By Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo
The question on the lip of an average Nigerian is whether the country of our collective dream could ever be actualised. However tall as this dream may appear in view of prevailing realities, Nigeria still stands a good chance of attaining greatness if merit is given a pride of place in selection of leaders. Opportunities may have been bungled in the past, thereby necessitating the loss of hope by many country men and women in the dream of Nigerian greatness. Meanwhile, a new chapter in the nation’s democracy is to be opened in June, 2019 for Nigeria to begin her steps towards greatness.
While the president and all elected governors will be sworn into office precisely on May 29, 2019; the federal legislature will be inaugurated on June 10 or thereabout. Nigeria can only begin her walk to true greatness if the executive is complemented by a very effective legislative arm. It is needless to state that no legislative arm can be expectedly effective without principal officers that are strictly chosen on the basis of merit, competence and experience.
All elected federal lawmakers, particularly those in the lower legislative chamber are expected to rise above partisan and personal interests by ensuring the election of Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as the Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives.
It has been said that a great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together. Femi Gbajabiamia is not just a great lawmaker, he is undoubtedly the all embracing best to help in actualising a greater Nigeria through the instrumentality of innovative legislation. He is also a man of extreme cerebral powers and the charisma to competently pilot the affairs of the lower legislative chamber. It is important to note that no nation can ever attain greatness as long as the very best amongst the citizenry are not in leadership position. Candidature of Gbaabiamila is therefore a matter of much of the needed competence, experience and integrity to midwife a greater Nigeria.
The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity, which Gbajabiamila has demonstrated over the years. Aside this, he is also a lawmaker of note who is unarguably the most proficient in the last sixteen years at the House of Representatives. He has over the years demonstrated true passion on issues concerning Nigeria as a whole and he had worked passionately to address matters of great concern to him. He had promptly in his first term in the House earned an enduring reputation of a true and brilliant legislator on account of his demonstrated passion for the nation and infectious brilliance.
The House Majority Leader of the 8th House, who was also the Minority Whip of the House has to his credit the unmatched record of
sponsoring the highest number of Bills in the National Assembly amongst all the legislators. A few of his Bills and Motions so far sponsored in Included the
Employee Rights Bill, Local content in Construction Industry Bill, Vocational Schools Bill, The Economic Stimulus Bill, Interest-Free Students Loan and Establishment of Nigeria Education Bank Bill.
The lawyer turned politician has been as productive in academics, just the way he has also been in politics. Cerebral Gbajabiamila proved his brilliance at the King Williams College, Isle of Man, United Kingdom where he graduated at the top of his ‘A Levels’ class around 1980. He repeated the same feat at John Marshall Law School in Atlanta Georgia where he also graduated top of his class and earned himself a Juris Doctorate.
The 56 year old Gbajabiamila is a loyal party man that is always prepared to sacrifice his personal ambition for the interest of his party. He is also a man of proven passion for his country. He has consistently over the years championed the call for fiscal federalism and accountability in public spending. He is a man that had used his personal resources to file several lawsuits against past governments for operating an illegal excess crude oil account and spending of national resources without appropriation.
Gbajabiamila has also proven himself over the years as a true believer in qualitative representation on account of his sterling performance as a lawmaker and delivery of democratic deliverables. Aside his earned reputation as one of the most brilliant minds in the National Assembly, he is also known for always being on the side of truth and justice. Femi has likewise proven himself to be a fearless and independent minded lawmaker who had in the past taken some decisions in national interest which were clearly at great risk to his life and political career. One example of such high risk move by Gbajabiamila in national interest was when he served as the Chairman of the 2007 movement in the House, which effectively ended the “third term agenda” and machinations deployed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to perpetuate himself in power back then.
Another instance of demonstration of rare courage by Gbajabiamila in the overall national interest was when he brought a motion on the floor of the House for the invocation of the doctrine of necessity, during the illness and absence of President Umar Musa Yar’Adua. This effort in the end led to the swearing-in of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as Acting President. It is apropos to note that Gbajabiamila was the first and only legislator to have mustered the courage to move such motion in the House.
The amply demonstrated instances of patriotic courage by Gbajabiamila was what brought about a popular cliché amongst members of the House that “the fear of Gbajabiamila is the beginning of wisdom”. The man has simply earned profound respect from colleagues.
Another demonstrated height of patriotism by Gbajabiamila was in 2011 when he truthfully turned down his nomination for a high ranking National Award of the Officer of the Federal Republic, (OFR). His reason was that he did not deserve it and that the awards system in Nigeria was no longer achieving its original intent. Could there have been a better act of patriotism than this? Gbajabiamila thereafter, went ahead to put up an amendment to the National Honors Act of 1964 for stringent guidelines in the selection of National Award nominees. Femi Gbajabiamila has thus become the third and youngest Nigerian to have rejected National Honours after Late Chinua Achebe and Prof. Grace Alele-Williams.
It is without doubt that the speakership aspiration of Femi Gbajabiamila is an idea whose time has come. Acceptability of his speakership aspiration has no doubt cut across tribes and party lines. Governor Willy Obiano of Anambra state had urged Gbajabiamila and Wase to always prioritise issues that concern Anambra State when they become the presiding officers. In the words of Obiano, “I know Gbajabiamila. He is not someone who would say it is black now and it would suddenly turn to white. That is why I’ve been campaigning for him for long”.
The story of acceptance was not different with Governor Rochas
Okorocha who promised to support Gbajabiamila to realise his ambition. Okorocha said,
“My endorsement of Gbajabiamila came before now. Gbajabiamila is not a do-or-die politician, and he even deserves the position without the party endorsement”.
Succinctly put, the chance to put Nigeria on the right footing beckons now through the candidature of Gbajabiamila as the Speaker of the 9th House. Members of the lower House that I am one of them are therefore urged to take advantage of this golden opportunity in the interest of our nation and children’s children and for posterity to continually be kind to us.
*Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo (Akoko North-East /North-West Federal Constituency of Ondo State) is the Chairman, Forum of First-Time Members of House of Representatives on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC)