He was almost certain he would emerge as Nigeria’s speaker of the House of Representatives of the 8th NASS, but other bigger forces had other counter plans. With the near abandonment of members of his group in actualizing the party’s mandate of making him the Leader of the 8th House Reps, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila may have suddenly woken up to the reality that he has been left in the lurch writes Emma Alozie
Since the struggle for the leadership of the National Assembly began, especially that of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, all that Femi Gbajabiamila, former minority leader of the House has received from those he trusted has been betrayal.
From the time the All Progressives Congress, APC was declared the winner of the 2015 general elections, he was primed for a prominent role in the National Assembly, but with the unfolding events, the lawmaker from Lagos and the godson of Bola Tinubu has been left in the lurch, especially by those he had relied upon.
In the struggle that ensued for who becomes the speaker of the House of Reps, he was supported by the APC hierarchy and with the support from a large section of northern legislators whom he aligned with, Gbajabiamila thought his victory was a fait accompli.
But he was dead wrong. Those he relied upon betrayed him. The fate that has befallen Gbajabiamila is a tactical calculation from the northern groups, who are focused on 2019 and would not want to take any chances; but Gbajabiamila and his godfather never factored this in their calculations. While Tinubu relied on Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, who is the immediate past Speaker of the House to deliver his boy, Tambuwal and some northern interests groups were tacitly backing Dogara. This explains why Dogara, soon after his victory dedicated it to the Sultan of Sokoto.
“This victory that we celebrate here today won’t have been possible without God, the Sultanate and others across the country. For us who are Christian minorities in the North, we should acknowledge that this victory we are celebrating here today was made possible by the intervention of the Sultan and others. We should know that there is new thinking in the North.
“We owe it a duty to make sure we unite our own part of the country and other parts of the country. My emergence as Speaker is as a result of the support of all major tribes of Nigeria and all faiths in Nigeria,” Dogara said.
Also, while Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso physically identified with the APC loyalists group, he devised a means of making sure that his supporters are evenly divided for both Dogara and Gbajabiamila. This is why Hon Abdulmumin Jibrin, a known Kwankwasiya spearheaded the Dogara’s rebellion against the party, while Senator Kwankwaso was busy berating those that rebelled against the party. Kwankwaso once told Saraki not to allow his ambition derail APC programs.
“I think the party, unfortunately, is divided but it is not too late to correct many things but the party should take certain steps to ensure that such things will never happen again in the party and I am one of those who advised or tried to advise my brother, Saraki that he should not go too far with that ambition under this circumstance.
“At this level and his level, people should be more careful and cautious in what they do and what they don’t do and especially that the situation is even worse than the case of Tambuwal during the House of Representatives election of principal officers in 2011,” Kwankwaso said. While he was advising Saraki, his boys were busy doing exactly what he complained against.
Latest events ahead of the resumption of the House have shown that the northern interest groups purportedly backing Femi Gbajabiamila has all been a ruse; it never existed. The volte face made by the loyalists group whereby they chose to go by what is today known as the ‘Dogara formula’ ahead of the party’s preferred solution has brought to the fore that Gbajabimiala has been alone in the struggle.
At a press conference addressed in Abuja last weekend by a new group known as the Equity Forum, made up of mostly Gbajabiamila’s loyalists and Dogara’s loyalists, even Tahir Monguno, who ran as Gbajabiamila’s deputy graciously accepted Dogara’s formula arguing “Ordinarily, I should have been the last person to be part of this meeting, considering the fact that, all along, I have been the one making the sacrifice. Ultimately, I have become the loser in all of this. But, for the interest of the nation and the House, I have accepted to work with this arrangement.”
This realignment saw the anointing of Alhassan Ado-Doguwa (Kano State) a known Kwankwasiya as the House leader, while Buba Jibrin from Kogi State will become his deputy. Pally Iriase from Edo State has been given the Chief Whip while Chike Okafor is his deputy.
Gbajabiamila’s betrayal was not only by northern interests groups, they even came to the South West to use his kinsman to make the betrayal thorough. For instance, there were strong indications last week that pressure was being mounted on deputy speaker, Yusuf Lasun, from Osun State to step down to enable the party accommodate the interest of Gbajabiamila, but the deputy speaker was understood to have resisted such pressure. Insiders see it that if he (Lasun) did not get assurances of protection from extraneous forces, he would not have summoned that rare political courage to shun the pleas of Tinubu, former Lagos governor and the de facto governor-general of South West politics.
The hasty parch up of the cracks will surely not last as the Gbajabiamila group has regrouped to call the truce a fraud. The group insisted that its principal officers will emerge through election. In a press briefing in Abuja, the spokesman of the group, Hon. Nasiru Sani Zangon Daura rejected the Speaker’s zoning formula, insisting that the principal officers will emerge by election.
“We are also not aware of any concession(s) made by the Speaker Dogara Group to the APC Loyalist Group contrary to insinuations in the media. To have a genuine agreement that is not tainted by the PDP, the Dogara group will have to first of all cut off the umbilical cord between them and the PDP and secondly engage in candid reconciliatory discussions with our group as a whole through our approved members under the leadership of Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila,” the group said.
It promises to be a long drawn battle, but with the body language of Gbaja’s men who have shown apparent battle weariness, the lawmaker from Lagos may soon find out that he is alone in this fight.