The All Progressives Congress caucus in the House of Representatives has said it will abide by the decision of the ruling party on those to lead the 9th National Assembly.
Emerging from a closed-door meeting after the plenary session was adjourned on Tuesday, the leader of the caucus and Majority Leader of the House, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, who addressed journalists after the meeting in company with some other APC lawmakers, said they were focused on pending national assignments and not struggle for leadership.
It was reported that barely one week after the National Assembly membership elections were held, some lawmakers had begun to lobby for leadership positions.
The APC, which has retained its majority status, is said to be considering how to zone principal offices of the chambers to geopolitical zones. The ruling party is also said to be considering presenting its choice candidates in 2015 again as leaders of the National Assembly in 2019.
Answering a question on those to become the leaders of the next federal legislature, Gbajabiamila said, “We are not focused on that right now; it is very important but we have left that. The party will take a decision on which way it will go. It is what obtains everywhere in the world. The party will decide. As we concede to the emergence of democracy, we will concede to the supremacy of the party.”
Gbajabiamila, while pacifying members who lost in the elections, said the lawmakers were back to legislative business.
“There have been many disappointments on all sides as many of our colleagues have lost out across the divides during this electoral process. However, we must bow to the emergence of our democracy as the supremacy of the will of the people. We have lost good legislators with whom we have formed strong bonds and enduring relationships. But we urge them to accept the loss as good democrats and as men and women with abiding faith in God’s will.
“It is now time to get back to people’s business. There is so much work to be done in a very little time. The budget is pending; the bill on estimated billing and many other such legislative initiatives that directly affect Nigerians must be attended to. There cannot and should not be a break and our priority must be the welfare of the people we represent,” he said.
Meanwhile, some members of the APC caucus have expressed their readiness to prevent Gbajabiamila from becoming the Speaker in the 9th National Assembly billed for inauguration in June.
The lawmakers, who are mostly from the northern part of the country, have raised two main issues against Gbajabiamila, who was the preferred candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress for the position in 2015 before he eventually became the House Leader.
The lawmakers, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, believed that voting against Gbajabiamila would prevent the national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, from gaining more control of the party.
According to them, Tinubu will have a grip on the federal parliament as part of his political empire, should Gbajabiamila become the speaker.
A member of the APC caucus in the House, who is from the North-East, said, “There are people who feel that Asiwaju will be President in 2023; therefore, those who are aspiring for the same office will not want Gbajabiamila to become the speaker because that will oil the political machine of Asiwaju.
“It is not that Gbajabiamila has offended these members for any reason, no; he is just carrying the burden of someone else. This is not his fault.”
Another member of the caucus also accused Gbajabiamila of failing to provide popular leadership at the caucus level.
The lawmaker said, “Apart from the fact that he (Gbajabiamila) is likely to face the problem of Tinubu (as his sponsor), the second problem he is likely to face is that up till now, members of the House are not too comfortable with the leadership style of Femi.
“There are people who supported him earlier but after the election (which Dogara won), he did not treat them the way they expected him to treat them when he became the leader of the caucus. When you are contesting in an election, before the election, people have high hopes on you; but by the time you get into office, they will start counting your negative deeds.
“When he became leader and they were distributing committees, some felt he did not play a major role in assigning to them, so why should they make him speaker now? But that does not mean he does not have supporters. However, there are those who are not happy with him.”