Ninth Assembly speakership: Gbajabiamila acceptable to APC, opposition members-elect —Adeyemi, S/West coordinator
Honourable Akeem Adeyemi (Skimeh) is the South-West Coordinator of the Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila for Speaker. He speaks with MOSES ALAO on the recent endorsement of Gbajabiamila for speaker by the All Progressives Congress (APC), reaching out to other internal and external interests in the race and other developments ahead of the inauguration of the ninth National Assembly. Excerpts:
Last week the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) finally adopted Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila as the speakership candidate for the Ninth House of Representatives. Do you think this move has finally calmed the frayed nerves in the party over that position?
The leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in its wisdom, after due consultations and consideration vis-a-viz the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC policies, found it worthy to endorse Rt. Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila as the speaker for the House of Representatives in the next session of the National Assembly. That development is acceptable to the generality of APC members-elect. Already, before his endorsement, the speakership ambition of Hon. Gbajabiamila ambition has been a joint task; the members of other political parties elected to the House of Representatives in the AA, ADC, SDP and even some members of PDP, have already aligned with the candidature of Gbajabiamila. So, the endorsement is a welcome development. As the South-West coordinator of Hon. Gbajabiamila for speaker, I am gladdened by the party’s position and we will continue to work towards seeing that the vision materialises when the ninth National Assembly is inaugurated in June.
But members-elect from the North-Central geopolitical have continued to lay claim to the speakership position, with their position already gaining traction in the polity…
The APC has taken care of that. The party has approved the North-Central to produce the next Deputy Speaker of the House and this has been accepted by the majority of APC members-elect from the zone.
Are you saying that the members-elect from the zone, who have signified the intention to contest for speaker, will abide by the party’s position?
Some of them are already aligning with the party.
The major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has 111 members-elect in the House of Representatives and there is the fear that they might team up with dissidents in the APC to sabotage the APC. Are you not afraid of this development?
The number of dissidents and those that will work with them from the opposition will not be enough to thwart the vision of the APC to have Gbajabiamila as speaker. We are working against that.
But there is this talk about a boomerang effect; with the public pronouncements by the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole that opposition lawmakers will not be allowed to take key positions including committee chairmanship…
He didn’t say that.
Oshiomhole once said that PDP would get nothing…
What the national chairman was saying that what belongs to the majority party will not be shared with the minority party. For example, in the outgoing Senate, the majority party was supposed to produce the Senate President and the Deputy Senate President, but because of the alignment [Dr Bukola] Saraki was seeking at that time, a PDP member was made the Deputy Senate President. So, what Oshiomhole was saying that since the majority party didn’t go to take post of minority leader of the Senate or the minority leader of the House, why would the minority party be allowed the position rightfully belonging to the majority party?
Has the Gbajabiamila team been able to clarify this issue and convince the members-elect from the opposition parties that they will not be shut out on committee chairmanship?
We are working on that. There is no way opposition party members will not be given committee chairmanship.
You are sounding quite confident that Hon. Gbajabiamila will get the numbers needed to scale the hurdles ahead…
By the grace of God, I am not only confident; I am sure that Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, the most vibrant, one of the most experienced House of Representatives members, with the highest number of bills and the highest number of contributions, a former minority leader and now Leader of House, will emerge as the next speaker of the House of Representatives.
People have continued to argue that conventionally, the selection or election of National Assembly should be left to legislators and not determined outside the chambers. What is your take on this?
Conventionally, the electorate decides who to vote for but the party nominates the candidates. If the party can nominate Akeem Adeyemi to be the House of Representatives candidate for Oyo Federal Constituency, but the electorate will vote, then the party can have a say or take action on the direction it wants for the National Assembly to align with the Presidency. No party will leave the leadership of the National Assembly in the hands of anybody who will not align with its vision and programmes for the development and progress of the country.
Lawmakers-elect from the ruling party and the opposition have been raising the issue of the Rule Book to be used for voting for the next leaders of the National Assembly. The talks have been about whether it should open or secret ballot system. Have lawmakers-elects arrived at a conclusion on that?
That will be made known to lawmakers-elect at the appropriate time.