Members and members-elect for the 10th House of Representatives, on Wednesday, failed to honour the invitation of the Speaker, Rep.
Femi Gbajabiamila to launch a campaign for Rep. Abbas Tajudeen, for the position of the Speaker for the 10th Assembly.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the ‘President-elect’, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had adopted Tajudeen, a member representing Zaria Federal Constituency of Kaduna State for the position of Speaker in the next Assembly, to be inaugurated in two weeks’ time.
The zoning of the number four citizen's position to the North-West and the subsequent adoption of Tajudeen, it was gathered, was the idea of the current Speaker, Gbajabiamila.
Some critics believe it is to continue to have a grip on the House of Representatives, thereby making it possible for Tinubu to control the incoming Assembly.
But Gbajabiamila, during a meeting organised Wednesday night by the Joint Task for the 10th Assembly, an umbrella body for the actualisation of Tajudeen's ambition as Speaker, denied ever influencing the choice of the Kaduna-born politician.
"North West geopolitical zone alone contributed 30% of the total votes for APC in the last elections" and "if you conduct proper research, the North-West zone has not been considered for the number four position in the history of our parliament," Gbajabiamila said.
Reporters learnt that he was shocked to see a hall largely filled with support groups, journalists and spectators as the target audience (Members-elect) who possess the voting powers, largely boycotted the meeting.
Sensing that the little number inside the hall might not necessarily be members and members-elect of the House, whom he had sought to address, Gbajabiamila requested an executive session, a move said to be aimed at seeing if he had enough numbers to make his anointed candidate Speaker.
It was found that only 73 members and members-elect honoured the invitation.
The Speaker was seen leaving the Osun Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, just two minutes after asking for an executive session.
A lawmaker who was in attendance told our correspondent, "Gbaja was not happy seeing the number of lawmakers in attendance and I think he has sensed danger, as an experienced politician, that his preferred candidate won't fly.”
Asked if he was going to support Tajudeen, the lawmaker who just won his election under the Labour Party, said he was actually at the meeting, like some of his friends, who got an invitation that Gbajabiamila was going to address both returning and new members. The lawmaker said he soon realised that it was a forum to sell the candidacy of Tajudeen.
"Some of my colleagues understood the reason for the meeting, but innocent me, like few of my friends I interacted with in the hall, didn't get the notion behind the invitation until we got here and we decided to sit and listen to whatever they had to say.
“I was personally disappointed seeing just a few members in attendance because I had thought they got all the votes since it's their party that selected this man for Speaker.
"But since their own members cannot honour their party and most of them stayed off, is it we from the minorities that would support APC? Even though we are more than them in number, we would not be used to project mediocrity or support the composition of a rubber-stamped Assembly. The institution of the National Assembly is supposed to be an independent arm of government and not an appendage of another arm of government.
"The minority caucus has been meeting lately and we shall make our stand known soon. We shall throw our weight behind anyone we feel has the capacity and independent mind to make the 10th House work for the people of Nigeria and not for an individual.”
“We shall support such a person, regardless of any region or state he or she comes from. About 358 members are going to cast their votes to decide the next Speaker and I don't think this number I'm seeing here tonight can make one-quarter of the deciding votes," the member-elect added.