APC gave Gbajabiamila, deputy senate president, North-West speaker money to make up for zone

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On Wednesday night, the departing Speaker of the House of Representatives provided insight into the APC’s selection of Tajudeen Abbas as Speaker and Benjamin Kalu as Deputy Speaker of the upcoming 10th National Assembly.


Gbajabiamila gave a speech on Wednesday night in Abuja at a gathering of the Joint Task – 10th Assembly, a grouping of APC and opposition party representatives in the upcoming 10th National Assembly.

Tajudeen Abbas and Benjamin Kalu, the APC’s chosen candidates for Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the 10th House, respectively, had been adopted by the coalition.

Gbajabiamila remembered telling Abbas that he would only follow the APC’s decision, adding, “But as God would have it…I’ll say this because many people believe I deserve more credit and authority than I actually do. Many people believe that I zoned speakership…I zoned and hand-selected. Wish I had those abilities.

“Why North-West?” I questioned the zoners. They advised me to read my political history and pointed out that the North-West, which is the largest voting bloc in Nigeria with seven states, has never fallen outside the top four. I affirmed that I was ignorant.

The Speaker added that the South-West and the North-West were primarily responsible for the APC’s political emergence. “Why would the North-West be excluded from the calculation in my time or in our time? In addition to the fact that they contributed 30% of our votes, there were a number of other reasons why they zoned it to the North-West.

The Vice-President was desired by the North-West, he continued. The incoming president chose to travel to the northeast. Therefore, the least he could do was give them speakership in exchange for the contributions they make. That is all there is to it. I didn’t zone out on it. Would that I could.

Gbajabiamila also recalled how some House members persuaded him to run for re-election as Speaker despite the fact that he is from the same part of Lagos State, in the South-West, as Bola Tinubu, the incoming president.

“My members came to me – many of them and some are seated here today – and told me that they wanted me to run again for Speaker of the House for a second term regardless of whether the President is from the South-West or Lagos.

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Even four weeks ago, two of the front-runners, the aspirants, told me that they would give up their bid for Speaker if I decided to run again. Although it was alluring at the time, you sometimes have to put your country before yourself.

“Even though my members could have decided that was what they wanted, the optics will not be good, so I cannot have a President-elect from Lagos. The most polarizing election in history just ended, and it was very polarizing. How then does one zone take two of the available four spots? Thus, I resisted doing it. If I had taken the bait or bit the bullet, the next Speaker of the 10th Assembly might have been standing in front of you right now.

The Speaker bemoaned the fact that “some people have gone on campaigns trying to run me down,” adding that he has “a good laugh” about it.

He added, “Some people have asked why he would choose someone outside of us in this exclusive group, and I watched it on TV. I will take over as the successor. So why not me? I know that member, why not him? This is the chairman of the committee overseeing appropriations.

“But they fail to remember that in 2015, when I ran for Speaker on two separate occasions, (Yakubu) Dogara was the Speaker at the time, not (Aminu) Tambuwal. Dogara was a floor member, and I, as Minority Leader, was the most senior APC member in that House. No, the roof didn’t collapse. I didn’t say, “I am the most senior, why not me?” and accuse Tambuwal.

“In 2019, Dogara preferred (Mohammed) Bago personally. Since I was the House (Majority) Leader, I refrained from asking, “Why Bago? So why not me? The House Leader is me. That is not how it operates. I have spread joy by what I did. They traveled north-west. They followed my advice and headed South-East. Share the happiness! Cut through! Ben Kalu was in the South-East, I discovered.

Gbajabiamila said he felt bad for organizing a forum that supported Aminu Tambuwal’s election as Speaker of the House in the 7th National Assembly.

As of right now, Tambuwal is the departing two-term governor of Sokoto State.

Gbajabiamila said, remembering previous attempts by speakership candidates to oppose selected candidates of their respective parties, “I regret it.

According to Gbajabiamila, he desired a speaker who could “stand toe-to-toe with any Speaker in the African continent or in the World.” He continued by saying that Abbas had been active behind the scenes, sponsoring 78 bills, 21 of which had been passed into law.

“So, I found someone in Tajudeen who I felt we could be proud of as House of Representatives members,” he said. That is not to say that others lack capacity, but capacity exists in all forms. I won’t be standing here putting people down. I’m friends with everyone. When situations like this arise, the cost of leadership is that your allies turn into your adversaries.

I’ve been reading and hearing all kinds of incredible rumors, and I’m sure you have too. I learned today that I would distribute $15 million. I laughed heartily. I laughed. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, as I previously stated. It is the cost of being a leader. You will keep hearing stories and tissues of lies being spread about you. And that is leadership once more.

The Speaker said, “I want you to trust me. I don’t think I had anything to do with the APC’s zoning plan. Please put your faith in my judgment. I want you to take that step, even if it requires a leap of faith. On this one, rely on my opinion. I can never mislead you—I love the institution, and I love the institution.” My members and I are acquainted.

“My approach to leadership is distinctive. I don’t micromanage; as long as my members are content, even at my expense, I am content. And TJ Abbas exhibits the same qualities, in my opinion.

Aspirants leave the room

Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, a member of the G-7 and one of the candidates working with the APC on its zoning plan, withdrew from the race and resigned in favor of Abbas. The group had promised to support one of its members running for Speaker against Abbas.

Two additional candidates, Makki Yalleman and Olatunji Olawuyi, also endorsed the APC candidate.

“Don’t think that I just happened to show up here. You are not daydreaming, for those of you who believe you are. This is reality, Doguwa said at the podium alongside Yalleman and Olawuyi.

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Sani Jaji, a member of the G-7 from Zamfara State, will nonetheless announce his speakership bid today in Abuja in opposition to the APC’s zoning plan.

Olaide Akinremi, an additional candidate for the speakership from Oyo State, is now Jaji’s campaign’s director-general.

After the APC announced its zoning plan, which favored Tajudeen Abbas from Kaduna State in the North-West for Speaker and Benjamin Kalu from Abia in the South-East for Deputy Speaker, Jaji will be the third member of the G-7 to announce a speakership bid.

Fear the government

Before Gbajabiamila spoke at the meeting on Wednesday night, the APC’s nominee for Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, entered the room with the Speaker, made a brief comment, and then departed.

The former Niger Delta Affairs Minister and Senate Minority Leader stated, “Yesterday, I met the party. In fact, I left them a sentence or something similar. Should I let you finish the sentence? My late mother advised me to be mindful of the three Gs in my daily interactions: the first G is God, the second G is a gun, and the third G is government.

“God Almighty is the first G. What’s the second G? Gun! The government is the third party. May you behave honorably and in accordance with my late mother’s advice by paying due respect to all three Gs, especially the government.


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