Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
South-west governors, governors-elect and members-elect of the House of Representatives on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday night endorsed the aspiration of Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, for the speakership of the ninth House expected to be inaugurated in June.
The national leadership of the party had picked the lawmaker from Lagos State as its official candidate for the plum position.
The Ogun State governor-elect, Prince Dapo Abiodun, confirmed this on his Facebook page yesterday.
“Last night (Tuesday), all the newly-elected and serving governors of the All Progressives Congress from South-west, along with members of the House of Representatives from the same region had a meeting where we unanimously endorsed the candidature of Femi Gbajabiamila as the next Speaker for the 9th Assembly,” Abiodun wrote.
He added: “We are convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that Gbajabiamila has garnered the prerequisite experience, leadership skills and wherewithal to successfully lead the green chamber and ensure that we have a smooth working relationship with the executive arm of government at the national level.
“The state governors and governors-elect have been participating in the induction programme organised by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum in Abuja. They decided to seize the opportunity of their presence in Abuja to hold consultations leading to a rancour-free election of presiding officers for the 9th National Assembly.”
The APC National Publicity Secretary, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, had in a statement after a meeting President Muhammadu Buhari held with members-elect of the House, announced the decision of the party hierarchy to adopt Gbajabiamila as the party’s candidate.
The ruling APC had also moved to douse tension in the ranks of its members of the House of Representatives-elect over the selection of Gbajabiamila as speaker, explaining that he was preferred by the party leadership because he is the highest ranking member in the lower chamber of the National Assembly.
Issa-Onilu, had told THISDAY that APC’s leaders considered the experience and rank of Gbajabiamila in coming to their conclusion, explaining that his loyalty to the party over time was also a major consideration.
However, despite APC’s official position on the issue of speakership, other candidates from different zones of the country are still rooting for the position of the speaker of the lower legislative chamber on the party’s platform.
A top APC contender, who has remained undaunted in his quest for the speakership, Hon. Umar Bago, had insisted that only some persons in the party, who are working to impose the APC majority leader on the House are insisting on Gbajabiamila.
The ranking federal lawmaker representing Chanchanga Federal Constituency of Niger State, had also maintained that while his North-central zone of the country deserves to have the speakership, he is a better choice than Gbajabiamila.
According to Bago, “President Muhammadu Buhari, the founders of APC with the exception of a few and members of the party, know that they will never have a better person than I in that position because I will protect the doctrine of democracy, the principle of equity, fairness and justice; and I will make sure that I uphold the manifesto of the APC.
“If you tear my veins you will see Buhari. I have been tutored by Buhari. You can say anything about Muhammadu Buhari but you cannot talk about corruption.”
Also, a member representing Ehime Mbano/ Obowo/ Ihitte Uboma Federal Constituency of Imo State, Hon. Chike Okafor, had also contended that the ruling APC was about to make the same mistake it made in 2015 by its choices for the leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly.