The battle for the speaker of the 10th House of Representatives has taken a different dimension as the relationship between Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and his deputy, Ahmed Idris Wase degenerates by the day.
Wase, who is bitter over the decision of Gbajabiamila to endorse APC’s preferred candidate, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas instead of him has drawn a battle line.
Our correspondent reliably gathered that Wase has stopped attending the pre-plenary leadership meetings since he officially declared his intention to contest for the position last week.
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Similarly, the deputy is no longer joining the speaker in the procession to the plenary, which is the standard practice. Normally, the speaker is accompanied into the chambers by all the principal officers before the commencement of the plenary.
But since last week, Wase has stopped accompanying the speaker into the chambers. Rather, he comes alone and takes his seat on the floor.
A returning APC member who drew the attention of New Telegraph to the development said: “I want to confirm to you that the deputy speaker has taken the fight for speakership to another level. I can’t imagine how angry he is. I hope you media are taking note that since last week after his (Wase) declaration, we are told he has stopped attending pre-plenary meetings with the speaker and body of principal officers.
“You will notice that even today (Tuesday) if you were here (chambers), he wasn’t on the speaker’s procession to the plenary. Or did you see him when the speaker was coming in? No! But I say this is puerile because the speaker has the right to support whoever he wants to succeed him. So, how can the deputy speaker be taking this to be a personal fight between him and Speaker Gbajabiamila”
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Continuing, the lawmaker said “This is part of why he can’t be speaker because he doesn’t have the temperament to relate with people. But when we honourable members take decisions, we will be criticized and attacked but we know ourselves. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas cannot behave this way. It’s so disappointing”
The member-elect also alleged that Wase and his group had last week made an attempt to amend the House Rules in order to return the voting pattern to secret balloting but they foiled the plan.
“He is just looking for ways to express his anger and spite the speaker. Even last week, he and his group made an attempt to re-amend the House Rules so that voting on that day will be by secret balloting. But it failed because we got wind of the plan and frustrated them. How can a man who is so desperate be able to handle the House as a speaker?”, he queried.
CityMirrorNews reports that Deputy Speaker Wase was conspicuously missing Tuesday morning when Speaker Gbajabiamila and other members of the leadership walked into the chambers for plenary. He avoided the speaker’s procession.
It will be recalled that Wase had penultimate Wednesday led the G-7 aggrieved aspirants to the APC national secretariat where he openly accused Speaker Gbajabiamila of being behind the choice of Hon. Tajudeen Abbas and undermining other aspirants.
He told the national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu and his leadership that “It may interest the chairman and members of the NWC while we are doing the campaign an attempt was made by the speaker (Gbajabiamila) to call us. We respectfully went there, we sat and when he said he wanted us to come up with a consensus and build with him. We said ‘Yes, fine, we are willing to do that.’ We took pictures we sent to the world and we agreed.
“But after that meeting, there was another meeting, and in that meeting, I made bold to tell the speaker, ‘We are told you are rooting for this particular person’ but he swore to us and swore to God that it was not so. I said, ‘No, it is in the public domain’. He said, ‘No, it’s not true.’
“The speaker, alone, cannot produce speaker, and deputy speaker. I came into the National Assembly in 2007.
Meanwhile, at a meeting with the Joint Task -10th Assembly coalition and members-elect last Wednesday, Speaker Gbajabiamila explained that he chose Abbas ahead of other aspirants because of his competence, capacity and loyalty to the party. He said Abbas had what it takes to sustain their legacies.
According to him, apart from being a loyal party man that would not betray the party, Abbas has the requisite capacity to lead the House. “If I don’t support you today, we all have to fear God, it’s for a reason. It’s not because I have a problem with you. It’s not because I don’t like you. It’s because as I stand here today, for those who know me, I just won my sixth term, perhaps the oldest legislator except for one.
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“It’s because I eat, drink, and sleep and wake up with the legislature in my heart. That’s my constituency and I love that institution such much.
“So, I decided to support a person that’s least close to me of everybody that is running because I saw in him a man with tremendous capacity.”
He said “I stand before you here as a testament to what party loyalty and consistency can do in your life. I have a story to tell and I am sure everybody has one story or the other to tell. My story may not be unique. I came here on the platform of a party.
“We don’t have an independent candidacy in Nigeria. It’s not in our constitution or laws. Perhaps, one day we will get to that point. But my core belief is that if I come here on the platform of a party, there is a saying all over the world that your party is always supreme”, he stated.
Continuing, Gbajabiamila noted that “The incoming speaker will tell you more of the travails and the problems we went through for 4 years when we did that the first and the second time. And I want you to hold that in stark comparison to what the last 4 years have been.
“Now, when you look at those two sessions and the last one that is just rounding off, you have the benefit of being able to compare, and then, you take an informed decision. Not when somebody comes and tells you no, no, the independence of the legislature cannot be compromised, that’s hogwash. Nobody is compromising the independence of the legislature.
“The last person that will do it is me. But the fact that your party says this is where we are going, doesn’t mean you are compromising the independence of the legislature.
“Many of us are new here, people will talk to you. They will cajole you, and say all sorts of things in flowery and romantic language but at the end of the day, we have to be mindful of one thing- the party we represent has its leaders. The governors from the state whether we like it or not, are very powerful. You can do your own personal bidding today.
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