The Speaker spoke in defense of his predecessor, Gbajabiamila, describing the corruption allegations as unjustified and baseless.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep. Abbas Tajudeen (APC, Kaduna) has rallied support for his predecessor and former colleague, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Chief of Staff to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, over allegations of corruption against him.
The Speaker, at a world press conference at his office in Abuja on Thursday, noted that there has been a rise in social media dissemination of fake news and slanderous information targeted at the former Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, warning against such acts.
He acknowledged the concerns of Nigerians on the current state of the economy, insecurity, and other issues, assuring them of doubled efforts towards solving them.
The Speaker, however, insisted that as Nigerians navigate through “these tumultuous times,” the importance of unity and constructive engagement could not be overstated, stressing that the synergy between the three arms of the government – Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary – is paramount.
He said: “For this reason, I call on every citizen to engage in positive and constructive criticism. Your voices and opinions are invaluable, providing the compass that guides our actions and policies. At this juncture, ladies and gentlemen of the press, as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, my colleagues and I invite Nigerians to engage critically with us on important national issues. We encourage and welcome criticisms, but these must be constructive and targeted at building national unity and cohesion and advancing development.
“However, while we encourage freedom of expression and constructive dialogue, we must also be wary of the dangers of fake news and campaigns of slander and defamation, especially against the President and senior government officials.”
The Speaker noted that there had been a rise in defamation campaigns on social media involving the deliberate dissemination of false and misleading information with the intent to harm the reputation of individuals or organisations. According to him, these campaigns often target political leaders, seeking to undermine their credibility, integrity, and public trust.
He cited the recent case of “unjustified and baseless allegations” against the Chief of Staff to the President, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, which he said “points to the danger of an unfettered and unaccountable social media.”
He stated: “Such acts not only undermine the integrity of our democracy but also erode the fabric of our national unity. Yet, Femi is just one of the millions of Nigerians who suffer cyberbullying and coordinated campaigns of defamation daily. Too many victims are not as powerful as him to defend themselves.”
“Those of us who have worked with him for over a decade can attest to his patriotism and integrity. His willingness to voluntarily subject himself to an investigation by all security and law enforcement agencies demonstrates his rectitude and honour. I urge the security agencies to work diligently and swiftly to investigate all matters he has raised in his letter to them and inform Nigerians of their findings. If not found guilty, these agencies must fish out those responsible for the character assassination and ensure they are brought before the law.
“It is most unfortunate that someone who has, over the years, built a reputation through hard work and commitment to service, should be damaged by unscrupulous elements. The consistent attempt to pull him down for purely political or personal reasons and without consequence is deeply deplorable,” the Speaker declared.
WATCH: Speaker Abbas in stout defence of Gbajabiamila
On insecurity and cost of living crisis
Speaking on insecurity, the economy, and other national issues, Speaker Abbas noted that the House remains dedicated to “addressing some of the most pressing national issues we face.”
He said: “As the Speaker of the largest representative body in Nigeria, representing all corners of Nigeria, I feel it a duty to address some pressing challenges we face as a nation. The very fabric of our society is being tested, our resilience strained, and our unity challenged. However, amidst these trials, our spirit remains unbroken, and our resolve to overcome and thrive grows stronger.
“As representatives of the Nigerian people, we cannot pay lip service to the plight of the same individuals who elected us into office to protect their interests. It is our resolve to see that Nigerians, wherever they are, live their normal lives in peace and relative ease.”
While noting that the House was “acutely” aware of the rising security challenges affecting different parts of the country, Speaker Abbas said as elected representatives, they also acknowledge the pain and suffering of every family that had been a victim of “brutal crimes and needless violence.”
“Let it be known that your cries have not fallen on deaf ears, and your tears have not gone unseen. We stand in solidarity with every Nigerian affected and commit to deploying robust legislative measures to empower our security agencies, ensure justice, and restore peace and order in our communities,” the Speaker stated.
In the face of such hardships, Speaker Abbas said it was natural to feel a sense of despair and frustration. “The impact of the challenges I have identified above is felt in every home, on every street, and in the hearts of every Nigerian. Yet, it is precisely in times like these that our true strength as a nation is revealed. Our resilience, unity, and indomitable spirit have seen us through difficult times before, and I have no doubt that these qualities will carry us through again,” he said.
To those affected by the scourge of insecurity, the Speaker said: “I want you to know that your government hears you loud and clear. We are taking decisive steps to address the root causes of this menace, deploying both military and diplomatic resources to ensure the safety and security of all Nigerians. It is a complex challenge, one that requires patience and time to resolve, but I assure you that we are making progress.”
On the economic front, Speaker Abbas said the government was equally committed to reversing the downturn and setting the country back on a path of sustainable growth. He noted that the policies of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration were designed to stimulate the economy, encourage investment, and create jobs. “We understand the urgency of the situation and are working tirelessly to alleviate the hardships many of you are experiencing,” he stated.
Speaker Abbas is one of the 12 lawmakers in the spotlight from the House of Representatives who are likely to make headlines and impact in the new year as predicted by OrderPaper.
See the spotlight here.