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Guardian Newspaper Headline (1st April, 2019)

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Gbajabiamila affirms bid for speaker, APC group kicks

  • Gbajabiamila affirms bid for speaker, APC group kicks

About a hundred members of the House of Representatives from across party lines yesterday rallied support for Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila who for the second time is attempting to become speaker.One after another, the lawmakers described Gbajabiamila who formerly declared his interest for the job in Abuja as the most suitable person for the Ninth House of Representatives.The legislators comprising both returning and newly elected members praised his leadership qualities as House Minority and Majority Leader within the last 16 years.

The Director General of Gbajabiamila’s campaign organisation, Dr Abdulmumini Jibrin, said it would be apt to elect Gbajabiamila since the APC has the majority in the House. He stressed the need to adhere to the dictates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on the choice of Gbajabiamila. He said that by doing so, the mistakes of 2011 and 2015 when opposition members influenced the election of principal officers of the National Assembly would be averted. Jibrin warned rivals of the bid against mudslinging and blackmail, promising to woo all House members to ensure Gbajabiamila’s emergence.

Mohammed Tahir Monguno, a fourth-term lawmaker from Borno State who read Gbajabiamila’s citation, also argued that supporting Gbajabiamila is in line with global best practices. To prove his point, he made reference to the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi who served as both minority and majority leader of the Democratic Party.

Khadijah Bukar Abba who spoke on behalf of her colleagues from the northeast geopolitical zone promised to comply with the party’s directive, noting: “Party supremacy supersedes every individual interest. We must put Nigeria first before ourselves. Wherever the speaker emerges from should not be of concern to us.”

Gbajabiamila, who tagged his aspiration, ‘Nation Building, A Joint Task’, promised he would wield his rich legislative pedigree to uplift the country. “I seek the office of the speaker to bring our tendencies together and unite us as a country. I seek the office of the speaker to bring governance even closer to the people. I seek the office of the speaker to mentor the next generation. I seek the office of the speaker so I can use the bully pulpit to galvanise honourable members to make life more abundant for every Nigerian, irrespective of tribe, religion background or political persuasion,” he said.

He added: “In these 16 years, I have been a principal officer for 12 years. I have occupied the office of leader of the opposition and successfully led 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 the 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 t he most advanced legislatures world over.”

The Conference of APC State Publicity Secretaries (CAPS), southeast zone, however enjoined Gbajabiamila to drop his bid. “It is our view that the southwest geopolitical zone cannot take the office of vice president and speaker; the northeast, Senate presidency and Secretary to the Federal Government; while the southeast goes home weeping,” the group said in a joint statement by publicity secretaries Nwoba Chika Nwoba (Ebonyi State); Mrs. Kate Ofo (Enugu State); Benedict Godson (Abia State); and Okelo Madukaife (Anambra State).

According to CAPS, “this dark pencil requires a soft eraser, and no amount of browbeating can dissuade that. We think that Gbajabiamila should be part of this solution, sacrificially. We expect a rework of what has been passed to the public domain as ‘APC zoning’, which the national chairman of our great party gladly says has not been concluded, going by his recent interview on Channels Television. We wish to be advised on which leaders of APC in the southeast were part of the process that chose who will be what in the National Assembly.”

This came as the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, at the weekend insisted the southwest would no longer “take the back seat”, in the nation’s politics, given the immense roles it has played in national development. Ogunwusi spoke at his palace in Ile Ife, Osun State, on Saturday when Mr. Abiodun Omoleye, the Chief of Staff to Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi delivered a lecture entitled, ‘Enculturation of the Yoruba Culture Among Youth: Implications on Social Reengineering and Good Governance’.

Meanwhile, Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, has urged Fayemi not to display unnecessary ignorance concerning the southwest leaders’ agitation for restructuring of the country. Fayemi had reportedly said at the weekend that restructuring would remain a mirage unless its proponents in Yoruba land reach out to other regions.

“In the last four years of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) government, which Fayemi is part of, the party has made the idea of restructuring a ‘mirage’, in spite of deceiving Nigerians with federalism on their manifesto in 2015. Proponents of restructuring in the southwest have worked with other regions in the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum and the Nigerian Leaders and Elders Forum, which included Northern Elders Forum to promote the idea of federalism,” said spokesman for Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, in a statement yesterday.

He added: “The map of the last presidential elections with all the manipulations still showed the result of what has been achieved in this regard. Instead of shifting the blame on proponents of restructuring, a governor with testicular fortitude should have found the courage to reach to the only ‘region’ stonewalling the restructuring of Nigeria, – the Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency – in spite of the Governor Nasir El-Rufai Committee’s report on restructuring, which now appears a mere attempt to hoodwink the unwary.”

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