Speakership: Is Gbajabiamila home and dry? — Nigerian Pilot News
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Speakership: Is Gbajabiamila home and dry?

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With less than one month to the proclamation of the ninth National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari, the campaign for who becomes the speaker of the House Representatives which was fierce in the beginning seems to be gradually dying down.
Most of the candidates who threw in their hats into the ring early last month, apart from the only female contestant, Hon. Nkiruka Onyejeocha (representing Isukwato/Umunochi federal constituency of Abia State) and Hon. John Dyegh (representing Gboko/Tarka federal constituency of Benue State) have suddenly remained quiet.
Although none of them has made an official statement to announce withdrawal from the contest, their body language suggests that they are either no longer interested in the race or have retreated, maybe to strategise for a better move going forward.
While Hon. Onyejeocha, the lone voice among the female members of the green chamber, has gone as far as advising the House leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who is the preferred candidate of the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, to step down for her, Hon. Dyegh is holding onto the fact that since the vice president is from the South-West, it is the turn of the North Central to produce the speaker.
But it is the view of the leadership of the APC and members of the House of Representatives elected on the platform of the party, both new and old, that the duo is ‘paper weight’ when compared with the ‘preferred’ candidate, Hon. Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila.
With due respect to other contestants, since the campaign for the speakership position began in earnest, Gbajabiamila had been in forefront with various caucuses of both new and returning members drumming support for him.
Apart from large number of members that stood by him the day he formally declared his interest to succeed the present speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Gbajabiamila recently held a marathon meeting with newly elected members behind closed doors.
In the middle of the meeting, he led about 178 members-elect to address journalists during which the outgoing speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Mr. Omofiok Luke, who spoke on their behalf, said the incoming representatives had endorsed the majority leader for speaker in the ninth House of Reps.
Hon. Luke, who introduced himself as the speaker of Akwa Ibom State, explained that those with him were newly-elected members of the House of Representatives, describing them as “a conglomeration of people of different political parties.”
He said while he belongs to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, they had members of the APC, All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Action Alliance, AA, Action Congress Party, ACP, and the African Democratic Congress, ADC, saying “it’s a multi-party arrangement.”
According to him, they decided to convene themselves as newly-elected members of the House of Representatives to look at the emergence of the next leadership of the ninth Assembly and in doing so, they looked through the antecedents and credentials of those who are aspiring to lead the National Assembly and concluded that there was need for a bipartisan approach to solve Nigeria’s problem.
In his words: “The person and the man that has shown that credibility, capacity; that has what it takes even as reflected in his manifesto, to carry the entire parties along in resolving and solving the issues of Nigeria; the man who will not mortgage the independence of the legislature but at the same time would not engage the executive in unnecessary fisticuffs; a man who will build a good relationship between the executive and the legislature, between the legislature and the judiciary; a man who will care about the welfare of Nigerians; a man who will put the interest of Nigeria above his personal interest; and a man who will put the interest of Nigeria above the party.
“We have resolved today to have come from our different states, from our different constituencies, and we have found as newly-elected members, having looked through the credentials and the CV; we have found Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as a man who has the capacity to lead the 9th National Assembly as the speaker of the House of Representatives.”
As groups and individuals continue to drum support for Hon. Gbajabiamila, two members of the House of Representatives elected on the platform of the PDP, Honourables Wole Oke and Jerry Alagbaso from Osun and Imo States, respectively, did not only endorse him but went as far as describing him as “the most qualified.”
While Oke said Gbajabiamila has years of experience and understands the workings of the House of Representatives, noting that “Femi Gbajabiamila and my good self came to the House in 2003. We have worked together and I know him in and out,” Alagbaso said there is no doubt Gbajabiamila is the most qualified to replace Yakubu Dogara, the current speaker of the House.
“All of us know Femi Gbajabiamila but let me say, to all of you vying for speaker, I want to warn that some of you are behaving like some people promised police uniform but have started making arrests. My brother Femi, there is no doubt you are the most qualified to lead us, but it requires consultation. You need to see elders like us. You need to do the needful. Meet us so that all of us can work together,” he added.
For his part, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, from Kano State, and director-general of Gbajabiamila Campaign Organisation, said the lawmaker is in the race for the interest of Nigerians.
He said: “The candidacy of Femi is not about himself but about our democracy; it is about sanitising and strengthening our democracy and bringing about global best practices, he stands out as the best candidate we can offer for this position; experience, brilliance, ability to relate with people.”
Earlier before Hon. Gbajabiamila made his intention to become the speaker of the House open, the APC had said that his endorsement as speaker of ninth House of Representatives was reward for his hard work and loyalty.
The party adopted Gbajabiamila as its candidate for speakership when President Muhammadu Buhari hosted members-elect to a dinner at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. However, the decision did not go down well with some party lawmakers in the House.
Hon. Ggajabiamila, who is currently the majority leader of the House on the platform of the APC, was elected into the House of Representatives in 2003 on the platform of Alliance for Democracy, AD. In fact, in those days, he was popularly known as “AD Leader,” even though the party was in the minority.
Honouable Gbajabiamila, a lawyer, is said to have garnered enough experience to lead the 360 members of the House. He has chaired many important committees in the House before becoming the majority leader in 2015 when the APC took over the mantle of leadership in the country, as well as the National Assembly.
With all other contestants already dragging their feet, it will not be wrong to conclude that Gbajabiamila is home and dry with victory staring him in the face.

QUOTE:

We have resolved today to have come from our different states, from our different constituencies, and we have found as newly-elected members, having looked through the credentials and the CV; we have found Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as a man who has the capacity to lead the 9th National Assembly as the speaker of the House of Representatives

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