Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Leader, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, is in support of his speakership bid.
Gbajabiamila equally stated that he has opened negotiations with incumbent Speaker Yakubu Dogara and leaders of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), especially the governors and other contenders for the speakership seat.
Gbajabiamila, who spoke through the Director General of his campaign organisation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, at a press briefing in Abuja, yesterday, said El-Rufai is playing a key role in ensuring that members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) respects the party’s position as it concerns the zoning of the position of speaker and deputy of the House in the ninth Assembly.
Recently, there have been insinuations that El-Rufai is mobilising lawmakers and northern political leaders to scuttle Gbajabiamila’s speakership bid as a way of whittling down the influence of former Lagos governor, Bola Tinubu in the politics of the country ahead of the 2023 polls.
The Kaduna State governors, apparently making reference to Tinubu, who controls the politics of Lagos State, had last week given tips on how to dethrone godfatherism in Lagos.
However, Jibrin said the public should be able to draw a line between El-Rufai’s comment and his support for Gbajabiamila.
“El-Rufai is fully in this project. You need to find a thin line, separating where he makes a comment and his involvement in this campaign. In fact, El-Rufai takes a chunk portion of credit for putting this team together, organising members towards the line of party instruction. He is not against Gbajabiamila. When I say he is involved, I mean he is really involved. And he might have probably be quoted out of contest.”
The campaign DG claimed that majority of members of the House in the ninth assembly have pledged to vote Gbajabiamila as speaker, with Deputy House leader, Idris Wase as deputy speaker.
He expressed optimism that at the inauguration of the ninth assembly next month, no member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) would challenge Gbajabiamila for the speakership seat.
“Interestingly, we have large members of the PDP and other opposition parties, who have indicated interest, written interest, that they are with us. We are reaching out to everyone.
“We are in consultation with the opposition party. We are also engaging stakeholders of the opposition party, their elected officials, governors and all the rest. We have also opened consultation with past leaders of the House, reaching out to all the past speakers of the House.
“Also, very significant is the fact that we are saying lobbying the incumbent, Speaker Dogara. We appreciate the value he can bring on board. We are also being realistic. We are very practical in our campaign. He is the sitting speaker. He has a support base. We are reaching out to him, opening up negotiations with him. We are pretty sure we will be able to reach an understanding with him.
“We are talking with all the other candidates. We are pretty sure that on the day the election, no APC member will go against the party’s choice,” Jibrin stated.