Analysis: How Gbajabiamila’s House Speakership Drive Is Shaping Up; See The Powerful Forces Turning Up For Him And His Smart Moves

A popular adage has it that insanity is doing the same thing same way and yet expecting a different result. Apparently it holds that if you want a different result, then you must innovate and do things differently.

This appears to have fueled the approach Femi Gbajabiamila has decided to undertake in his quest to become the next the Speaker of the House of Representatives, popularly referred to as the green chamber and Nigeria’s second legislative house.
The astute law maker apparently has realised that having the backing of his party, the All Progressives Congress and being the anointed candidate of the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu isn’t enough to get him his goal. He certainly had this way back in 2015 and yet was beaten to prize by Yakubu Dogara.
And so the strategy has changed for him. Or should we say he changed his strategy. The politician has been touring round the country courting and wooing state governors and eminent personalities to get their support for his candidature.

Femi Gbajabiamila who is the majority Leader of the House of Representatives, formally declared his intention to run for the speakership position of the 9th House when inaugurated in June this year on March 31st at the Transcorp Hilton at a World Press Conference

While making the declaration in Abuja on Sunday, Gbajabiamila who represents Surulere 11 federal constituency of Lagos State said he would be peoples speaker if elected. Part of his declaration speech read:

I stand here today before you hopefully as a symbol of encouragement and point of contact for the many young men and women out there who believe that with hardwork and commitment whatever the mind can conceive is possible. As a beacon of hope and faith and a testimony to the endless possibilities that abound in this great country. That you can be whatever and whoever you want and with focus, hardwork and perseverance, the sky can sometimes be the beginning.

I stand before you as a man with an abiding faith in the greatness of our country. Let no one tell you otherwise. We are not where we ought to be considering the abundance of talents and the blessing from God however I rest assured that slowly but surely we will get there.

It is because of this unshakeable belief in the potential and genius of Nigeria and the majesty of our democracy, that I today after wide consultations with my colleagues, friends, family, Party and stakeholders and in total submission to the will of God, today formally declare my intention to seek the position of the office of the Speaker of the 9th Assembly and offer my service to the nation in this capacity.

As many of you are aware, I ran for the same office just four years ago but it was not to be. Well four years has come and gone and now we have come full circle.

Speaking further, he said: With all sense of humility, I seek this office with a rich legislative background and pedigree and having just won a historic 5th term mandate to the House. I have in the last 16 years dedicated my life to the service of my constituents and Nigeria. I have studied and understood the intricate workings of the legislature, a critical arm of government and I have come to understand the imperative of striking a delicate balance in the relationship between the Executive and Legislative arms of government without compromising the latter’s independence. Indeed there is an essential need for a symbiotic relationship between all arms and all tiers of government if we are to make steady progress in nation building.

He had earlier the blessing of the leadership of the APC as he and Senator Ahmed Lawal were officially adopted as preferred candidate for the position of House Speaker and Senate President respectively.

The Powerful Forces Rallying Up Behind Him

In order to ensure he leaves no stone unturned, the lawmaker has embarked on a nationwide tour with a whooping 103 lawmakers out of the total number of lawmakers to canvass for the support of powerful governors and politicians like:

South West Governors: On May 1st, the lawmaker was hosted by South West governors made up of newly elected governor of Lagos state, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State and Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State.

178 Newly Elected Lawmakers: On the 2ND of May, a strong signal was sent out to the other contestants by newly elected law makers. Now the interesting part of this move was that the lawmakers were drawn from about five major parties namely APC, PDP, APGA, SDP and ADC having representatives in the House of Assembly. The 178 lawmakers pledged their support and backing of his candidature for the Speakership position.

Ebonyi State Governor – David Umahi: On the 21st,the lawmaker and his 103 man strong entourage visited governor David Ubahi where he was endorsed by the governor as well as Governor Ifeanyi Ugwanyi of Enugu.

And then Willie Obiano!

On Tuesday May 22, it was the turn of Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo state the lawmaker.

His Choice Of Deputy

The lawmaker’s choice in adopting Hon. Ahmed Wase as running mate in the Ninth Assembly is also aimed at getting the northern lawmakers to collectively buy into his candidature.

His Extra Moves To Woo His Fellow Law Makers

Earlier this month, precisely on the 3rd, Gbajabiamila had hosted members elect across political divides to woo them.

Injecting a new style into his campaign for the office, he gathered them to sell his manifesto to them as well as woo them with some gifts.

Reports have it however, that journalists were asked to leave the New Chelsea Hotel in Abuja, the venue of the meeting, before the gifts were distributed to the lawmakers.

The gifts included smartphones, among other items, which the lawmakers were seen carrying around in packs as they posed for photographs, the New Telegraph newspaper reported.

Sources at the closed-door meeting claimed that the members-elect signed the register for the phones and other gift items in an envelope before all was handed to them. The sources declined to disclose what was in the envelope that each beneficiary received.

It was learnt that the meeting was presided over by Gbajabiamila, who hinted that he currently enjoys the support of 178 reps-elect from all the major political parties in the House. This number, according to his political loyalists in the green chamber, is sufficient to win him the speakership seat.

Onofiok Luke (PDP, Akwa Ibom), one of the loyalists of Gbajabiamila, who addressed a press conference after conferring with Gbajiabiamila, said they opted to support him for the office because of his capacity, openness and experience in the National Assembly.

Luke, who is the outgoing speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and member-elect for the incoming House of Representatives, said all the 178 members-elect rooting for Gbajiabiamila attended the meeting and resolved to adopt him for the office, because “he is a non-sectional lawmaker”.

As it stands, nothing but a win for law maker come June will be enough.