Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Former leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, yesterday, polled 281 votes to emerge speaker at an inaugural session presided over by the Clerk of the National Assembly (CNA), Mohammed Ataba-Omolori.
In what observers have described as a landslide victory, Gbajamibiala’s rival, Umar Bago, only managed to garner only 76 votes.
Former Deputy House Leader, Idris Maje Wase emerged unopposed as the deputy speaker.
The All Progressives Congress ( APC) had endorsed the Gbajabiamila as its preferred candidate for the speakership seat, amidst protests by some lawmakers, who questioned the rationale for zoning the position to the South West, where Vice President Yemi Osinbajo hails from.
The Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) had on Tuesday morning endorsed Bago, a member of the APC from Niger State, as its candidate for the leadership of the Green Chamber, and asked its members to vote him.
However, the opposition party members did not deliver the Niger-born lawmaker as directed by their party leadership.
Yesterday’s proceeding commenced with the arrival of the CNA at about 2.32 pm.
Shortly after his arrival, the CNA called the House to order and proceeded to read the proclamation from President Muhammadu Buhari.
Subsequently, the Clerk of the House, Patrick Giwa, did a roll call of all the lawmakers, after which Sani- Omolori called for nomination for the position of speaker.
Following the call for nomination, former chairman, House Committee on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin nominated Gbajabiamila for the position of speaker. The nomination was seconded by Lynda Ikpeazu, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) member from Anambra State.
On the flipside, Yunusa Ahmad, APC member from Gombe State nominated Bago for the speakership seat and was seconded by Mark Gbillah, a PDP lawmaker from Benue State.
Bago stated that his quest to serve as speaker was motivated by the need for fair play, equity and justice as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“This aspiration is not an ambition for Bago, but an an aspiration of a generation, of a people, who have gone to the table to make their demand. This aspiration is guided by the constitutional provisions that offices should reflect federal character. As such, honorable colleagues, we are here to represent our people. Therefore, equity, fairness and justice is what this aspiration stands for,” he stated.
Gbajabiamila while accepting his nomination noted that Jibrin had said all there is to his aspiration.
The former Appropriations Committee chairman had described the new speaker as a consummate lawmaker, who is out to contribute meaningfully to the development of the country.
However, shortly after the commencement of voting, an uproar ensued on the floor of the House, as some lawmakers protested the practice of members showing their votes to one of the speakership candidate. The uproar stalled the voting for some minutes.
However, in his intervention, the CNA said although the National Assembly management had provided an opportunity for lawmakers to cast their votes in secret, whatever members decided to do with their votes was entirely their business.
Earlier, the lawmakers had gone into frenzy following the arrival of the two contenders, with their supporters chanting their names.