Chances of the outgoing Spokesman of the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Kalu emerging as the next deputy speaker in the 10th National Assembly are now higher as 4 notable contenders of the office have stepped down for him.
It will be recalled that Kalu who represents Bende federal constituency of Abia State was on Monday, May 8 unveiled by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as its preferred choice for the office.
Vanguard learnt that the lawmakers who opted for the position but have now adopted the party’s choice included the outgoing chairman of House Committee on Basic Education, Prof. Julius Ihonvbere from Edo State; the deputy chairman of Power committee, Hon. Waive Francis from Delta State, Chairman, Committee on Women Affairs, Hon. Adewumi Onunuga from Ogun State and the deputy, chairman, Federal Character Committee, Hon. Abiola Makinde from Ondo State.
When contacted by Vanguard, Ihonvbere confirmed the development, saying it was in respect to the zoning arrangements of the party.
He said: “I was a leading contender for deputy speaker and my support was across all party lines. Unfortunately, the party zoned the Senate Presidency to the south south. So, in compliance with the party directive, I withdrew from that race and in compliance with the party directive, I declared my support for the duo Tajudeen Abbas and Benjamin Kalu. It’s as simple as that because as it was, Kalu, all of them were running for speaker until when this zoning happened. It cannot be south west or South South, it can only go the south east. And in their own estimations, they settled for a person they believe has better quality and will attract more votes to the ticket. Myself, Hon. Waive and the other lawmaker. I spoke on their behalf at the meeting where this happened.”
Also speaking, another lawmaker who didn’t want his name in print highlighted their loyalty to party, adding that Kalu “deserves it for his competences and standing against the fury of the thousand storms of Labour Party in Abia State.
“He has done the job of the spokesman well and therefore knows the needs and the strengths of the House. He will be great in helping pilot the affairs further for the institution. 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 House committee on Media and Public Affairs and the performing spokesperson of the House of Representatives who has about 43 bills to his name of which 2 has been accented to by Mr president and 22 motions with strong resolutions fully activated by the executive is well rounded for the round hole of the deputy speakership position of the 10th assembly”, the lawmaker assured.