All 55 members-elect of the House of Representatives from the South-South geopolitical zone have endorsed Rep. Tajudeen Abbas to emerge as speaker of the 10th Assembly.
In a statement by the Abba Campaign Team on Monday, the members-elect also endorsed Rep. Benjamin Kalu as Deputy Speaker in the June 13 elections.
The statement said that the endorsement had brought the number of incoming lawmakers backing the ticket to over 290.
Addressing the candidates and their team, Rep. Unyime Idem, a member-elect from Akwa Ibom, stated that it had come to a point where the South-South caucus must key into the vision and agenda of the Abbas/Kalu ticket.
Idem, a Co-ordinator in the Abbas Campaign Team, said that the Abbas/Kalu ticket had been vigorously promoted by the Joint Task 10th Assembly Coalition.
Idem expressed gratitude to his colleagues from the South South for trusting him with the task of conveying their decision to the Joint Task.
“I consider it a great privilege welcoming our incoming Speaker and Deputy by the grace of God. As a coordinator, it gives me pleasure to announce that we have 55 members of the South-South caucus who have penned their signatures in support of the joint ticket.
“I therefore want to assure you that we will have the whole 55 as they are going to appear in the chamber on Tuesday to give you 55 votes from the South-South geopolitical zone,” Idem said.
In response to the announcement, the co-Chairman of the Joint Task – 10th Assembly, Rep. Usman Kumo (APC-Gombe), thanked Idem for his leadership so far in the course of the campaign.
According to him, “55-over-55 is something we are not surprised, given the level of support we have enjoyed from key members of the caucus.
“As I stand before you, raised by destiny and privilege to steer this ship, I have my elder brothers with me, particularly from the South-South, such as Rep. Kingsley Chinda.
“I want to say that the zone has paid its due and what is remaining now is for Abbas and Kalu to reciprocate at the end of the day.
“And I want to assure you that by the character of the incoming Speaker and his Deputy, you will not be disappointed.”
Also, Kalu expressed gratitude to the caucus for believing in the initiative to institutionalise a legislature anchored on the principles of equity and inclusiveness.
Kalu said the campaign, which started like a ‘mustard seed’, had germinated and grown to a level of acceptance and support from members-elect across the country.
“I stand here also as part of the South and I said to myself that getting the endorsements of the South-East and South-West was not going to be complete for me without having the South-South.
“I thank God, the South-South has completed the circle by adopting us and we are so very grateful.
“I want to appreciate you for coming in your numbers and you have also invested in this project, invested money-wise even when some people did not believe in us then.
“Many notable South-South lawmakers have shown great interest and commitment with some appearing on television to shout to the world about this project and today we are witnessing the result of that effort,” Kalu said.
Kalu, the former spokesperson for the House, said speakership aspirant Abbas was hardworking, detribalised and transparent.
Kalu said that it was Abbas’ sterling qualities that inspired lawmakers, including the Speaker of the 9th Assembly, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, to lobby for him to become the next speaker.
Kalu said he and Abbas acknowledged the pivotal role colleagues from the South-South have played in bringing about the idea behind his speakership ambition.
He thanked the members-elect for their support and assured that he would not take their generousity and solidarity for granted. (NAN)