Dissected Gbajabiamila and the quest for NASS Speakership, By Abba Dukawa

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Despite All Progressives Congress’ stand on the leadership of the 8th Assembly in 2015 where the party zoning the speakership to southwest and north east for deputy speaker respectively, but in clear defiance of party directives that the position had been zoned but APC renege legislatives members in the green chamber with support of opposition party members, played itself out with the emergence of Hon. Yakubu Dogara as speaker. Even though the contest was tough and even bitterly fought with all manner of recriminations and rancor from opposing camps after what the reneged APC members did. A mature Hon Femi Gbajabiamila accepted the outcome, serving superbly and loyally as House Majority Leader, co-operating and collaborating with previous rivals and contestants in moving the House Legislative Agenda forward.

As the 8th National Assembly tenure about to expire on 5th June the majority leader of the 8th National Assembly’s quest for the office of the House of Representatives speakers is not about his personal benefits it’s about the strengthening of the legislative arm with 16 years’ experience which has enabled him to understand the intricate workings of the legislature, a critical arm of government, and has come to understand the imperative of striking a delicate balance in the relationship between the Executive and Legislative arms of government. Femi Gbajabiamila is deeply involved in the pro-democracy movement that battled and finally ousted the military dictatorship on May 29, 1999. A spirited Hon Femi does not care a hoot whose ox is gored in the process of advancing the fundamental human rights of his people and Nigerians at large, as far as he is concerned all citizens are equal before the law; what is good for the goose is also sauce for the gander, the popular Gbaja surmises. During the unpopular third term gambit by then President Olusegun Obasanjo regime, he was in the forefront of the massive mobilization of democratic and progressive forces that sealed the fate of the third term promoters and their paid hatchet men in and outside Nigeria’s National Assembly.

He delve into partisan politics and offer himself up for service on the platform of the then Alliance for Democracy (AD). After a rigorous and highly competitive campaign, Gbajabiamila succeeded in ousting the incumbent member of the House of Representatives from Surulere constituency 1, and clinched his party’s nomination for the seat. His party leaders recognized his true commitment to party ideals and worked with him to emerge victorious at the general elections. His first term in the House demonstrated his true passion for issues concerning his constituents and Nigeria as a whole; he worked passionately to address matters of great concern to him and quickly earned a reputation as a true and brilliant legislator. A true believer in qualitative representation, he took an active part in debates on the floor of the House and was fast recognized as one of the brilliant minds in the National Assembly. He was always on the side of truth and justice and his view truly reflected the wishes and aspirations of his constituents.

One thing that one cannot denying about Femi Gbajabiamila’s qualities of representation is that he has always been firm in the line of justice and his commitment to his constituents in the last 16 years. The majority leader had dedicated his life to the service of his constituents and Nigeria at large. I will not be making a mistake if I say that Hon. Femi stands out as the best candidate the members in the chamber cannot miss. One thing that many not know is that Femi’s candidacy for the ninth assembly is not about him himself but rather the sanitizing of the nation’s democracy. It is about practicing what he always preaches, global best practices of legislation.

If the postulation is anything to go by, Femi Gbajabiamila is the one who can be entrusted with such a challenging responsibility of becoming the speaker of the federal House of Representatives, considering the fact that the nation’s democratic system is in dire need of reform that will have a far reaching positive impact on the lives of Nigerians. In a speech announcing his declaration for the Speaker, Gbaja said “I stand here today before you hopefully as a symbol of encouragement and point of contact for the many young men and women out there who believe that with hard work and commitment whatever the mind can conceive is possible. As a beacon of hope and faith and a testimony to the endless possibilities that abound in this great country. That you can be whatever and whoever you want and with focus, hard work and perseverance, the sky can sometimes be the beginning.

Looking at Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila’s marvelous scorecard as a legislator he is the one widely acknowledged as a politician worthy of his onion in the quest for making the nascent democratic system ticking. Gbajabiamila 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 the Construction Industry Bill, Vocational Schools Bill, the Economic Stimulus Bill, Interest-Free Students Loan and the Establishment of Nigeria Education Bank Bill, etc. Other bills to his watch include the 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

Femi Gbajabiamila, (Baban Jamila) as people fondly called him promised opposition parties serving and newly elected lawmakers to be inclusive and really need them. To prove his effort to run inclusive for the 9th National Assembly Gbajabiamila’s Speakership his campaign logo embodies the logos of all political parties represented in the House (9th Assembly), and also have tagged his campaign NATION BUILDING, A JOINT TASK, saying he humbly invites each one of them to join him so together we can build a more perfect union. I seek the buy-in of all colleagues in the green chambers in respect of party affiliations and Nigerians to this Joint Task. In a speech announcing his declaration for the Speaker ,Gbaja said “ stand here today before you hopefully as a symbol of encouragement and point of contact for the many young men and women out there who believe that with hardwork and commitment whatever the mind can conceive is possible. As a beacon of hope and faith and a testimony to the endless possibilities that abound in this great country. That you can be whatever and whoever you want and with focus, hardwork and perseverance, the sky can sometimes be the beginning”.

“In these 16 years I have been a principal officer for 12years. I have occupied the office of leader of the opposition and successfully moved my party from opposition to majority in the House and thereafter assumed the position of House Leader, placing me in a uniquely advantageous position of understanding the nuances and intricacies of this very critical arm of government and the need for its independence and at same time interdependence with the executive. It is this wealth of experience and a burning desire for good governance that I bring to the table. A desire to take the legislature to the next level standing tall and shoulder to shoulder with the most advanced legislatures world over”.Femi added.

In terms of leadership acumen, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila is a leader amongst leaders having displayed a high degree of vigor, rigour, foresight and fortitude in the course of his political and legislative outing for there has never been a day when the famed constitutional avatar was known or said to have lost his cool even in the face of provocation by members of the ruling or opposition party as the case may be. When he was the Minority Leader of the House during the period of PDP dominance, Hon Femi tirelessly battled the ruling party’s handlers and henchmen whenever he felt that they were severe infractions on the legislative and constitutional process occasioned by the arrogance and impunity of those in power.

In 2014,  as the leader of opposition in the House of Representatives led his colleagues into the merger that gave birth to the APC. Under Gbajabiamila’s leadership of the APC caucus in the House, the party increased its numbers, earning them the majority. He 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.

Femi Gbajabiamila possesses the priceless acumen needed to take up this task and another pivotal point that cannot be taken away is his political worth to his party and Nigeria. He has manifested a sophisticated political capacity of which only a few can boast.

Dukawa can be reached through: abbahydukawa@gmail.com

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