The Vice President-elect, Kashim Shettima, has explained why the All Progressives Congress (APC) settled for the former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Senator Godswill Akpabio, as the Senate President and Tajudeen Abbas as Speaker of the House of Representatives in the forthcoming 10th National Assembly.
Shettima said the choice of Akpabio is for the purpose of faith balancing and in Nigeria’s best interest.
According to Shettima, the nation, and the party could not afford a situation where the first four citizens belong to the same faith.
He spoke as returning APC members in the House of Representatives rallied support for the pair of Tajudeen Abbas and Benjamin Kalu as Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House.
Receiving members of the Joint Task 10th Assembly, a multi-partisan forum for Members-elect of the 10th House of Representatives and the main campaign machinery of Abbasin Abuja yesterday, Shettima said the APC should not be seen to be lending credence to insinuations of an agenda to Islamise the country.
Nigeria’s stability, he stressed, was more paramount than any political consideration.
He addressed Abbas as “by God’s grace our Speaker in waiting” and Kalu, “our Deputy Speaker in waiting.”
He said the APC would continue to reach out to those aggrieved by the party’s recent anointing of candidates for the positions of Senate President, Deputy Senate President, House of Reps Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
He said: “I will take it upon myself to reach out to the other contenders. Rt Hon Betara is my brother. We are from the same sub-region; we are from the same state and I have the best relationship with him. I met him two nights ago. I will sustain that.
“Around 1pm today (Friday), I met with Rt. Hon. Ahmed Wase, the Deputy Speaker. We will continue with the engagements so we can have a rancor-free assembly.”
He also advocated a harmonious relationship between the incoming executive and the legislative arm, saying: “When Obasanjo lost grip of the National Assembly, his first tenure was a failure. President Buhari could do little in his first term because of rancorous relationship between the executive and the legislature.
“What was accomplished in the last four years was because of the harmonious relationship between the executive and legislature.
“President Goodluck Jonathan lost grip of the National Assembly when Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal emerged as the Speaker and that rancorous relationship culminated in his defeat in 2015 general election. Mariam Onuoha is my friend. I will reach out to her.
“What we are trying to avoid is a situation whereby the number one citizen, number two citizen, the number three citizen, the number four citizen are all of the same faith. That will validate the negative narrative of Islamization of Nigeria.
“That is why my principal, a fair minded individual, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu insisted the number three citizen must come from the South/South (Christian). The stability of the nation is more important than any other consideration. We are talking about inclusivity.”
The vice president-elect advised Abbas and Kalu to carry other political parties along in the appointment of committee chairmen if they emerged Presiding Officers of the House.
Abbas expressed gratitude to Shettima and Tinubu for their support and pledged that under their leadership, there would be a harmonious relationship between the two sides for the progress of the country.
Also speaking, Kalu thanked the APC, Tinubu and Shetimma for rewarding the South/East despite the abysmal performance of the party in the zone during the last election.
His words: “In your magnanimity you decided to show that cohesion was necessary for nation building. But this time, irrespective of the votes that come from the South East, you considered cohesion and gave us deputy speaker, we are grateful.
“Here we have over 153 members, some of whom are outside, who are in support of the decision that the party has taken, because this is the decision that will give every part of the nation a sense of belonging