One-hundred and seventy members-elect of the House of Representatives including four speakership aspirants were in attendance as the incumbent Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, officially declared his ambition to run for the speakership of the 9th National Assembly.
However, the People’s Democratic Party has said it will ‘teach’ the All Progressives Congress the rudiments of democracy in the election of principal officers of the 9th National Assembly on June 9 when the federal legislature will be inaugurated.
At Gbajabiamila’s declaration for the position in Abuja on Sunday, members-elect on the platform of the APC and other political parties expressed their support for Gbajabiamila.
Shortly after Gbajabiamila’s delivered his speech, a lawmaker, Magaji Da’u Aliyu (APC, Jigawa), who anchored the event said, “At our last count, we have 170 members of the House in attendance,” to express “our support” for the Lagos Rep.
Also, at the event were members of the PDP, the Action Alliance and the African Democratic Congress, the All Progressives Grand Alliance and the African Action Congress, as well as representatives of the caucuses of the geopolitical zones.
No fewer than 17 members of the House are contesting leadership positions in the House. All of them want to be speaker except Mr Magaji Aliyu from Jigawa State in the North-West who wants to be deputy speaker.
They include Gbajabiamila, the immediate past Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives) and a former Majority Leader, Kawu Sumaila (APC, Kano); and the Deputy Majority Leader, Ahmed Wase, (APC, Plateau).
Another is the leader of the North-East caucus, Mohammed Monguno (APC, Borno), a ranking member who has just been re-elected for the fifth term just as Gbajabiamila. Also on the list is Olusegun Odebunmi from Oyo State.
Others are an ex-Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Khajidat Bukar-Ibrahim (APC, Yobe); Yakub Buba (Adamawa); the Chief Whip, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa (Kano); Chairman, Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazak Namdas (Adamawa); Chairman, Committee on NIMASA, Umar Bago (Niger); Chairman, Committee on Finance, Babangida Ibrahim-Mahuta (Katsina); Chairman, Committee on Aviation, Nkiruka Onyejeocha (Abia); Chairman, Committee on Tertiary Education and Services, Mr Suleiman Aminu (Kano); Abubakar Lado (Niger); and Muhammed Kazaure (Jigawa).
But the speakership aspirants in attendance during Gbajabiamila’s declaration included Ado-Doguwa, Sumaila, Monguno; and Bukar-Ibrahim, who had earlier served three terms in the House.
Other prominent lawmakers at the event were the leader of Gbajabiamila’s campaign, Abdulmumin Jibrin; Lagos lawmakers, including James Faleke and Rotimi Agunsoye; and some former principal officers of the House.
The PDP lawmakers who spoke at the event were Wole Oke (Osun); Iduma Igariwey (Ebonyi) and Jerry Alagbaoso (Imo). They declared their support for Gbajabiamila, asking the aspirant to reach out to more opposition lawmakers.
Oke said, “Gbajabiamila and I came to the House in 2003. We have worked together and I know him in and out. He has been to my office twice and to my house twice, to notify me that he wants to seek election as Speaker of the House of Representatives. He has honoured me and as a well-cultured person, I also have to honour him by attending this declaration, but there is more to this.
“Nigeria is at a critical period of our national life. This is a period that we should be considering issues. So, when we talk about national interest and issues, I can’t see anybody in the House that is more qualified than Gbajabiamila.
“We, from the South-West, we are giving you one of our best. I speak here as Hon. Wole Oke; and honestly, I will be with him all through.”
Alagbaoso, who noted that he was protecting the South-South and South-East’s interests, said, “There is no doubt that you are the most qualified to lead us but you have to consult. You need at least to do the needful.”
Gbajabiamila is said to be the candidate of the national leadership of the APC for the speakership position.
In his declaration speech, Gbajabiamila described himself as a man with an abiding faith in the greatness of Nigeria.
He said, “Let no one tell you otherwise. We are not where we ought to be considering the abundance of talents and the blessing from God. However, you can rest assured that slowly but surely we will get there.”
The lawmaker added, “It is because of this unshakeable belief in the potential of Nigeria and the majesty of our democracy, that I, today (Sunday), after wide consultations with my colleagues, friends, family, party and stakeholders, and in total submission to the will of God, formally declare my intention to seek the position of the office of the Speaker of the 9th National Assembly and offer my service to the nation in this capacity.
“As many of you are aware, I ran for the same office just four years ago but it was not to be. Well, four years have come and gone and now we have come full circle.
“With all sense of humility, I seek this office with a rich legislative background and pedigree and having just won a historic 5th term mandate to the House. I have in the last 16 years dedicated my life to the service of my constituents and Nigeria. I have studied and 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 the 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 progress in nation building.”