Saturday, December 7, 2019
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Is Gbaja’s House going to be Crisis Ridden?

femi gbajabiamila

Jude Opara

The Holy Book says, the house divided against itself, can never stand. If that is true, it goes to show that in every house, concerted efforts must be made by everybody to ensure a sustained peace and tranquility at all times.

But the situation seems to be different with the House of Representatives which has shown traces of an impending crisis that if not handled with maturity could snowball into a huge crisis which, Nigerians will not be ready to witness at this point in time.

Since the inauguration of the House on June 11, it has been nothing but the peace of the graveyard as some lawmakers have continued to frown about the conduct and outcome of the election which saw Femi Gbajabiamila from Lagos State elected as the Speaker.

For a refresher, Gbajabiamila contested the coveted seat with Mohammed Bago from Niger State. Interestingly, both men are strong members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Before the election, there was this controversy over the zoning arrangement of the APC who zoned the position to the South West. Members of the party in the North Central and South East were not happy with that zoning arrangement. Their bone of contention was that since in the hierarchy of government, the South West already had the second position with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, that the same zone will not be given the fourth position while they have not been considered on the principles of equity and fairness.

The North Central in particular went forward to argue that even if zones were been compensated on the amount of votes they gave the party in the presidential election, that they came third behind the North West and North East zones.

In fact it was on that premise that Bago refused to step down for Gbajabiamila even after it became very clear that both the leadership of the party and the presidency were solidly in support of his candidacy.

Before the election of principal officers on the floor of the House on the fateful day, there was an allegation by the camp of Bago that the Gbajabiamila camp had designed a plot to manipulate the process to favour them.

Hon. Mark Gbillah was seen on a national television displaying what he said was a green card already printed and distributed to members for the purposes of rigging the election. He equally claimed that lawmakers have been asked to use their phones to snap their votes to show for an eventual payment.

Curiously, true to the allegation, pictures have gone viral with the honourable lawmakers seen snapping their votes before dropping them into the ballot box.

What is more worrisome about this ugly development is that more than 80% of those who voted were captured snapping their ballot papers in a manner that suggested they were in a hurry to do so.

Last week, the lawmakers sympathetic to Bago principally led by members of the APC have threatened to challenge the outcome of the election in court with the video evidence of vote snapping which violets the letters of the Electoral Act.

Sources alleged that those who showed the picture of their votes were paid to the tune of about $50,000 dollars each.

The whole scenario was even more worrisome as the National Assembly Clerk; Mohammed Sani Omolori was seen in the video watching as the process of the supposed sale of the votes-for-dollars went on.

Lawmakers were said to have been given two ways to sell their votes and get paid. One was to snap a picture of your ballot paper with your chosen candidate and your Green Gbaja card and send to a certain phone number and get paid. The second for those who did not want to openly display their votes was to just show to a designated group who will tick your name in a register so you get your money.

Many analysts have particularly frowned at the development which apart from being in negation with the anti corruption fight of the present government, also poses a great danger to the development of the country.

There is no way the country will be happy if the allegation of vote buying turns to be true because it obviously shows that most of the people we have elected to the lower chamber are mere merchants who are purely after their personal and monetary gains.

The leadership of the APC who are still basking in the euphoria of having the very people they wanted to emerge as the leaders of the National Assembly, should rally to wade into the matter and nip it in the bud. Anything short of that will surely spell doom for the party and by extension the entire country.

The Speaker himself must begin on a serious fence mending mission to appease his aggrieved colleagues because anything short of that may consume him at the end of the day. He must remember that the party may not continue to protect him forever because when the heat becomes so intense, they will wash their hands off him.

Also for the mere fact that Gbajabiamila has been fingered in an alleged stealing $25,000 from a certain Ms Habayatou in the US, he has to ensure that such matters that will further cast aspersion on his credibility do not come to the fore.

Many analysts say given the character of this government that wants to be seen as pure with huge integrity, if the controversies continue to fester, they will simply wash their hands off the Speaker so as to maintain their presumed status.

Another point the Speaker must watch out for is the fact that over the years, the National Assembly and indeed the House of Representatives usually have a way of electing those they wanted as their principal offices. In an event a leadership is forced down on them, they do not waste time in removing such leader with the slightest opportunity.

Two examples will suffice here. In the 7th Assembly, the government then under the control of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) wanted Mulikat Akande to emerge as the Speaker, but the lawmakers shunned them and elected Aminu Tambuwal on the day.

Also in the 6th Assembly, the same party and former President Olusegun Obasanjo had wanted and indeed forced Patricia Etteh on the members, but in a very short while they impeached her and elected Dimeji Bankole as their Speaker.   

Last week, one of the key leaders of the now G70 Representatives who voted for Bago, Hon. Gbillah told the Daily Asset that they have perfected arrangements to go to court to prove that the election of Gbajabiamila was fraught with irregularities including vote buying which he argued is against the Electoral Act.

Certainly, should that happen one will not need a soothsayer to know that the House will be thrown into a huge crisis which nobody knows what the outcome will look like. Therefore Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila must humble himself, and reach out to his aggrieved colleagues to avoid beginning with a House of commotion.

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