OrderPaperToday –
İt’s barely eight days before the commencement of party primaries ahead of the 2023 General Election, but nothing has been heard about the ambition of the incumbent Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

Long before the various political parties, commenced the sales of forms for respective offices, the media space has been awash with speculations and declarations by aspirants with regard to their plans ahead of the forthcoming general election.

Despite the fact that there have been a number of twists to this electioneering cycle that has made it more intriguing and dramatic, very little has been heard from the camp of the country’s number four citizen.

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Since his election to office in June 2019, speculations have been rife that the body language of the Lagos lawmaker indicated that he was eyeing the seat of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the Alausa Government House.

SIGNS OF THE TIME?

He however rebuffed the speculations when he appeared on a live programme on Channels Television sometime in 2021.

“No, I don’t have any such plan; I have no immediate plan, I have a job that I am doing now, a very tough job, sometimes the most difficult job but people don’t understand.

“I don’t want distractions. I am working as the Speaker of the House of Representatives with a lot of responsibilities on my shoulders right now, any other thing will be a distraction.

“As for Lagos State Governorship, not even thought about it and why? The present governor of Lagos State is doing a good job,” he stated.

READ ALSO: I Have No Immediate Plan To Be Lagos Governor – Gbajabiamila

Since then, the Speaker has remained mute, while the clock continues to tick. Some political observers have also insinuated that his supporters are in a state of confusion.

A visit to his Surulere Constituency in Lagos, also indicates that there’s nothing concrete to indicate that he is running for any office or that he is been ‘pressured’ to do so.

THE GAC INTERVENTION

About two weeks ago, the Governors’ Advisory Council (GAC), the apex decision-making body of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State, approved a second term bid for Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Accordingly, the Lagos State APC Spokesman, Seye Oladejo, is reported to have confirmed the decision, “Yes it’s true. Well deserved.”

And if anyone remained in doubt on the position of the All Progressives Congress National Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on a possible emergence of Gbajabiamilas as Governor; the former Lagos Governor endorsed the incumbent and his deputy, Femi Hamzat for a second term.

THE TINUBU FACTOR

At the end of a Lagos APC stakeholders meeting held in the Alausa area of the State, Tinubu held up the hands of both men signifying his personal endorsement of the duo. The development effectively put to rest Gbajabiamila’s chances of becoming Governor in 2023.

Tinubu, who is also vying to fly the flag of the APC as its Presidential Candidate is described in some quarters as ‘The Lagos Godfather.’ Being a political benefactor to many, he has been instrumental to the rise of many of his loyalists to prominent appointive and elective positions in the South West region as well as at the federal level.

He was by miles also instrumental to the emergence of Femi Gbajabiamila as the Speaker of the Ninth House of Representatives and has stood by him through thorns. Especially, after a previously unsuccessful attempt to be head of the green chamber in 2015; courtesy of the Yakubu Dogara tsunami.

WHERE ARE THE SUPPORTERS?

Again, in line with these times where supporters of prominent politicians appear to be more generous than ever; purchasing forms in tens and hundreds of millions, one wonders where the myriad of ‘Gbaja’s supporters’ are.

Consent or not. How difficult is it that no one group has volunteered to purchase either a Governorship or Senatorial form for the Speaker? Why hasn’t any group given him an ultimatum to declare or risk being sued in court?

Senate President Ahmad Lawan despite running against the tide in the All Progressives Congress (APC) where the feeling of the 2023 presidency going to the South is the mood of the party, has received commendable support from fellow Senators in view of his presidential ambition.

“In the absence of a South Easterner being president of Nigeria in 2023, I have my full support for a North Easterner. This is because it would be the closest to the equity, fairness, and justice everyone is talking about. It further means that justice is on its way to the South East.”
– Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu

Surprisingly, unlike Lawan, one cannot but wonder where the Speaker’s colleagues who voted for him during the 2019 Speakership election currently are.

THE PRESIDENCY FACTOR

Therefore, given the current developments, Gbajabiamila might just be warming up to return to the House but patiently watching how the intrigues would play out.

If that’s clear, the question would then be, will the political calculations in the APC and the incoming 10th National Assembly favour the emergence of another lawmaker from the South West as Speaker?

Besides, a number of political heavyweights from the zone are in contention for the position of the party’s Presidential ticket; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Gbajabiamila’s political mentor, Bola Tinubu, Chair of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Kayode Fayemi, and others.

READ ALSO: Lawmakers reject life pension for Gbajabiamila, Lawan, Saraki, Others

POWER SYNDROME

Gbajabiamila is one of Nigeria’s most consistent parliamentarians that have risen through the ranks and one to emulate in terms of leadership and his numerous achievements as a legislator. He has shown doggedness, vibrancy, quality representation and is seen by most Nigerians as one of the most intelligent lawmakers that the National Assembly has  ever produced. 

To his credit, he has sponsored important bills and motions like 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.

His role as Minority Leader and later, Majority Leader during the tenure of Aminu Tambuwal; Nigeria’s first Speaker from an opposition lawmaker cannot be over-emphasised. He indeed played a key role that led to the mass defection of lawmakers from the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party into the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), now All Progressives Congress (APC).

As Speaker, Gbajabiamila has also led the House for the past two years and a half in an very peaceful and largely progressive manner to the envy of many. 

It is common knowledge however, that most politicians in this part of the world, having enjoyed the humungous perks of being a top political office holder, desire to remain in power or ultimately relevant at the expiration of their tenure.

SINS OF THE PREDECESSORS

So, would Gbajabiamila be willing to commit the same sin as his predecessors?

Would he want to toe the path of former Senate President, David Mark, who though secured re-election into the Eighth Assembly, failed to emerge as the head of the red chamber for a third consecutive time?

The development thus left him stranded as a floor member and as such, absent from legislative activities for most of his last four years at the Senate?

Will Gbaja stage a comeback like former Speaker, Yakubu Dogara who returned to the National Assembly after winning a turbulent race to become head of the green chamber? Hoping to be re-elected by his colleagues, he lost all grounds to muster such ambition; seeing as his PDP didn’t form the majority in the House.

Like Senator Mark, Dogara was referred to by many, as a bench warmer after missing the opportunity to bow out honourably at that crescendo, given the political mindset our politicians have in this part of the world. Interestingly, he has also remained near irrelevant in the political scene as at today. 

The party primaries are only a matter of days away, it is near safe to conclude that the Speaker won’t be seeking re-election for a 5th term in the House or seeking a higher office.

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