Rt. Honorable Femi Gbajabiamila may be moving out of his spacious office in the Green Chamber, but the accomplished legislator who reached the zenith of his representation has already moved into the ranks of the most effective legislators in history, and he’s going to rank quite high in the pantheon of modern speakers in the world and the best in Nigeria.
Four years isn’t much time to make it into the history books but he managed to break that jinx and reversed that trend and Rt. Honorable Femi Gbajabiamila is arguably the most vocal and visible Speaker of the House of Representatives that Nigeria has had since the advent of the 4th Republic, when the West African country opted to return to democratic rule.
A pan-Nigeria who is versed in the dynamics of multi-cultural Nigeria, Rt. Honorable Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila has been simply the best speaker of the Nigeria’s House of Representatives of the modern era. He is probably the best speaker in Nigeria’s history. It was time for him to bow down from his leadership role, but it likely will be a long time before we see someone of either party master the job as well as he did.
Simply known as Femi Gbajabiamila, he was a renowned lawyer in the United States of America where he built a dazzling legal career before he returned home to contest for the House of Representatives election in 2003.
With a rich political pedigree rooted in progressivism, Femi was first elected to the House in 2003, and re-elected in 2007, Representing the Surulere I constituency of Lagos State in the House of Representatives.
Back-to-back, the constituents saw his sterling performance on the floor of the green chamber and numerous projects he attracted to the area, they resolved to re-elect him in 2011,2015 and 2019. He built trust with the people and maintains consistency in his political journey.
His human relation with the grassroots was cordial and they attested to the fact that he was sociable, accessible, approachable, and ready to solve their little problems for them and he has also helped some grassroots members who had the requisite qualification to fit into some government institutions.
Gbajabiamila rose through the rank before becoming the House Minority Leader in the 7th Assembly and subsequently becoming the Speaker of the House, he was the head of the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee that investigated claims by the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) that 140.9 Billion Naira (about $1Bn), which was owed by ‘Zenon Petroleum & Gas Limited’ and ‘Forte Oil Plc’, has been paid.
A key feature worthy of note to most Nigerians and his best moment as a lawmaker was how Femi Gbajabiamila became a key actor in the force against 3rd term of the former President Olusegun Obasanjo Administration he was very instrumental in pushing it over the line through his combined persuasion and pressure to other members in the house.
Femi Gbajabiamila can be described as the hero of the perished 3rd Term Agenda. For his love for Nigeria, entrenchment of democracy despite the attempt to silence him, He stood up and became the brain behind the movement as well as the spokesperson of the anti-third term agenda in the house. Femi Gbajabiamila deserves major credit for the historic legislation.
Rt. Honorable Femi Gbajabiamila was a loyal party man to the core because he has never contemplated dumping the progressives fold even when the hope of clinching power at the centre appeared unrealistic. He stood with his party men and joined in defeating the behemoth Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that once bragged to rule for 60 years.
As the minority leader, he was vocal and dogged. Gbajabiamila blessed with the gift of garb protected the interest of the minority caucus and that of Nigeria.
Femi was elected speaker in the 9th National Assembly, House of Representative, with 283 votes and the robust legislative experience he had garnered over the years reflected in the quality of bills, motions, interventions and other legislative businesses he made during his four years stint as a speaker. His four-year term as Speaker were usually productive and he proved to be a genius of process and people.
Over and over again, Femi Gbajabiamila has found creative ways to package the APC’s priorities in a manner that allowed something people thought was a lost cause to wind up on the president’s desk, because Hon. Gbaja would always find a path when one wasn’t apparent. Some of this was inspiration, as when he intervened in national crises and brought succour to the people. Gbajabiamila was in Ghana when Nigerian traders and other foreign nationals were threatened with draconian trade policy. When the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa occurred, the Speaker didn’t pass the buck to the Executive. He rose to the occasion and joined in the concerted efforts at rescuing trapped Nigerians in the foreign country.
Given the Speaker’s importance, it is critical that they possess a range of qualities and personality traits that enable them to successfully carry out their duties and Gbajabiamila possesses these traits.
As the presiding officer of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila as a Speaker led the debates, set the legislative agendas, and ensured that the House functions smoothly and efficiently.
One of the most important qualities of Femi Gbajabiamila which made him successful as a Speaker of the House is his strong leadership skills, as he was able to inspire and motivate members of the House, while also managing competing interests and priorities, which was aided by his ability to communicate effectively, build consensus, and negotiate with a wide range of stakeholders.
Another key quality of Rt. Honorable Femi Gbajabiamila is his deep understanding of the legislative process as he was intimately familiar with the rules and procedures of the House, as well as the broader political landscape and he has a strong grasp of policy issues, as well as an ability to navigate the complex web of relationships and alliances that exist within the house.
In addition to his leadership and legislative expertise, Rt. Honorable Gbajabiamila due to his ability to listen actively, respond thoughtfully, and convey ideas effectively, possessed strong communication skills as he was well know in articulating complex ideas and policies in a clear and concise manner, while also engaging with members of the House and the public.
Entrusted with significant power and influence, Femi Gbajabiamila used that power responsibly and with integrity because he placed the interests of the Nigerian people above his personal or political gain, and has worked tirelessly to ensure that the House of Representatives functions in the best interests of the nation due to his deep commitment to public service and a strong ethical compass.
Gbaja convinced the Progressive Caucus to stick with President Muhammadu Buhari Change Mantra when things looked bleak. And some of it was finding the formula that would keep every faction of his caucus on board. It helped that Progressives appear to have trusted his word. It helped even more that APC lawmakers had enough faith in his abilities that there was never a stampede to the exits when times got rough.
Femi Gbajabiamila as a Speaker has done what no any other speaker in our nation’s history has done and he deserves our commendation. He understands politics, politics and Legislative Businesses and he is a true democrat who has a sense of maturity in the political arena.
Undoubtedly, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila has proven beyond all reasonable doubt that among his predecessors he
stood tall, and broke all their records.
Femi Gbajabiamila didn’t just symbolize the Progressive caucus; he worked to make it happen. His skill and performance as speaker is hard to dispute no matter one’s political views. Whether the policies he supported and in many cases enacted were the right ones is an attestation that the majority and minority wings view successful and if the question is whether he was good at his job, the only answer is that he was great at it. Very likely the best ever.
As his tenure ended, the APC and President-Elect Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is fortunate to have such an outstanding personality who has the charisma, zeal, aura and aroma to get things done in any task he might be assigned with in future courtesy of his unprecedented achievements as both a floor member in the house and finally as a SPEAKER!
SA Media and Publicity to Hon Hafiz Kawu MHOR Tarauni Kano