FEMI GBAJABIAMILA: From Speaker to President Tinubu’s Chief of Staff

NewsroomMay 15, 20244 min

Only one man in the history of Nigeria’s National Assembly has been Minority Leader, Majority Leader and Speaker of the House of Representatives. In this EX-NASS MEMBERS SERIES, Esther Adedoyin writes on Femi Gbajabiamila.

Gbajabiamila
Femi Gbajabiamila

Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila attended Mainland Preparatory School for his elementary education and then Igbobi College, where he completed his secondary education in 1973. He continued his studies at King William’s College on the Isle of Man, United Kingdom, for his A-Level qualifications. Gbajabiamila then pursued a Bachelor of Law (LL.B.) degree at the University of Lagos, graduating with honours in 1983. He was called to the Nigerian bar in 1984.

He began his legal career at Bentley Edu & Co. law firm in Lagos before establishing his firm, Femi Gbaja & Co. He furthered his legal education by earning a Juris Doctor from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School in Georgia, USA. After passing the Georgian bar exam in 2001, he set up a law practice in Atlanta. During his time in the USA, he reportedly participated in the election of Bill Campbell, who later became Mayor of Atlanta.

Foray into politics

Upon his return to Nigeria, Gbajabiamila was elected to the House of Representatives in 2003, representing Lagos State’s Surulere I federal constituency. He served for five consecutive terms of four years each and was elected for the sixth term from which he resigned and directly switched the field of play in public service. He operated from the minority aisle of the parliament for three of these five terms and rose to the apex of legislative leadership when he switched to the majority aisle. Vocal, fearless, tactical and persuasive as an opposition politician, Gbajabiamila defended the interest of his party unreservedly and often criticised party-switching among National Assembly members, at least until he became the biggest beneficiary at some point. All through this journey, he stayed course with the ‘progressives’ in the mutation from the Alliance for Democracy (AD) to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), maintaining loyalty to the leader of the pack, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, now President of Nigeria.

Minority – Majority leader

He held various leadership positions, including Minority Leader in the 7th National Assembly, Majority Leader in the 8th Assembly and Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 9th National Assembly. He chaired several committees and is known for his dedication to addressing national issues.

READ ALSO: BIG ISSUE: Can Laguda surpass the achievements of Gbajabiamila

While serving in the House, Gbajabiamila demonstrated his commitment to improving the lives of Nigerians by sponsoring several notable and controversial bills. These included the Students’ Loan (Access to Higher Education) Bill, 2019; the Physically-Challenged (Empowerment) Bill, 2019; the Criminalisation of Estimated Billing System Bill, 2019; the Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill, 2020, and the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, 2020, among others. He also had controversies, including alleged inappropriate conduct while practising law in the US. He was once criticised for announcing his attendance at a foreign education programme when lecturers were on strike in Nigeria.

amendment
Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila

Mr. SPEAKER

Under his leadership, the House of Representatives remained proactive in addressing challenges. Notably, the House passed the Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill to provide tax relief for qualified corporations, defer mortgage obligations for millions of Nigerians, and enhance the nation’s capacity to acquire essential medical equipment, testing kits, and personal protective equipment needed to combat the coronavirus effectively.

In October 2022, then-President Muhammadu Buhari awarded Gbajabiamila the Nigerian national honour of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR). This recognition was for his outstanding service as a lawmaker and Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Chief of Staff Femi Gbajabiamila

Chief of Staff

With over two decades of service in the House of Representatives, Gbajabiamila resigned from the House on June 14, 2023, to assume the role of Chief of Staff to President Bola Tinubu. Call it the reward for loyalty and you will not be wrong.

Newsroom

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