The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has revealed his decision to support Tajudeen Abbas as his successor over other aspirants.
Speaking at a meeting with lawmakers-elect at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja on Wednesday night, Gbajabiamila said his decision was to build on legislative gains so far recorded by his administration.
Gbajabiamila stated that he was also a loyal party man who would never go against the decision of the party, stressing that Abbas was a man with tremendous capacity to lead the Green Chamber.
The speaker, however, said that his decision to support Abbas doesn’t mean he hates other aspirants, stating that he has a lot of respect for other contestants.
He recalled giving one of the aspirants the chairmanship of a juicy committee to head even when it was obvious to him that the person worked against his speakership aspiration.
He said: “I stand before you here as a testament to 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 came here on the platform of a party. We don’t have an 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 among 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 they 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 comparing 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.
“Not when somebody comes and tells you no, no, the Independence of the legislature cannot be compromised, that’s hogwash. Nobody is compromising the Independence of the legislature. The last person that will do it is me. But the fact that your party says this is where we are going, doesn’t mean you are compromising the Independence of the legislature. Many of us are new here. People will talk to you. They will cajole you, and say all sorts of things in flowery and romantic language but at the end of the day, we have to be mindful of one thing. The party we represent has its leaders. The governors from the state whether we like it or not, are very powerful.
“You can do your own personal bidding today. I share these things just to advise from my own experience. In 2015, I ran for the speakership of the House of Representatives. The party nominated me. The whole world was sure that I was gonna win that race. We lost by about 6 votes. A few of our party members worked against me and combined with the PDP at the time. Four years later, I ran again and won that election with 284 votes, the highest in the history of the Nigerian parliament. And what did I do, I think time has come for me to say one or two things I would not have ordinarily said. What did I do? I gave the chairmanship of perhaps the most powerful committee in any legislature in the world to one of the prime movers who fought against me and worked against the party at the time.
“Not only did I give him that committee, but I also turned my face away and gave him a free hand just like I gave to every committee chairman. If I don’t support you today, we all have to fear God, it’s for a reason. It’s not because I have a problem with you. It’s not because I don’t like you. 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 close to me of everybody that is running because I saw in him a man with tremendous capacity.”