By Gloria Ikibah
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has commended members of the House of Representatives Press Corps for its critical role in the 9th Assembly through its cooperative efforts and objective reportage on on the activities of the Parliament.
Speaker Gbajabiamila made the commendation during a courtesy visit by the members of the Corps and presentation of congratulatory card for his re-election in the just concluded National Assembly elections
Gbajabiamila who will be returning to the 10th Assembly as a member will not be holding any principal position in the House, especially as the ruling All Progressive Congress APC, intends to zone the position of Speaker to the North Central geopolitical zone, said the presidential and National Assembly elections were mainly about ethnicity and religion rather than performance.
He said: “It was a hard won battle not just for me but for many of our colleagues on the floor there. All 360 of us. Many were unlucky. Some were lucky. I used the word ‘lucky' deliberately because this election was not as it should be, not so much about the performance of members whether on the floor or in their constituencies. It was about a lot of other things. It was about religion. It was about ethnicity. It was about so many other things which I hope that as we develop as a nation, one's election would be based solely, or at least mostly on his or her performance on the floor and in the constituency.
“That is what I hope would happen as we move along and that is why he mentioned the Electoral Act that was just passed. That is why I fought tooth and nail to make sure the Electoral Act adopted strictly the direct mode for primaries because of elections. Even though at the general elections members lost, a lot of members actually lost their elections at the primaries, where their acceptance by the constituents was not put to test. What was put to test was what one or two leaders in their constituencies determined whether they were returning or not. So we lost a lot of legislators even at the primaries level, and that does not help our democracy.
“So hopefully moving forward, we would perfect that document, the Electoral Act, which many people have celebrated but still not perfect yet. Hopefully we would be able to perfect it. So I thank you profusely for all the support you have given us, myself, the leadership and the House. Over the years, the last four years, you are part of this institution and I have enjoyed working with. I would continue to enjoy working with you. As many of you know, I would probably be a floor member now, which is how our democracy works. But being a floor member is not about what position you occupy but it is about what you contribute to law making and governance and I will continue to do that irrespective of wherever I find myself.
“My colleagues have been very supportive. I have through no magic of mine but through the benevolence of God been able to hold the House together and hold my colleagues together, which in itself is a tall order if you follow the National Assembly over the years. Managing 359 other members is not an easy thing and I have always said that if you can be the Speaker of the Nigerian parliament you can thrive in any organization anywhere in the world. God has been so good that together with my colleagues, one has been able to do that. My hope is that whoever comes in as the next Speaker would be able to continue in that trajectory and build on the foundations that we have laid for the institution and even do better. So I thank you.”
Earlier the Chairperson, Comrade Grace Ike, congratulated the Speaker on his victory at the elections.
She applauded the Speaker for ensuring everyone is carried along, as well as his contribution to lawmaking and governance.
Ike also commended him particularly for his efforts to the successful passage of the Electoral Act, which would ensure the right leaders and chosen by the people.
She assured that the Corps will continue do its best to ensure the progress of democracy in the country.