Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the House of Representatives, on Wednesday, May 17, stated that he decided to support Tajudeen Abbas’ campaign for speaker of the incoming 10th House of Representatives in order to build on the legislative successes his administration has already achieved.
Speaking publicly about Abbas and Benjamin Kalu’s candidatures for speaker and deputy speaker of the House for the first time since the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) named them as its candidates, Gbajabiamila said that Abbas was a man with tremendous potential.
The Speaker was present at a meeting of the aspirants with some opposition members at the request of Joint Tenth Assembly, a group of members-elect from across the eight political parties that won seats in the incoming House.
According to Gbajabiamila, he was also a devoted member of the party and would never defy its ruling.
However, the speaker emphasised that his choice was not motivated by animosity towards rival candidates.
He recalled granting the chairmanship of a lucrative committee to one of the leading candidates for speaker of the house despite the fact that it was clear to him that the individual worked against his speakership aspirations.
Gbajabiamila, who reminisced about the speakership politics in the House, expressed sorrow for having backed Aminu Tambuwal, a former speaker and the departing governor of Sokoto State.
He said: “I stand before you here as a testament of what party loyalty and consistency can do in your life. I have a story to tell and I am sure everybody has one story of the other to tell. My story may not be unique. I cam here on the platform of a party. We don’t have independent candidacy in Nigeria. It’s not in our constitution or laws. Perhaps, one day we will get to that point. But my core belief is that if come here on the platform of a party, there is a saying all over the world that your party is always supreme.
“You will disagree with your party just like people will disagree amongst family members but at the end of the day, the party is an organized structure. Let no one kid you. I am here to offer advice. I have been the pioneer leader of what the called the House project when we install Tambuwal as speaker. I regret it. The incoming speaker will tell more of the travails and the problems we went through for 4 years when we did that the first and the second time. And I want you to hold that and start comparison to what the last 4 years have been. Now, when you look at those two sessions and the last one that is just rounding up, you have the benefit of being able to compare and then, you take an informed decision.
“It’s because as I stand here today, for those who know me, I just won my sixth term, perhaps the oldest legislator except for one. It’s because I eat, drink and sleep and wake up with the legislature in my heart. That’s my constituency and I love that institution such much. So, I decided to support a person that’s least closest to me of everybody that is running because I saw in him a man with tremendous capacity.”