A member of the House of Representatives from Plateau State, Yusuf Gagdi, on Wednesday, said he had consulted 24 governors across Nigeria in his bid to become Speaker of the House in the coming 10th National Assembly.
The current 9th National Assembly was inaugurated in June 2019 and the 10th is expected to be inaugurated the same month in 2023.
Gagdi, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, while briefing journalists on the speakership campaign in Abuja, said he had visited Abia and Enugu states to seek the votes of members-elect on the platform of the opposition Labour Party.
“I want to be a speaker for the Nigerian people,” he said.
The lawmaker is one of the about 10 aspirants for the Office of the Speaker in the next Assembly, some of whom have officially declared their ambitions.
The PUNCH reported on Sunday that the aspirants include the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase; embattled Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; Chairman of the House Committee on Navy, Yusuf Gagdi; Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations, Aliyu Betara; Chairman, House Committee on Science Research Institutes, Olaide Akinremi; Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu; and Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Land Transport, Tajudeen Abbas; Chairman of the House Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness, Abdulraheem Olawuyi.
Gagdi noted that he chose to silently consult stakeholders within and outside the APC, including “citizens of this country who have a stake in decision-making on who becomes the speaker or what and how” at the initial stage of his campaign
He said, “I have done my best in my own strategy to go silent and not to engage too much media and photos in my visitations across the country. But again, yesterday, I commenced my public engagement during which I visited Lagos to meet with the Governor-elect of Abia State and members of the Labour Party. Abia has about seven members-elect in the Labour Party.
“From there, I flew to Enugu where I had an interaction with the state Chairman of the Labour Party and the governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Enugu State. Someone will wonder why this aspirant for speakership visited a governorship candidate that was not declared a governor. The state has eight members(-elect) and out of the eight, seven are Labour Party.
“To me, engaging the governor(ship candidate) that was not declared the winner but who has a majority in the House of Representatives is more important to me than visiting the person that was declared to have won, who has one member(-elect) in the National Assembly, particularly in the House. So, I selected my visit.
“Yesterday was the first public engagement but I know that silently I have visited over 24 governors across the country. Since I have commenced the public engagement, I will keep the speed up.”
The 42-year-old lawmaker, who has been reelected for a second term, said he planned to finish with the consultations before flagging off his campaign.
Gagdi urged the APC to allow the North-Central geopolitical zone to produce the next speaker of the House, noting that the zone had sustained the party’s presence in the country.
“In the area of justice, I am from the North-Central and the North-Central deserve to be (producer of) speaker. If you are zoning it to northern Nigeria, it is only the North-Central that has not produced a speaker in the past years. North-West has done almost four; North-East, two. The records are there.
“The North-Central has contributed to the APC too. I think out of the six governors in the North-Central, as it is, all of them may be APC except, maybe, Plateau State. So, the North-Central has done its best for the APC and if the party zones to the North-Central, be rest assured that you will see a more rugged commitment from my side when I become Speaker of the 10th Assembly,” he said.
On his legislative achievements, Gagdi said, “A lot of things motivated me. This is my second term in the House of Representatives. If in my first term, within three years I was able to fund 12 bills among which Mr President assented to six – six very important bills, I am proud to say you should find out from the history of the National Assembly from 1999 till date, whether there was a member that exceeded that.
“At the risk of sounding very proud of my commitment, find out and investigate, if you see that member that has funded 12 bills out of which… you can see members that have funded over 20 bills but not pushing it to an extent that Mr President would sign six of the private member bills.
“I have broken a record in the National Assembly as a first-timer. If we had a Guinness Book of Records in the National Assembly, I would have entered that Guinness Book of Records, because the primary responsibility of a parliament is to make laws. I have done that.”
The speakership aspirant added that he had moved 18 “sensitive motions” on the floor of the House as a first-timer within two years.
He stated, “I have seen a lot of wrongs in the National Assembly that need to be righted, in terms of budget and duplication of projects. That is what is wasting taxpayers’ money.”