Ahead of the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly, one of the contenders for the office of the speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, from the South-west, has secured support of no fewer than 90 House of Representatives members-elect, even as he declared his ambition officially.
Blueprint exclusively gathered that most of the members-elect rooting for him are first-timers.
Gbajabiamila, believed to be the preferred candidate of the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Hammed Tinubu, promised to work to serve the people if elected.
The Lagos-born Gbajabiamila has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2003 and was recently re-elected four years.
Blueprint reports that no fewer than 50 House of Representatives members-elect were present when Gbajabiamila officially declared his on Sunday in Abuja, even as 40 members sent in apologies.
One of the members of Gbajabiamila’s camp, who asked not to be named in print for obvious reasons, told our correspondent that “as at the last count at least 90 members have keyed into Gbaja for speaker’s project.”
Speaking during the inauguration which took place in Abuja, Gbajabiamila said: “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, religious background or political persuasion. There is so much work to be done by way of legislation in many areas of our life including but not limited to education, health, power, infrastructure and alleviation of poverty. I believe many of these deficits can be addressed through meaningful and impactful legislation.
“Historically, the House of Representatives was established to be the people’s House and for the people‘s business. It follows therefore that the Speaker must be the people’s Speaker elected to do the people‘s business and champion their cause and in doing so fulfilling their hopes and aspiration. This is the Speaker I intend and hope to be and the House I intend and hope to lead (as) a People‘s House.”
He said the last four years had afforded him the opportunity to study and take notes of important areas for action.
“I have spent the last four years in doing my best to stabilise the House, whilst exploring and studying how best legislators can unleash the full potentials of this country. I have taken copious mental and physical notes and it’s time for implementation.”
Earlier, Gbajabiamila’s campaign director-general, Abdulmumin Jibrin, described him as the “best option the party can offer.”
According to him, Gbajabiamila’s intention is not only about his desire, but about strengthening democracy.
Meanwhile, two House of Representatives members-elect of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have declared their support for Femi Gbajabiamila who is seeking to become the Speaker of the House.
Wole Oke representing Oriade/Obokun Federal Constituency of Osun state and Jerry Alagbaso representing Orlu/Oru East/Orsu Federal Constituency of Imo state said Gbajabiamila was their preferred candidate.
They stated this in Abuja on Sunday.
Oke described Gbajabiamila as “the most qualified” for the position.
“Gbajabiamila has been to my house twice to tell me of his ambition. He has honoured me and as a very cultured person, I also have to honour him by attending his declaration.
“When you talk about national interest and issues, I can’t see anybody in the House that is more qualified than Femi Gbajabiamila. He’s a lawyer by profession; he understands the House rules, the constitution and can interpret the rules. Aside from that, he is a fair-minded person.
“We from the South-west, we are giving you one of our best. I speak here as Honourable Wole Oke and, honestly, I’ll be with him all through,” he said.
Alagbaso, in his remarks, urged the House Leader to carry the opposition along in his bid to become speaker.
He said: “My dear brother, Femi, is no doubt the most qualified to lead us, but he requires consultation. He needs to come and see elders like us. After this declaration, we need to see because I have to protect the interest of the South-east and South-south.”
The position of these two lawmakers may not be in tandem with the interest of their party.
Recently, the PDP said its members were allowed constitutionally to contest for leadership positions in the National Assembly.
The party, which has fewer members-elect than the APC, said it could sponsor lawmakers for positions if need be.
Already, at least a dozen of the APC members-elect had declared interests in becoming the speaker.