With the February 25 election into the House of Representatives done and dusted, attention has now shifted to the leadership of the Green Chamber. Intensive horse trading has also been going on behind the scene in the All Progressives Congress (APC) as to which zone should produce the Speaker of the 10th Assembly.
The emergence of Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu from the South means that the Speaker will come from the region of the North. This is in line with the previous arrangement. During the two-term administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a southern president, the North produced the Speakers of the House.
The two Speakers, Aminu Bello Masari and Aminu Waziri Tambuwal came from the North-west zone because Obasanjo’s Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was a North-easterner. Even the first Speaker, Salisu Buhari, who was impeached because of certificate forgery, came from the North-west zone.
In the present scenario, the odds favour the North-west, more so that the Vice-President-elect, Sen. Kashim Shettima, is a product of the North-east zone. As such, the zone cannot produce a Speaker. Despite these odds, some North-easterners are still eyeing the position. One of them is a lawmaker believed to be highly influential with a heavy war chest.
He is quick to silence critics of his aspiration by citing the present arrangement where the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and the incumbent Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, are both products of the South West Zone. However, that arrangement stands equity and fairness on their heads! The precedent must be discarded.
Besides the North-easterner, the incumbent Deputy Speaker, Hon. Idris Wase, from the North-central zone, is said to be nursing a promotion to the position.
Another material for the exalted office is Hon. Alhassan Doguwa, the Majority Leader in the House, who hails from the North-west representing Doguwa/Tudun Wada Federal Constituency, Kano state. Hon. Doguwa is battling to extricate himself from alleged murder and arson, an incident that occurred during the February 25 Presidential/National Assembly polls. He is presently cooling his feet at a Correctional Centre, Kano, and preoccupied with how to save his political career.
There is also another candidate favoured by an influential serving governor from the North-west for the top position. However, among those favoured for the office is Hon. Sada Soli Jibia, representing Jibia/Kaita Federal Constituency in Katsina state, fondly called Hon. Soli by his honourable colleagues. He had served as the Chief of Staff to the Speaker, House of Representatives, between 2011 and 2015 and got elected into the House in 2015.
Hon. Soli is among the ranking members who has distinguished himself as a resourceful and indefatigable lawmaker. In the House of Representatives where many members are known for observing the code of silence or turning the Green Chamber into a Temple of Morpheus, the god of sleep and dreams, Hon. Soli has stood out as a suave and articulate talkathon, with diction that arrests the attention of his listeners. He is either sponsoring motions or contributing to debates on the floor of the House and marshalling his arguments Soli(dly) to the admiration of his colleagues. There is hardly any discourse in the House that he does not make meaningful and intelligent inputs.
At the height of kidnapping and armed banditry, he raised motions calling on the House to get the security agencies to do the needful and mitigate the suffering of the victims across the country. Considering the place of power as a critical infrastructure for the nation’s economic development, Hon. Soli was known to have moved a motion on the power sector reform aimed at removing the ineffectiveness of the sector, in order to make the sector more efficiently managed, thus bringing electricity closer to major and medium/small scale consumers.
Hon. Soli was also miffed about the closure of the nation’s borders, arguing that the purpose of the closure had been defeated. Rather, he noted that the exercise only enriched border patrollers and heightened the level of corruption. In a motion he sponsored on the floor of the House, he called for an immediate review of the policy in the interest of border communities in Nigeria. Judging by his performances in the House over the years, Hon. Soli comes across as a legislator who is always on the side of the hoi polloi.
From 2019 when he got re-elected into the 9th Assembly, Hon. Soli has shone like a northern star in various positions he has served. Among them are the following committees of the House where he has served as a member: Agriculture, Production and Services; Federal Capital Territory (FCT); Banking and Currency; Foreign Affairs; Defence; Interior; Power; Works; Climate Change; Capital Market and Lake Chad.
He has also served as Chairman of the following Ad-hoc Committees: House Committee on Water Resources; Special Committee on Constitutional Review; Unspent Fund, Electoral Act; Petroleum Industry Bill; Parliamentary Friendship Group (Nigeria and Cameroon); Ad-hoc Committee to Investigate Joint Venture Businesses and Production Sharing Contracts of the NNPC from 1990; Committee on National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) to investigate the Non-Remittance of Contributions into the NSITF; Ad-hoc Committee on Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) Ltd to investigate the Alleged Negligence by the Federal Ministries of Justice and Petroleum Resources in the handling of the Transaction between the Federal Government and the P&ID.
Based on his stellar performances in all the tasks assigned to him, there is no doubt that providence appears to have prepared Hon. Soli for the onerous task ahead if given the opportunity to lead the House in the 10th Assembly.