Less than one month to the proclamation of the 9th National Assembly, the All Progressives Congress (APC) anointed candidate for Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has declared that he has the overwhelming support of members-elect to emerge victorious on June 10.
Director-General of the Femi Gbajabiamila Campaign Organization, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin (APC, Kano), who disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja, said the House leader’s support base has increased from the 178 members recorded two weeks ago to an overwhelming status.
He also confirmed the choice of Wase as the deputy speaker candidate on the side of Gbajabiamila, saying the decision was taken after wide consultations.
His words: “We wish to state categorically that Femi (Gbajabiamila) is the speakership candidate and Hon. Idris Wase is running as deputy speaker candidate. It is not a sole decision; we consulted with ourselves, with our leaders; we consulted extensively with members-elect and agree that Femi and Wase are the right choice.
“At this moment, we have the numbers to win the election in June. In the last few weeks, we applied different methods to verify our numbers and we have arrived at a very reliable number that will win us the election.
“The last approach is members are writing their names to show who they are going to vote for. We have members from the PDP and other opposition parties who have agreed to vote for us.”
Jibrin explained that if not because the campaign team does not want to take things for granted, “They would have asked their supporters to go on holiday until June 10”.
According to him, “We have also, as part of our strategy, opened consultations with past speakers of the House, members of the body of principal officers.
“But significantly, we are also lobbying the outgoing speaker, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara. We are aware of the influence he can wield and we know we can benefit from his wealth of experience too.”
Reacting to a question on the alleged strained relationship between Governor el-Rufai and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and whether the link with godfathers will not affect Gbajabiamila’s chances, Jibrin said every Nigerian politician have a godfather.
“I think the word (godfather) itself has been so painted in the negative. Essentially, it is synonymous to mentors. I do not consult my colleagues before telling you this, but I want to tell you that every politician in Nigeria has a mentor and it means he has a godfather. So, if you are saying it is a minus for Femi (Gbajabiamila) because he has a mentor or godfather, you are only saying that I should say I’m not comfortable with Femi’s godfather; bring another person’s godfather to control the National Assembly.
“On the issue of el-Rufai, he is fully in this project. You need to make a thin line where he makes a comment and his involvement in this our campaign. In fact, el-Rufai takes a chunk portion of credit for bringing this team together – organizing members towards the line of party instruction. So, he is not against it. When I said he is involved, I mean he is very much involved.”
Commenting on el-Rufai’s alleged comment on godfatherism in Lagos, Jibrin said: “He may be quoted out of context because even he himself has said he retired four godfathers and now he is the godfather in Kaduna State.
“And do not forget that Tinubu we are talking about is not the one that will hold the gavel. At the end of the day, the gavel will be in the hands of either Femi Gbajabiamila or Idris Wase supported by all the faces you are seeing here.
“No individual in the history of the nation has ever controlled the House of Representatives. It never happened in the past; it is not happening in the present and won’t happen in the future,” he added.
Speaking on the reasons adduced by other speakership contestants, Jibrin admitted that they have valid points, but the Gbajabiamila’s campaign has superior claim to the position. “Their arguments are quite persuasive, they are valid, but the most important point we want to make here is we are reaching out to all of them – from Hon. Betara, Namdas, Nkiru, Dyegh. And Buba (Hon. Yusuf) is now working with us,” he stated.
Jibrin expressed optimism that “we are pretty sure that on the 10th of June, when the election will be conducted, no member of APC will come out to contest against Gbajabiamila and Wase.”
He also dismissed the complaints of Muslim-Muslim ticket, saying there has been precedence in the previous assemblies.
According to him, Senator David Mark and Ike Ekweremadu were both Christians and presiding officers in the Senate with Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba as Senate leader.
He also cited the case of Hon. Dimeji Bankole and Usman Nafada, both Muslims who were speaker and deputy speaker respectively from 2007 to 2011 in the House of Representatives.