Gbajabiamila and the Race for Speakership, By Hafizu Kawu
NEWS DIGEST – Even with APC overwhelming majority in the outgoing 8th Senate and House of Representatives, the National Assembly leadership was hijacked by reneged APC members and their opposition PDP collaborators. National Assembly is a strategic arm of government to achieve the Change Agenda for the country to the Next Level and APC leadership, all legislatives stakeholders, party members and the citizens don’t want a repeat of 2015 leadership crisis of the 8th assembly. Upon his re-election into the House of Representatives in 2015, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila presented himself to his colleagues as an aspirant for the Speakership seat in the House. But narrowly lost the election to the present Speaker Yakubu Dogara in an election which Femi Gbajabiamila himself described as an Act of God
Due to his wide acceptance within his party members in the House of Representatives, he was overwhelmingly elected Leader of the 8th House of Representatives on July 28, 2015. As the 8th assembly about to expire, the race for the speakership of the 9th assembly has begun and all eyes are on, majority leader of the house. Already some members have declared they intention to vying the office of the speaker of the House of Representatives. More than ever President Buhari looked forward to a mutual and effective working relationship with the 9th National Assembly.
In every democratic dispensation, the leadership of the nation’s legislature chambers should be entrusted on the shoulders of the persons who has possess the much needed qualities of moving the legislative body forward. If the postulation is anything to go by, Femi Gbajabiamila is the one who can be entrusted with such a challenging responsibilities of becoming the speaker of the federal House of Representatives, considering the fact that the nation Legislatives House are dire needs of strong leaders and also party loyal that will have the far reaching positive impact on the lives of Nigerians. Gbajabiamila had his 16 years of legislative experience; was the deputy minority leader in the 6th assembly and emerged as the minority leader with the 7th assembly and majority leader in the 8th assembly. Aside his eloquence and tactical approach to issues in the house, Gbajabiamila maintains an enviable track record. He had sponsored a countless bills in the national assembly; he is seen as one of the brilliant minds to have graced the chamber.
Looking at Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila marvelous score card as a legislator he is the one widely acknowledged as a politicians’ worth of his onion in the quest for making the nascent democratic system ticking. He filed several lawsuits against the then federal government who he accused of operating an illegal excess crude oil account and spending tax payers’ money without appropriation. His struggle did not go in vain as the present administration has adopted a Treasury Single Account policy which has returned a semblance of accountability to government spending.
Gbajabiamila had sponsored the highest number of Bills in the National Assembly amongst all the legislators. Amongst his Bills and Motions in the House, Gbajabiamila has been very passionate about the Employee Rights Bill, Local content in Construction Industry Bill, Vocational Schools Bill, The Economic Stimulus Bill, Interest-Free Students Loan and Establishment of Nigeria Education Bank Bill etc. Other bills to his watch are bill to criminalize the use of ‘estimated billing’ in the calculation of electricity consumed and to be paid for by consumers by Nigeria’s electricity distribution companies.
A bill seeks to amend the Electoral Act 2010 to empower election tribunals and courts to declare the deputy governorship candidates as winners in the event of death of the governorship aspirant. The bill also includes the use of card reader as part of the Electoral Act. Another bill to cover the vacuum in the event that a governorship candidate dies before the conclusion of elections. A Community Service Bill to decongest prisons is welcomed. the review became necessary to save the inmates that “are not criminals but petty offenders involved in misdemeanours like wandering, hawking or trading illegally on the streets”. The bill aimed to allow low offenders to be given a milder punishment than imprisonment. Making them to do community services would be of more benefit to the society than imprisonment. More importantly, it would help decongest nation’s prisons yards which is overcrowded with awaiting trial prisoners.
Always protecting the party interest, he played a pivotal role in protecting the interest of the APC, positioning it as a strong force, especially in the eight assemblies where the party suffered internal crisis that led to gales of defection. While 37 members of the caucus dumped the party during plenary on July 2018, Gbajabiamila led the remaining members to reject the defection, while he hinted at taking “necessary steps” over the move which he described as illegal. “People elected you on a particular platform to represent them. That seat does not belong to you; it belongs to the political party. Not only does APC remain the majority in the house it is still a clear majority. This leaves APC over and beyond what is required for majority,” Gbajabiamila had said.
The House of Representatives majority leader Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, declared his intention in company of over 170 members-elect, having won a historic 5th term mandate to the House with 16 years’ experience this enable him understood the intricate workings of the legislature, a critical arm of government and I have come to understand the imperative of striking a delicate balance in the relationship between the Executive and Legislative arms of government without compromising the latter’s independence. Indeed, there is an essential need for a symbiotic relationship between all arms and all tiers of government if we are to make steady progress in nation building.
During his declaration for the Office of the speaker he also displayed his good sportsmanship his Speakership campaign logo embodies the logos of all political parties represented in the House (9th Assembly) and humbly invite each returnees and member elect of to join him as together can build a more perfect union. Hon Gbajabiamila said the task is onerous and can only be completed if all come together, in line with the legacies of our forebearers and the labours of our heroes past.
So the incoming ninth assembly expected to be led by a person with considerable legislative experience and expertise who can be able to preside over its affairs and also whether the storms at any given time. Simple term incoming ninth assembly need no other person than Hon Femi Gbajabiamila as a speaker.
Hon. Ibrahim Kawu wrote in from Abuja and can be reached at [email protected]