The opposition in Nigeria is promising to work with the new speaker-elect of the Federal House of Representatives to carry out the people’s mandate. Oladimeji Bankole, who is from the southwestern state of Ogun, was elected unanimously Thursday. He replaces Patricia Etteh, the first woman speaker of the Federal House of Representatives who resigned Tuesday over accusations that she awarded contracts worth $5 million to renovate her official residence and that of her deputy.
Observers said Bankole’s election was a slap in the face of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which had reportedly tried to hand pick Etteh’s successor.
Kawu Sumaila is deputy minority leader of the Federal House of Representatives and a member of the opposition All Nigeria Peoples Party. He told VOA the new speaker appears to be a humble man.
“We are comfortable with the new speaker because he asked for our mandate. He appeared before our caucus and he presented himself, and we voted for him. Therefore, we will work hand in hand with the new speaker because he is the speaker of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, not the speaker of the ruling PDP as it has happened before. Therefore we are ready to work with him,” he said.
Sumaila said the House wanted to demonstrate its independence by rejecting the official candidate of the ruling PDP.
“It clearly shows that we must stand for ourselves. We must elect our speaker, not the speaker of the PDP. That is the reason why we insisted and we were vehemently against the idea of choosing the PDP speaker. This speaker emerged with the support and the consent of the whole House not as before where PDP and the presidency would impose on us a speaker with unpopular mandate,” Sumaila said.
He said former speaker Patricia Etteh was forced to step down by members of both ruling party and the opposition and not just the opposition as some have suggested.
“It is generally believed that we are not comfortable with the leadership of Honorable Patricia Etteh. Therefore it is a collective effort of all members of the Federal House of Representatives to have a new leadership. It is an amalgamation of opposition and ruling party members. Therefore it is a collective decision of the House to go against the leadership of Honorable Etteh,” he said.
Sumaila said the House of Representatives under the leadership of Speaker Bankole will not condone corruption.
“Even in acceptance speech of the new speaker, he mentioned it to us that zero tolerance of corruption must be adhere to. And we will join our hands to make sure that this will not happen again. And I assure you that the House of Representatives will be different this time around because I know the speaker is young, dynamic and an able leader who will lead with example. And I assure you we will close our ranks, we the principle officers, to make sure that we operate a House that has zero tolerance of corruption,” Sumaila said.