The Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, will today formally declare his intention to vie for the office of Speaker of the House of Representatives in the ninth assembly.
The event is holding at the Lagos/Osun hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
The lawmaker, who represents Surulere II federal constituency of Lagos State in the House of Representatives, would be a fifth term member in the next assembly.`
His declaration is coming two days before his party, All Progressives Congress (APC), meets to decide on who to back for the exalted position.
The APC leadership recently declared support for Yobe senator, Ahmed Lawan, to become the next Senate President. The party is also believed to be in support of Mr Gbajabiamila’s candidacy for Speaker.
The adoption of Mr Lawan was condemned by some APC lawmakers including Borno senator, Ali Ndume, who also seeks to be the Senate president.
Mr Ndume, from Borno State, has vowed to continue with his ambition, saying he enjoys the support of many elected APC senators.
The APC enjoys a clear majority in the incoming House of Representatives, winning over 200 of the 360 seats.
The party is expected to produce the Speaker, but as it happened in 2015, a different candidate other than that endorsed by the party leadership may contest the election.
While both Messrs Lawan and Gbajabiamila were endorsed by the party for the positions in 2015, Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara emerged as the Senate President and Speaker of the House respectively.
The two winners later defected from the APC to the PDP.
So far, there are at least 10 members that have indicated interest in the position of Speaker.
Mr Gbajabiamila is however considered the leading candidate.
Stay with PREMIUM TIMES for live updates of the proceedings at Mr Gbajabiamila’s declaration.
Some current members and some newly-elected members of the House have already arrived the venue of the official declaration
Prominent amongst the members present are former special adviser to the president on National Assembly (Reps) Kawu Sumaila who is also a member elect, leader of the North-East caucus, Tahir Mongono, Abdulmumin Jibrin and Nasir Ali-Ahmed.
Femi Gbajabiamila arrives the venue in company of several other members.
2:59pm. The programme starts with the National Anthem.
The event is being anchored by another Rep member, Magaji Dau-Aliyu (Jigawa, APC)
Magaji Aliyu reciting the opening prayers
Abdulmumin Jibrin addressing the audience at the official declaration of Femi Gbajabiamila
Abdulmumin Jibrin is pleading with other contestants to in the interest of the House, run a clean campaign, free of character assassination.
“Femi Gbajabiamila will also ensure the independence of the legislature and at the same time the interdependence of the legislature” – Abdulmumin Jibrin
Femi Gbajabiamila, flanked by other members and members-elect, just mounted the podium to deliver his declaration speech.
While delivering his speech, Femi Gbajabiamila thanked his colleagues for making it to the declaration.
He particularly thanked members of the opposition PDP, APGA and APM whom he said also made it to the event.
Khadija Bukar, former minister of state for foreign affairs, while responding on behalf of the North-east lawmakers-elect said her zone is compliant with whatsoever the party decides.
“We stand by whatsoever the party says,” she said.
A PDP member from Osun State, Wole Oke, while delivering his remark said he has known Mr Gbajabiamila for some time and has been notified personally by him of his intention to contest.
He said there is nobody in the House that is more qualified for the job than Mr Gbajabiamila.
“We from the southwest are giving you one of our best”
“I, Wole Oke will be with him all through,” he said.
The Chief Whip of the House and leader of the North-West caucus, Alhassan Doguwa, while responding on behalf of the North-West, said with Abdulmumin Jibrin as the Director-General, Mr Gbajabiamila’s team is headed for victory.
“One secret about you, when someone sees you from afar, you look very terrible in the face but coming closer, you are a very simple person,” Alhassan Doguwa says
Three elected lawmakers from AA and APGA, while delivering their remarks, pledged their support and loyalty to Mr Gbajabiamila.
Kawu Sumaila, a member of the House of Reps, said the House members are ready to work with Mr Gbajabiamila. He described his support as beyond party politics, saying he is the best among others.
Jerry Alagbaso of the PDP while giving his remarks said there is no doubt Mr Gbajabiamila is the most qualified member but he needs more consultations.
“For me, I’m going to support you, provided you see me.”
The programme is set to come to an end as Musa Sarki-Adar (Sokoto, APC) steps to the podium to deliver a vote of thanks.