“Many people say rubberstamp but we have always consciously monitored the borderline in the way we sustain this rancour-free relationship with the Executive, understanding the doctrine of separation of powers, knowing the borderline between what is expected by the mandate of our arm of the government, constitutionally speaking, and where the mandate of the Executive starts.

“So, Nigerians are looking for parliamentary sovereignty. Nigerians are looking for a speaker that will increase institutional trust. You and I will agree that the coming of the legislature appears like a strange arm of the government, when Nigerians have been used to military rule with only the Executive and the Judiciary.”

Kalu stated that under his leadership as the speaker, laws bothering on education; economy – economic growth, job creation, poverty reduction; insecurity, healthcare and environmental sustainability would be prioritised.

“These are some of the things that the speaker that is coming on board should be equipped to be able to deliver and I know Benjamin Okezie Kalu has been equipped to represent 369 members as the image-maker of the House of Representatives for four years,” he added.

Meanwhile, another member of the House, Tajudeen Abbas, is said to be prepared to officially declare his speakership bid soon.

Abbas, who is representing Zaria Federal Constituency in Kaduna State on the platform of the APC, is Chairman of the House Committee on Land Transport.

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The source said, “I want to confirm to you that Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas will soon be making his intention to contest for speaker known to everyone. He is the best lawmaker in terms of lawmaking in the National Assembly.

“Remember, the primary function of legislators is law-making and Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas has sponsored 78 bills, which is the highest in this Assembly. In the 8th House, he came third with 43 bills and 113 motions.

“This is the man for the job and Governor Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai is solidly behind his aspiration because Hon. Abbas is a good product and Kaduna State is offering the nation the best to lead the House of Representatives.”

The source also noted that no fewer than 20 of Abbas’ bills had been signed into law, arguably the highest by a member of the National Assembly.

The lawmakers are part of the about 10 aspirants for the Office of the Speaker in the next Assembly, some of whom have officially declared their ambitions.

It was reported on Sunday that the aspirants include the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase; embattled 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.

The current 9th National Assembly was inaugurated in June 2019 and the 10th is expected to be inaugurated the same month in 2023.

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