Lawmakers of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and their Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterparts in the House of Representatives are working to forge an understanding before the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly.
This was made known by the Deputy Minority Leader and spokesman of the PDP caucus in the House of Representatives, Chukwuka Onyema, who briefed reporters at the end of a meeting between the two caucuses yesterday in Abuja.
However, Onyema insisted that there was “no deal yet.”
He said the PDP lawmakers used the opportunity of the meeting to ask all aspirants for Speaker of the 9th House to outline their manifestos with the purpose of striking a deal on how sensitive positions would be shared by the two main political parties.
The leadership slots, according to him, excluded the offices of speaker, deputy speaker and House Leader.
However, some of the sensitive committee chairmanships are to be ceded to the PDP by the APC in line with the proposed agreement.
He said: “Everybody came to tell us why they want to be speaker; what they are going to do to improve the House and the relationship among the members. That’s the whole essence of the meeting.
“All the candidates who appeared before us said they know they can’t run the House without the minority parties, especially the PDP, against a statement credited to someone to that effect.
“We don’t have any preferred candidate yet; we are going to sit as a caucus, deliberate on it, analyse it and then come up with our position. I wish we could strike a deal, but no deal yet.”
The PDP caucus leader dispelled rumours that PDP governors had settled for a particular candidate, arguing that the onus of choosing a speaker lays not with governors but with the lawmakers who would vote.
Among the APC speakership aspirants who appeared before the PDP caucus at the meeting and outlined their policies if elected were Umaru Bago (APC, Niger), Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (APC, Abia) and the incumbent House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos).
This meeting appeared to be a clear reversal on the earlier stated position of the ruling APC with regards to sharing positions in the 9th Assembly.