Ninth House: Why I’m contesting against Gbajabiamila – Okafor
From Jonas Ike, Abuja
A frontline contender for the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives in the upcoming 9th National Assembly, Hon Chike John Okafor (Imo,APC) on Monday harped on the need for party to avoid the pitfalls which led to the loss of Speakership position to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015.
Okafor who spoke during a Media chat the ‘Hot Seat’ held at the instance of House Press Corps at the National Assembly complex, Abuja, specifically urged APC leadership to jettison the choice of Femi Gbajabiamila from South West and Lagos State since the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is from same geopolitical zone.
While acknowledging the legislative credentials of Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as a 5th term lawmaker and his vast experience as minority and majority leader in the sixth and seventh assembly, however stressed out he need to prioritize national unity, national interest, social justice and equity in order for other sections of the country to feel the pulse of inclusion of federating units.
The lawmaker, a one-time Commissioner of Finance, banker and incumbent Chairman, House Committee on Health Services, observed that the laws of the land does not foreclose the opposition parties from fielding candidate for the principal officers of the National Assembly, hence called for resolution of all issues of contention raised by other actors from the marginalised geo-political zones.
While responding to questions bothering on purported intimidation by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, APC National Chairman, the Imo lawmaker who dismissed the report argued that Oshiomhole has at no time threatened him and other lawmakers who have expressed interest in the race.
He further argued that as a member of the APC South East caucus, he was denied the slot of Deputy Majority Leader in the 8th Assembly because he was a first timer, adding that “I am back and ranking.”
Okafor who formally communicated his intention to vie for the position for the Number 4 citizen ahead of the party’s adoption of Gbajabiamila, noted that zoning the Speakership position will increase APC’s fortune in the South East in 2023, adding that the geo-political zone was the only place where the ruling party recorded over 100 percent votes in 2019 general election, above the 2015 general election.
While responding to question on whether he will dump the ruling party if the APC leadership fails to acede to his demands, Okafor who joined the party in 2013, vowed not to work against the party during the election of the principal officers during the inauguration of the 9th Assembly, just as he appreciated various benefits accorded him by the ruling party since he started his political career.
“If this agitation and push we are making do not work, I will not work against the party in June,” he assured.