Gbajabiamila’s triumphant ‘thank you’ ride into town
Last Saturday, the newly elected Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Surulere Federal Constituency), made a triumphant ride back into town in a colourful fashion, as his supporters lined the streets to welcome him home after emerging Nigeria’s number four citizen.
He had returned to pay a ‘thank you’ visit to his base in Lagos State. He was accompanied by the Lagos chapter of APC, led by the state chairman, Mr. Tunde Balogun, among other dignitaries and fellow lawmakers from Abuja.
Gbajabiamila’s itinerary included visits to Lagos State House, Alausa, to see Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Oba of Lagos, Rilwanu Akiolu 1, and finally to the residence of National Leader of APC, Bola Tinubu.
But beyond the excitement that attended the visit, the popular side-talk was if his emergence would boost the Southwest’s chances of clinching the presidency in 2023.
Part of the speculations was how he would use his new position to galvanise the interests of the Southwest geo-political zone to national reckoning and meet their political aspirations.
Now that the Southwest has now produced the speaker, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Governor Kayode Fayemi, what could these positions translate to in form of negotiations for Yoruba interests, including the presidency in 2023? This is especially crucial in view of the current insecurity and criminal activities ravaging the Southwest.
Interestingly, the talking points the visit generated were not necessarily centred on the presidential ambition of any individual, as it focused principally on what good deals Gbajabiamila and Yoruba personalities in government would attract to the region under the current dispensation.
Gbajabiamila is the third Yoruba and the first Lagos politician to emerge Speaker of the House of Representatives since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999. In 2007, Hon. Patricia Etteh briefly presided over the affairs of the House before her removal in November after some breaches. Hon. Dimeji Bankole succeeded her from Ogun State. Both lawmakers served on Peoples Democratic Party’s platform.
However, there were those who argued that Gbajabiamila is not Speaker of the Yoruba, but the entire Nigerian people and in that he must not be seen or perceived to be committed to his own zone alone at the detriment of other geo-political areas in the country. This narrative is given further credence against the background that contrary to the initial belief that his emergence was engineered by Tinubu, but a source disclosed to The Guardian that it was the presidency and Buhari that actually supported the lawmaker with federal might to attain the position amidst other strong contestants for the seat.
But against the insinuation that Gbajabiamila’s new position could assist the ambition of the region in getting the presidency in 2023, Spokesman of Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, said the immediate task the new speaker should look into is the spate of insecurity across the country, especially the rampant way it is spreading to the southern region. He also said the onus is on the speaker to use his position to fashion out ways the House could deliberate on restructuring the country to true federalism because the present system of government appears not to be the best for Nigeria.
Mr. Yinka Odumakin said the issue of Yoruba presidency in 2023 is a secondary and none significant issue to dissipate energy on for now. A member of the party, who proffered anonymity said it is too early for any Yoruba to be thinking of leveraging on the speakership position at its disposal to anticipate getting the presidency in 2023. He stressed: “If at all, we need to wait and see the list of ministerial appointment of President Buhari.”
Oba Akiolu, while addressing the speaker and his entourage, dismissed fears that the current leadership of the National Assembly, led by Senate President, Ahmed Lawan and Gbajabiamila, would be a rubber stamp to Buhari. He said making those insinuating do not understand “God has given us honest, intelligent, calm, working and very meticulous leaders in this country now, and all will be well.”
He also tasked the speaker to use his position to ensure that all Lagos State Government’s property taken away by military fiat were returned, adding, “I have a document in my possession showing the properties from CMS Grammar School, including the First Bank building. By the time I start with them, I don’t need the money to do anything than the improvement of our people. If they corporate with me all will be well but if they didn’t corporate, I’m a lawyer by profession and I enjoy trouble.”
The monarch also described Tinubu as a blessing to the country.
Spokesman of Lagos APC, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, said the significance of Gbajabiamila’s visit was to pay respect to his base and his supporters because he wouldn’t have had the opportunity of becoming the speaker if he wasn’t elected to represent Surulere Federal Constituency.
According to Igbokwe, “What the state chapter is asking is not creation of more states but consideration for ‘Special Status’ to Lagos, recognition of the 37 Local Development Council Areas (LCDA) to full-fledged local governments and special grant to the state.”
Igbokwe said Gbajabiamila’s position is not about Yoruba presidency in 2023, because he is not only representing a particular region but the entire country.
Meanwhile, the speaker said though the 8th National Assembly did its best, the 9th, which he leads, would surpass the achievements of the last Assembly, noting, “The House of Representatives would do things differently to get better results. There is so much work to be done but little time to do it. We are going to work hard; we are going to do things differently.”
Sanwo-Olu described Gbajabiamila as a cerebral and competent lawmaker.
No comments yet