A female aspirant to the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nkiru Onyejeocha, has called on Femi Gbajabiamila to step down for her.
Ms Onyejeocha, a third term member from Abia State, made the appeal at the National Assembly on Tuesday while briefing journalists.
The two are of the All Progressives Congress (APC) which is expected to produce the next crop of national assembly leaders having emerged the majority party in the two chambers.
The ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) recently adopted Mr Gbajabiamila as its choice for the office at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday last week.
But the Abia lawmaker has appealed to Mr Gbajabiamila from Lagos State to ‘make due sacrifice’ by giving up his ambition to become speaker “for Nigeria to move forward.”
She urged the party to have a rethink and zone the speakership to the South-east.
She said while she respects the party’s decision, Mr Gbajabiamila should “as a leader pay the sacrifice” for Nigeria to get to the next level.
“I respect my party chairman and what the party has said it intends to do. But I am appealing to them, it is not yet late to withdraw their decision and include a woman from the two geopolitical zones left out in 2015.
“I know that the leader of the house, Femi Gbajabiamila, is a good gentleman and good leader, but there is a time when any man who is a leader indeed to make the needed sacrifice and that time is now for the leader of my party in the House of Representatives.
“This opportunity comes only once when a leader will look at himself and say, ‘It’s not about me, it’s about Nigeria. I also believe that Nigeria needs healing and somebody has to pay the sacrifice for us to move to the next level, even if it means deciding that speakership should go to another zone.”
She said zoning the speakership to the South-east will address the “demand for equity” from the zone.
“As a woman who has distinguished herself and contributed immensely to the development of Nigeria, the APC should use the opportunity of my expression of interest in the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives to fulfil its promise to Nigerians, that it would increase women participation in the governance of the country.”
Mr Gbajabiamila, representing Surulere 1 federal constituency, was re-elected for the fifth term. He currently serves as the House Leader.
The APC leadership recently declared support for Yobe senator, Ahmed Lawan, to become the next Senate President. The party is also 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 APC 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 seven members that have indicated interest in the position of Speaker.
Mr Gbajabiamila is however considered the leading candidate.