In a latest twist, the Presidency now appears to be weighing the option of backing the only woman in the race for the Speaker of House of Representatives, as the scramble for top parliamentary positions enter a crucial stage ahead of the June 11, 2019 date, said inside villa sources.
But aside a last minute push by the first lady, Aisha Buhari and several women groups for Nkeiru Onyejeocha, a 4th term lawmaker from the Southeast and a leading contender for the position, there is also the burden of unabated controversy surrounding the choice of an earlier favoured candidate, which is now weighing heavily on the presidency.
At a breakfast-get-together to celebrate Eid Mubarak, put together by the first lady for top and influential women in the society, as well as leaders of groups in the country and which had Onyejeocha in attendance, the women circle had used the occasion to further extract “a strategic commitment for women inclusion” from President Muhammadu Buhari, according to closed sources.
It was equally revealed that the President is bothered by a weighty allegation of perjury hanging on the neck of Femi Gbajabiamila, who was earlier adopted as the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), a development which could deal a fatal blow to the administration’s commitment to integrity and honour.
There is also another concern over an emerging agitation surrounding the exclusion of the Southeast in the scheme of things, and in addition to the likelihood of excluding Christians in top leadersip positions of the National Assembly, and which could further fuel the allegation of Islamisation.
Top APC leaders are said to be scandalised by the discovery that Gbajabiamila has been persuaded to desperately drop his Christian side and embrace Islam, which his group led a fellow lawmaker, Abdulmumin Jubrin, had used as a bait to appeal to the Muslims in the North, including a visit to Saudi Arabia to perform Islamic rituals.
“I can tell you that the President is sensitives to all these things and he is deeply worried and gradually reviewing his support for the party’s candidates, at least to douse tension over the unfounded Islmaisation plot.
“I can also tell you that the first lady, women groups and interestingly some Emirs and opinion leaders are pushing for that lady – Nkeiru Onyejeocha to become the speaker and I think she could be lucky to have the president’s backing after a review of her personality because everything favours her.
“We all know that she is indeed a competent woman and her candidacy interestingly answers the Southeast agitation, the women inclusion or affirmative action and the Christians exclusion; and, based on the tradition of the President, her profile will further be reviewed by the security.
“Believe me, the allegations against Gbaja is serious, as a top security person has revealed to us in the villa and it is not impossible that this leak has further armed the first lady to drum up more support for the lady.
“Let us wait and see, the next 72 hours will be crucial and do not also forget the challenge of getting these lawmakers to support a woman, but I think they like her,” said one of the sources and a top member of the administration.
The top contenders for the speakership position are Onyejeocha, Gbaja and Mohammed Bago.