The Majority of Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has replied the governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, over his admission that he worked for the emergence of the current Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, against his bid for the office.
Messrs Dogara and Gbajabiamila jostled for the position of Speaker of the 8th Assembly, which the former won despite stiff opposition from the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the party’s power brokers.
Mr. Tambuwal, who is the immediate past Speaker, said on Sunday that although he had strong affinity with Mr. Gbajabiamila, he, alongside seven other principal officers of the last Assembly, opted for Mr. Dogara.
Mr. Gbajabiamila’s response was contained in a short message to PREMIUM TIMES after his reaction was sought.
“Alhaji Tambuwal has spoken,” he said. “For me I have moved on and I can only wish him the best in his future undertakings. I guess Alhaji Tambuwal has finally spoken.”
Many had expected Mr. Tambuwal to support Mr. Gbajabiamila’s bid given the Lagos lawmaker’s role in his emergence as Speaker of the 7th Assembly. But ironically, he supported Mr. Dogara who opposed his ambition to become Speaker in 2011.
Representative Aliyu Madaki, a staunch supporter of Mr. Gbajabiamila, said it was surprising that Mr. Tambuwal could publicly oppose the Lagos lawmaker.
Mr. Tambuwal had spoken about his role in the emergence of Mr. Dogara when leaders of Sayawa Community of Bogoro and Tafawa Balewa Local Government Areas of Bauchi State paid him a “thank you” visit to show appreciation to him for supporting their kinsman to become speaker.
He had said, “The survival of the legislature as an important arm of government made it imperative that competent hands are headhunted to be its leaders.
“Eight out of ten members of the Body of Principal Officers in the last Assembly supported Dogara’s aspiration,” he said. “Only Hon Femi (Gbajabiamila) and Hon Datti Ahmad supported Femi.
“I have strong affinity with Hon Femi. He was closer to me than Dogara. But when talking about leadership and collective decisions, sentiments have to be put aside. I’m not here to tell you that my support made Dogara the Speaker, no. Two things made Dogara to become the Speaker, one is God and two, Dogara’s competence.”
He continued, “The acknowledgement of Dogara’s competence did not start with me. It started from the time of Hon Patricia and Etteh and Hon Dimeji Bankole when they entrusted him with a sensitive position of the Chairman of House Services Committee.
“The committee is one of the most sensitive in the legislature. Apart from taking care of the welfare of members, the committee oversees all procurement processes. As the Speaker, I only did what my predecessors did by giving Dogara this sensitive position.
“No person, as far as I know, has ever served as chairman of the House Services committee in two dispensations. Dogara broke that jinx. All through my tenure, I brought Dogara close to me because I found in him a person who is competent, accommodating, and with capacity to lead.
“Anyone doubting Dogara’s ability to lead, should ask members of the 7th Assembly how he handled their matter. So we supported Dogara not for any reason but because he was competent to deliver on any task given to him.”