10th NASS: Kalu’s chances for Reps’ deputy speaker high as 4 contenders step down
The likelihood of the outgoing Spokesman of the House of Representatives, the Honourable Benjamin Kalu, becoming the 10th National Assembly’s next deputy speaker has increased as four prominent candidates for the position have resigned.
It will be recalled that on Monday, May 8, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) unveiled Kalu, who represents the Bende federal constituency in Abia State, as its preferred candidate for the position.
The lawmakers who opted for the position but now support the party’s choice include the outgoing chairman of the House Committee on Basic Education, Prof. Julius Ihonvbere of Edo State; the deputy chairman of the Power committee, Hon. Waive Francis of Delta State; the chairman of the Committee on Women Affairs, Hon. Adewumi Onunuga of Ogun State; and the deputy chairman of the Federal Character Committee, Hon. Abiola Makinde of Ondo State.
Ihonvbere confirmed the development when contacted, explaining that it was in accordance with the party’s zoning arrangements.
He stated, “I was a leading candidate for deputy speaker, with support from all parties. Sadly, the party allocated the Senate presidency to the south-south region. So, in accordance with the party directive, I withdrew from the race and declared my support for Tajudeen Abbas and Benjamin Kalu.
It is as simple as that because, prior to the zoning, all of them, including Kalu, were running for speaker. It cannot go south west or south south; only south east is possible. And based on their own evaluations, they settled for a candidate they believe is of higher calibre and will attract more votes. Me, the Honourable Waive, and the other legislator. I represented them at the meeting where this occurred.”
Also speaking, a lawmaker who did not wish to have his name mentioned emphasised their party loyalty, adding that Kalu “deserves it for his competences and standing against the thousand storms of Labour Party in Abia State.
“He has performed his duties as a spokesperson effectively and is therefore familiar with the needs and strengths of the House. He will be an asset in steering the institution’s affairs forward. A former chairman of Bende local government, former two times member of executive council of Abia State, former CEO of an international business organisation, former principal partner of a law firm, schooled locally and overseas, former team leader in Australia for UNHCR, the current chairman of the House committee on Media and Public Affairs and the performing spokesperson of the House of Representatives who has approximately 43 bills to his name, 2 of which have been accented to by Mr Oby Eze
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