G7 strategizing how one of us becomes Speaker of House of Representatives – Gagdi


A member of the House of Representatives from Plateau State, Yusuf Gagdi, has said the alliance of speakership aspirants otherwise known as G7 was not formed to work against the President-elect, Bola Tinubu. The APC had settled for Tajudeen Abbas, a lawmaker from Kaduna State for the position of Speaker and Benjamin Kalu, a member from Abia State, as Deputy for the 10th House of Representatives. But other interested aspirants as well as stakeholders in the party protested the decision. The chairman, House Committee on Navy, Gagdi, in this interview with selected journalists in Abuja, bares his mind on the zoning controversy. Excerpts:

Why G7 in the first place, it is against who or for whom?

We are like minded aspirants, who believe that what (zoning) the party came out with is not just. And it is against the principles of the party. Against the motto of the party; I have said this before the National Working Committee of the party; before the national chairman of the party. The motto of APC is justice, peace and unity. Where is the motto? Where did they throw it? That as stakeholders in the Nigerian project, as an elected member of the House of Representatives and a serving member of the House of Representatives, not House of Assembly; how will I see zoning arrangement organized by the party on the pages of newspaper, the screen of television and see the national organizing secretary of the party confirming that what is going round is the position of the party.

In the first instance, there was no consultation; to some of us, it is highly disrespectful. We campaigned for the party. We are stakeholders in the party. We were elected under the leadership of the party. And there was no courtesy of even calling us to say that this is what the party is arranging. All of a sudden, a decision that has to do with some of us; and you see the decision on the pages of the newspaper; we were really, quote me anywhere, undermined. That was why we said there is a need for us to do the needful to show our strength. And we have not started anything.

How do you zone positions of the National Assembly? There is zoning but is only intended to guide the process of producing speakers. There has never been a time that you zone and you don’t discover from other places contesting. The Presidency of Nigeria in 2023 was zoned to the southern part of Nigeria, but Ahmad Lawan contested (APC presidential primary). Did heaven fall? There should be zoning to guide. But when you zone and tie the zoning to an individual, you make a mockery of the process. So, we felt that that was not nice. And for those of us that feel we have the capacity and capability to be speaker, we decided to come together to say since we are not recognised, we know the person that his name was tied to the zoning was carried along, but we that are not carried along, we need to form the G7; so, that we tell them that we don’t have a godfather, but God is our godfather. And anybody that relies on God that God is his godfather, it is going to work well.

“The North Central has done its best for the APC. In the North, we are second, in the volume of votes given. We are first in the number of Senate seats won. We have 11 senators. North West has 10, North East has 10. So, if we have given that quantum of support to APC, I don’t think it is fair to have two of those elective positions zoned to one zone and to tell us that we will have the party chairman and Secretary to Government of the Federation”

There was an assurance by the national chairman saying give us more time and we will review it. Do you think that will happen?

So, I heard and read on the pages of the newspaper. When we visited the national chairman, the chairman did promise that yes, we should read well what they released; that there would be further consultation. And because there would be further consultation, I don’t think it will be right for us to tie our hands and sit. Just like the person that the decision favoured is going round; we are also planning our strategy to see how we are going to arrive there. It is their own business whether they review or don’t review. It is equally our own business to produce a speaker from among the G7. As far as they are working to see that the problem is solved, we are equally strategizing on how we will win the election and one of us becomes the speaker of the House of Representatives.

Is there anything the party can do to ensure that the G7 works with its choice for the speakership seat?

It is still their own business. We have gone to them; submitted a paper to them; spoken to them before the press. By now, the signal is supposed to be very clear to the party, that no Nigerian, no reasonable Nigerian, is comfortable with having six geopolitical zones in Nigeria and Nigeria having six strategic elective positions of the President, Vice President, Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker, Deputy Speaker and instead of sharing one each among the six geo political zones, you domiciled two in one geopolitical zone -Speaker and Deputy Senate President. Even in that geo-political zone, you domiciled it like in one state. When you give a position to Kaduna and Kano, even in Hausa, they speak the same dialect of Hausa. The Hausa that Kano, Kaduna speak is different from the Hausa that Zamfara and Kebbi speak. So, as far as people from Zamfara and Kebbi are concerned, the two positions were given to one person, even within the North West geo-political zone. It is like giving Deputy Senate President to Bauchi and Speaker to Gombe, a state that is created out of one state. So, it doesn’t even make sense to some of them from there.

The North Central has done its best for the APC. In the North, we are second, in the volume of votes given. We are first in the number of Senate seats won. We have 11 senators. North West has 10, North East has 10. So, if we have given that quantum of support to APC, I don’t think it is fair to have two of those elective positions zoned to one zone and to tell us that we will have the party chairman and Secretary to Government of the Federation.

Those are two positions that don’t have the locus to face the President. Whatever the interest of the North Central is, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation doesn’t have the constitutional support, protection and immunity to face the President and tell him, no. But all the other five elected positions that have constitutional back up, can look at the President and tell him no, this is not fair to our zone. And party chairman; is the party chairman position for all parties? He is there for APC. Will he defend the interest of the Labour party in North Central or NNPP and what have you? Yes, he is there as chairman of the ruling party, but his powers are limited to APC affairs alone. So, you can’t count that as among the positions that North Central will benefit.

And I know the principle of our President-elect, whom, quote me anywhere, I so much respect; up till today, I don’t believe that what is happening, the president elect is aware of it. Or it is his own idea. No. That is why we are challenging the party. It is the party that issues the thing. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has promised that he will reward loyalty and commitment. He will reward what you brought to the table, before he gives back to you.

He (Tinubu) won only one local government area in Kaduna State out of all the local government areas, Birnin Gwari. And Birnin Gwari, he won it because he visited Birnin Gwari, when bandits were attacking them. They now said we will stand with you through thick and thin. In a state where you (APC) won only one local government, you are giving speakership to that state. I think it negates even the commitment of the President-elect. What the party did has contradicted the promise and commitment and the way of politics of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; because he looks at what you bring to the table and rewards you. Zamfara gave the highest vote in the North West and yet you are not giving them a single position. You are giving to a state that gave you one local government. Are we rewarding disloyalty? So, where is the principle of Bola Ahmed Tinubu? The party tore it and threw it away.

We are not against anybody. We are not even against the President elect, because as far as we are concerned, we have not heard anything from him. I want you to quote me on this. We have not heard anything from him regarding whether he has zoned, whether he has endorsed a particular