Lawmakers to Adopt Secret Ballot to Frustrate Tinubu, May Dump Gbajabiamila for Wase
Largely excoriated for his alleged lack of acceptable human relations, the ambition of the House of Representatives speakership-hopeful, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, may be deeply under the waters, judging by feelers from his colleagues in the South-West and particularly in Lagos State, where he hails.
Representing Surulere 1 Federal Constituency, the lawmaker, who is the current Majority Leader of the Lower chamber, is believed to be the anointed of Senator Bola Tinubu, his political godfather and the national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the party with the majority in the chamber.
Tinubu pushed him for the same seat in 2015, but the fourth-term lawmaker, lost to the incumbent Speaker, Yakubu Dogara.
He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2003.
Reports gathered from APC inner circle Saturday night that Tinubu had been having a hard time selling the speakership candidature of Gbajabiamila to many Reps-elect from Lagos, who are expected to help in pulling their colleagues, both of APC and of other opposition parties, from the South-West, into the agenda.
Apparently aware of the poorly-guarded animosity towards the Gbaja agenda from many of the elected lawmakers from Lagos and the unfavourable feelers from the rest of the South-Western states, the unveiled threat of expulsion made by Tinubu on Friday, was said to be largely meant to douse the growing mutiny at home.
Speaking at an event of Friday, Tinubu vowed that elected parliamentarians from APC, who refused to vote those picked by the party for the Senate presidency and House of Representatives speakership, would be sent packing from the party.
The statement had generated a lot of negative reactions across political divides, with many describing it as unguarded, with the potential to hurt the Gbaja agenda.
Senators and House of Representatives of the PDP hue voted against Tinubu’s candidates for the two top jobs in the National Assembly in 2015 and feelers from the present crop of the minority party parliamentarians suggest a possible repeat, though the leading opposition party is also rumoured to be considering fielding candidates for the two major seats.
The national leadership of the party is, however, yet to make an official statement on how the party lawmakers would likely vote on the day of the inauguration of the Ninth assembly.
A senior APC member in Lagos told Sunday Tribune that the personality of Tinubu’s choice was more of the problem and not whether South-West should have the speaker’s slot, despite having the VP slot, currently filled by Pastor Yemi Osinbajo.
“Gbaja o niwa (Femi Gbajabiamila is not of qualitative personality),” the senior party member told a reporter, adding that “this (pushing his candidacy through) will be difficult. Even our people (Lagos Reps-elect) are not buying into the agenda.
“Everybody knows he can’t relate well, so how is this (his speakership agenda) going to be possible? Our people (Lagos Reps-elect) are already shifting loyalty to (Ahmed Idris) Wase, the fellow from Plateau (State),” he said.
It was learnt that in order to mask their preference, majority of the elected lawmakers from Lagos and South-West at large would likely join forces with lawmakers from other geo-political zones, who are also seeking to disobey the party’s position on the two seats, to demand secret balloting in electing the next speaker.
In 2015, secret balloting was also adopted, with Dogara dusting Gbajabiamila.
The party is yet to make a formal pronouncement on the zone to produce the speaker and the lawmaker being chosen to have it.
The national leadership of the party had claimed it was doing personality zoning by locking definite names, to available parliamentary top positions.
Considering the chummy working relationship between Tinubu and the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, the position is expected to be zoned to the South-West and Gbajabiamila, in particular.
Wase has been representing Wase Federal Constituency of Plateau State since 2007.
He is a Muslim like Gbajabiamila.
The religious factor may work against Wase, among those pushing for a speaker from the North-Central, who expected a Christian like Dogara, to emerge as a balance to the power equation.
Except Orji Uzor Kalu, who threatened to join the senate presidency race if not given the deputy senate president slot, the remaining top contenders for the number three seat are Muslims, with one of them expected to emerge.
Senator Ahmed Lawan is the party’s choice.
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