Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house of representatives, says he regrets supporting the process that produced Aminu Tambuwal as speaker in 2011.
Gbajabiamila spoke on Wednesday at a meeting with reps-elect organised in Abuja.
The speaker said he supported the “house project” that “installed” Tambuwal at the time — but he now regrets his decision.
He told the members-elect not to go against the decision of the party on the zoning formula for the leadership of the house of representatives.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) had nominated Tajudeen Abbas and Benjamin Kalu as the preferred candidates for the position of speaker and deputy.
Gbajabiamila said the party is supreme and the lawmakers’ loyalty to the APC should not be in doubt.
“I stand before you here as a testament to what party loyalty and consistency can do in your life. I have a story to tell and I am sure everybody has one story or the other to tell. My story may not be unique. I came here on the platform of a party,” he said.
“We don’t have independent candidacy in Nigeria. It’s not in our constitution or laws. Perhaps, one day, we will get to that point. But my core belief is that if you come here on the platform of a party, there is a saying all over the world that your party is always supreme.
“You will disagree with your party just like people will disagree amongst family members, but at the end of the day, the party is an organised structure. Let no one kid you. I am here to offer advice. I have been the pioneer leader of what they call the house project at one time when we installed Tambuwal as the speaker. I regret it.”
In 2015, Yakubu Dogara was elected speaker of the house — a move that was against the preference of the APC.
Gbajabiamila was the preferred candidate of the ruling party at the time.
The party successfully got its way in 2019 when Gbajabiamila was elected to the number four position in the country.
The speaker said nominating a candidate to lead the house should not be seen as an imposition.
“Nobody is compromising the independence of the legislature. The last person that will do it is me. But the fact that your party says this is where we are going, it doesn’t mean you are compromising the independence of the legislature,” he said.
“Many of us are new here. People will talk to you. They will cajole you, and say all sorts of things in flowery and romantic language but at the end of the day, we have to be mindful of one thing. The party we represent has its leaders. The governors from the states, whether we like it or not, are very powerful. You can do your bidding today. I share these things just to advise from my own experience.
“In 2015, I ran for the speakership of the house of representatives. The party nominated me. The whole world was sure that I was going to win that race. We lost by about six votes. A few of our party members worked against me and combined with the PDP at the time. Four years later, I ran again and won that election with 284 votes, the highest in the history of the Nigerian parliament.”