Leke Baiyewu, Abuja
The Gbajabiamila Speakership Campaign has said President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress have regretted leaving lawmakers to determine the leadership of the 8th National Assembly.
A former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mrs Khajidat Bukar-Ibrahim, who is a spokesperson for the Gbajabiamila Speakership Campaign, said this on Sunday when she featured on Sunday Politics, a current affairs programme by Channels Television, which was monitored by our correspondent in Abuja.
The President and the APC had endorsed the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, as speaker of the 9th National Assembly.
Responding to a question on whether the APC was shopping for a pliable National Assembly leadership, Bukar-Ibrahim said, “No, certainly not. It is not a rubberstamp; the parliament is not a rubberstamp. Everybody was voted in independently and through free, fair and transparent elections.
“I’m sure that the President is not using members to gain popularity among the legislators. But he wants to see that there is unity within the party so that we can use our numbers to win the speakership position and to endorse the proposed candidate, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila.
“Once you go back to the 8th Assembly, there is a lot of regret over what happened. And things didn’t go the way they were supposed to go. I think the President is intervening now. Before the 8th Assembly, he said he could work with anybody and that the members should choose their leaders. But when it came out, it did not augur so well for the party.”
The ex-minister, who is now a member-elect, urged lawmakers to respect the supremacy of the APC’s choices on National Assembly leadership. She noted that the party regretted losing the leadership of the 8th Assembly to those not endorsed by it.
“I think that our dear President who canvassed the entire Nigeria – the 36 states and Abuja – to give us all the necessary supports deserves to be respected, and his views respected on who to adopt, seeing what happened in the 8th Assembly. It is something that we all have regretted. I think that basically, the party has supremacy over any self interests. If they propose a candidate for us, I think we should respect the party more than anything else,” she said.
Asked if she saw the possibility of a leadership tussle in the National Assembly, Bukar-Ibrahim said since the President and the APC had chosen Gbajabiamila, other aspirants and members were meant to support him.
She said, “We were invited to a meeting with Mr President and it was announced that Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila would be the candidate. In the countries around the world, you know that things like this happen; when a party gathers and decides on a candidate, that candidate is who all the other members will support.”