The contest for speaker of the House of Representatives is becoming more intriguing as the only female lawmaker in the race, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (APC, Abia) yesterday called on the anointed candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila to make the sacrifice and step down from the race for equity and unity.
Onyejeocha, who has just been re-elected for the fourth time and represents Isuikwuato/Umunneochi federal Constituency of Abia State made the call at a press conference in Abuja.
“Hon. Gbajabiamila is a good gentleman and a wonderful legislature; but having been minority leader and majority leader, I think it is time for him to make sacrifice so that there will be unity and equity in the party and the nation.
“Mr. president is a good man; let us help him; even if it means saying let the speaker go to another zone because the north-west has president, the south-west has vice president and it will be better if other regions are also giving consideration for leadership positions”, she stated.
Speaking on the zoning arrangement, Onyejeocha explained that “I know that my party has stated indications as to how it would like to see the distribution of key National Assembly leadership positions, it is, however, important to point out the concerns of my people of the South East Geo-Political Zone.
“We are worried that inequitable distribution of presiding officers’ positions in the National Assembly, would exacerbate the current deep divides in the country, worsening the sense of marginalization of the South East in Nigeria and create a lopsidedness in the distribution of the top 6 positions in the country”.
Continuing, she noted that “With the North West and South West already taking the first two most important political positions in the country, of President and Vice-President, it would be equitable that the next four positions of Senate President, Speaker, Deputy Senate President and Deputy Speaker, be shared equitably among the remaining four geopolitical zones of North East, North Central, South East and South South.
“The message from my people of the South East geo-political zone of Nigeria is that they demand equity in representation”.
The lawmaker said “I also think that as a woman, who has distinguished herself and contributed immensely to the development of Nigeria and to the good political and electoral fortunes of my party, the APC, in the South East, leading to our emergence as the party of choice at the national level, the APC should use the opportunity of my expression of interest in the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives to fulfill its promise to Nigerians, that it would increase women participation in the governance of the country”.
She noted that “As a Member of the All Progressive Congress (APC), who struggled against all odds to win a re-election under very difficult circumstances in Abia State, I believe that my party, the APC has a lot to do to help consolidate on the significant victory that the party recorded in winning this House of Representatives seat in Abia State, where my party has made important gains in its electoral fortune in the South East of Nigeria”.
Onyejeocha said she was eminently qualified having been in the House for three terms and held strategic committees adding that “In my over 11 years of being a Member of the House of Representatives, I have served my Constituents and Nigeria diligently and with distinction. I believe that I am very well equipped with knowledge, experience and integrity needed to manage bigger responsibilities.
“I have sponsored several motions and bills, conducted oversight over multiple activities and initiatives of government, ministries, departments and agencies and helped deliver meaningful constituency projects to the people of Isuikwuato/Umunneochi Federal Constituency of Abia State that I represent.
“I have chaired very important Committees of the House of Representatives, including the Committees of Aviation and Women in Parliament. As the Chairperson of the Aviation Committee of the House for two Sessions now, I oversighted the successful building of the New International Airport Terminal in Abuja, as well as the remodeling and renovation of several other airports and runways across the country.
She promised that if elected speaker, “I will lead the drive to facilitate better understanding of the legislature and bridge the communication gap between the Nigerian Legislature and citizens. This way Nigerians will better understand the role of the legislative arm of government and work with us for better accountability and responsiveness. In addition, I will strive to ensure that we adopt a public communications strategy and process that will keep Nigerians informed of the work, activities, accomplishments and challenges of the National Assembly”.
Speaking further, the lawmaker assured that “I will ensure that as much as possible, there is a conducive environment for legislative work and collaboration across party and ideological lines.
“I will work with my fellow members of this Honorable 9th Assembly to uphold the equality of members and their rights to make contributions on the floor of the house. This would include ensuring that every member irrespective of rank is treated with dignity and respect.
She also promised to “encourage consensus building and promote efforts to negotiate differences and find compromises to differences across party lines Treat new members with respect and uphold the equality of every member.