Noah Ebije, Kaduna

A northern group under the umbrella of Arewa Youth Awareness Forum (AYAF) has noted that if the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, is allowed to emerge as the Speaker of the House,  it will amount to having all the top four positions: President, the Senate President and the Chief Justice of Nigeria as Muslims.

Arewa youths said head or tail, a Muslim will emerge as the Senate President, holding the legislative arm of government.

The group said with this scenario playing out at a time most Nigerians are saying that the country is nearing ‘Islamised,’ there should be a rethink of picking Gbajabiamila as Speaker.

Addressing a press conference on Sunday in Kaduna, the leader of AYAF, Mr. Obadiah Diji, said President Buhari will not be able to perform effectively if the three arms of government are headed by Muslims,  because the opposition political parties will seize the opportunity to distract the president.

According to Diji, “by ensuring now that a Muslim heads the lower house, in addition to the Presidency, Senate and judiciary‚ the Buhari Presidency and the North may later be further unjustly vilified with the undeserved label of ’Islamisation Agenda’ across the world.

“Convinced that our nation cannot afford an undue error or misplaced experimentation with any of the three arms of government, particularly, the legislative arm and its leadership, we are trying to sensitise others about the need to speak out so that reason will prevail in the choice of the next Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“While we are not sponsoring or siding with any of the Speakership aspirants, we are deeply concerned that Nigeria’s ruling party, the Presidency and even the opposition may all be about to stand on the wrong side of history with their support for the candidature of Hon Femi Gbajabiamila as Speaker.

“Let it be known that we advocate populist legislative independence in accordance with Section 50 of the nation’s Constitution that explicitly spells out the process of electing a Senate President and a Speaker for the lower house; according to Section 50 (1) (b), “there shall be a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives , who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves. This must be done through secret ballot in accordance with extant rules. Indeed, Iegislative independence is sacrosanct.

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“Embedded in all these is a very strong long-term threat to Arewa interests: one man can make President Buhari an impotent force and if anything happens to President Buhari, only one man will coordinate the office of the VP, Senate President and House Speaker to put himself in total control as national godfather, preparatory to a 2023 presidential bid.

“True, Gbajabiamila is erudite and all that but still, we see cause to worry over the red flags in Hon Gbajabiamila’s disposition towards true statesmanship, especially with the basic leadership issues of integrity and truthfulness. Indeed, no one can imagine any possibility of a Muhammadu Buhari ever becoming president today if he had done a single mischief of taking the 525, 000 insurance money of a debilitated woman in Georgia, America, the way Hon Gbajabiamila allegedly did.

“Mr. President who was voted solely on the basis of a lifetime record of integrity got drawn into this charade, confirming that one of the biggest failings of very trustworthy people is that they trust too much, even when smart alecs are exploiting their trust.

“Among others, the Coalition of United Political Parties, including the national chairmen of 12 political parties has joined in rejecting the choice of the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives , Femi Gbajabiamila , as the next speaker, saying that APC’S choice of Gbajabiamila was ”morally , politically and constitutionally wrong.

“Through the Action Peoples Party, they have commenced criminal proceedings against the lawmaker before Grade 1 Area Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting in Karshi.

“They are adducing evidence to show that Gbajabiamila had at different times given false information on oath to the Independent National Electoral Commission when he claimed in the commission’s Form CF 001 that he had never been indicted by a tribunal, court’ or administrative panel of fraud or dishonesty.

“Sadly too, there are indications that Gbaja’s running mate, Hon Wase is also enmeshed in allegations of unscrupulous dealings involving the use of his personal company for doing the business of executing contracts for constituency projects.

“We passionately urge Mr. President, all northern governors, all members of the APC and all members of the House of Representatives to dispassionately look through and address concerns that the Gbaja/Wase ticket may ultimately turn out as being not in the interest of the Buhari Presidency, APC, the North and Nigeria.

“As no non-APC member of the House of Representatives is contesting, we recommend that Mr. President should encourage the APC caucus to find and support a good speakership material that would complement, rather than be a detriment to his administration’s quest for trust and integrity.”