- I would have been contended being a floor member – Gbajabiamila
- …says he had wanted to withdraw from speakership race
- …says he would have been deputy to Tambuwal
THE MAJORITY Leader in the House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, has asserted that but for the insistence of the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and President MuhammaduBuhari, he would have withdrawn from the race to contest for the position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
lost the Speakership to Hon. YakubuDogara and then entered a 49-day battle in the quest to clinch the position of the Majority Leader of the House.
Gbajabiamila, who said he was neither desperate to be Speaker nor Leader of the House, revealed that he had turned down the chance to be Deputy Speaker in 2011 following the rebellion that produced Hon AminuWaziriTambuwal as Speaker.
Instead he said opted to be a floor member then and would have been content to perform a similar role in the present dispensation had the leadership of his party not insisted on his being the House Leader.
In a chart with House Press Corps on Friday, Gbaja revealed that at a point, he informed President MuhammaduBuhari and his party that he wanted to withdraw from the race, but they insisted that he should stay the course by remaining in the race for House leader.
He was of the opinion that it was not the office that makes the legislator, noting instead that the legislator makes the office adding that he believed he must made impact as leader of the opposition for eight years in the House.
“A lot of people don’t know this; long-time ago, I saw the President and my party and I explained to them that thing has been framed to be about me; it was never about me and that is what my members believe and I told Mr. President and I told the party that I wanted to withdraw from the race for the sake of the President, and for the sake of the House, for the sake of the country.
“I told the governors at the meeting four weeks ago that it was not about the office; I told them that I would leave this thing in a heartbeat without thinking of it. I would not even think twice about it and I will go and sit on the floor of the House without even accepting anything even a chairmanship.
“I have been a chairman of the committee in this House and never been a deputy chairman and I made it clear to them that I have turned down things in the past. I have been offered National Honours and I turned it down, I was meant to be a deputy to AminuTambuwal; we turned it down before EmekaIhedioha took over and there have been many other things in the past.
“For me it was not about me, it was not about office, it is not the office that makes you a legislator, the legislator makes the office. It is not vice versa and I made it clear that I will leave it but on principle but my members refused.
“When I told the President to allow me leave, he did not accept it, he was reluctant. My party did not accept it and I thank God for that. They did have that kind of confidence in me to be able to deliver the goods for the party, who am I to say no.
“All we want to do is to make progress; from leader to leader, from Speaker to Speaker having said that I think what this thing has done, what the last one month controversy has done is to sensitize Nigerians and the public on the importance of the role of the office of the leader of the House.
“Before now, there are few people who had an idea or cared about House Majority Leader, but because it has generated so much interest, a lot of people have begun to understand the role of the Leader of the House.important than any other office in the Leadership because it is really the Leader of the House that drives government policies as far as the legislative arm is concerned.
“It is the leader of the House that pushes those things and brings them to the floor for debates on government policies, which may or not be popular, but that may be good for the party and for the country.
“So it is your ability and your capacity to be able to articulate that vision on the floor and push it on the floor that determines how much you are able to convince your colleagues because you are not looking to convince members of your party, but to convince others.
“The role of the House leader is not for the APC but for the whole House and they must carry everybody along across party lines and across the aisle to those who even oppose your view to carry them along, according to their understanding.“There is going to be a lot of negotiation, a lot of convincing to be done on a lot of issues and I believe and I hope that it is not an easy road. I believe we will be able to do that to the best of our ability. I have let the opposition for eight years in the House and I think I led them to a point where we took over the majority of the House and I think we did that without issues without any problem.
“We all did very well with ourselves and we will pull through to the majority position. The issue of change and the change mantra the platform might have been the one which the APC came into power, but because we got a mandate an overwhelming mandate from Nigerians 3.4 million votes.
“For me, change is not an APC thing; Nigerians started it, they have initiated it, it may have been APC’s mantra but Nigerians took ownership of it. So, the change that we are talking about is a Nigerian thing being driven by the APC.
“I believe that a lot of elements within the opposition party- the PDP- would also key into it. This is what Nigerians have asked for, and if you are relating it to the context of budget implementation compared to what we had in the past, we had budget in the past implemented 30-40 per cent,” Gbajabiamila concluded.