Profiling People’s Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila – By Abu Ahmad

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Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila returned to Nigeria from U. S. in 2003 immediately situated himself in the political affairs of his constituents and recognized that they would be better served if he had a chance to represent them at the House of Representatives.

His decision to delve into partisan politics and offer himself up for service on the platform of the then Alliance for Democracy (AD). After a rigorous and highly competitive campaign, Gbajabiamila succeeded in ousting the incumbent member of the House of Representatives from Surulere constituency 1, and clinched his party’s nomination for the seat. His party leaders recognized his true commitment to party ideals and worked with him to emerge victorious at the general elections.

His first term in the House demonstrated his true passion for issues concerning his constituents and Nigeria as a whole; he worked passionately to address matters of great concern to him and quickly earned a reputation as a true and brilliant legislator.

He had sponsored the highest number of Bills in the National Assembly amongst all the legislators. Amongst his Bills and Motions in the House, Gbajabiamila has been very passionate about the Employee Rights Bill, Local content in Construction Industry Bill, Vocational Schools Bill, The Economic Stimulus Bill, Interest-Free Students Loan and Establishment of Nigeria Education Bank Bill etc. Gbajabiamila successfully sponsored several far reaching amendments to the Nigerian Constitution.

The Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila a true believer in qualitative representation, he took an active part in debates on the floor of the House and was fast recognized as one of the brilliant minds in the National Assembly. He was always on the side of truth and justice and his view truly reflected the wishes and aspirations of his constituents. This was especially evident during the “third term debate” when he was chairman of the 2007 movement in the House, a group largely credited for ending the “third term agenda” and machinations of the then President Obasanjo to perpetuate his stay in office. He filed several lawsuits against the then federal government who he accused of operating an illegal excess crude oil account and spending tax payers’ money without appropriation. Gbajabiamila’s struggle did not go in vain as the present administration has adopted a Treasury Single Account policy which has returned a semblance of accountability to government spending.

He did this at great risk to his political career. His exceptional record saw him overwhelmingly re-elected in 2007 and elected as Action Congress leader and Minority Whip of the House. During the illness and absence of President Umar Musa Yar’adua, was the first and only legislator to bring a motion on the floor of the House for the invocation of the doctrine of necessity. This led to the swearing-in of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as Acting President.

In 2011, Gbajabiamila was nominated for a high ranking National Award, Officer of the Federal Republic, (OFR). He surprised many Nigerians and received several acclaims when he turned down the award on the grounds that he did not deserve it and that the awards system in Nigeria was no longer achieving its original intent. To this end, Gbajabiamila put up an amendment to the National Honors Act of 1964 to make stringent guidelines for selection of National Award nominees. Gbajabiamila thus became the third and youngest Nigerian to reject National Honours after Late Chinua Achebe and Prof. Grace Alele-Williams.

Gbajabiamila contested for the third term on the platform of his party, ACN and won. He was once again re-elected ACN leader and leader of the opposition in the House of Representatives. In the short time he has held this position; Femi Gbajabiamila revived the role of the opposition in the House and continued to maintain a tough stance against the ruling party, PDP.

Many do not knew In 2014, Femi Gbajabiamila as the Leader of Opposition in the House of Representatives led his colleagues into the merger that gave birth to the All Progressives Congress (APC). In 2015, Under Femi’s leadership of the APC caucus in the House, the party increased its numbers, earning them the majority.

On June 8 2015 speakership election one of the events Hon Femi would be remembered for is his experience in the race for the office of the speaker of the House of Representatives in 2015. He had emerged as favoured candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the position of speaker, and with a majority in the House of Representatives; he was expected to carry the day. On that day former of the House Mr. Yakubu Dogara and other “rebel” members of the APC slogged in with PDP members as opposition in the green Chamber in hotly contested election. But this was not to be so. Femi Gbajabiamila narrowly lost the election to the present Speaker Yakubu Dogara in an election which he described As an Act of God. Due to his wide acceptance within the party and his members, he was overwhelmingly elected Leader of the 8th House of Representatives on July 28, 2015.

As an Act of God after four years three days, he has been emerged speaker of the Federal Republic of Nigeria The new speaker is a forth termer and Majority leader in the 8th house of Representatives After polling 281 votes out of 358 votes against Bago who got 76. Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila emerged as speaker t of the ninth national assembly Tuesday afternoon. In 2014, Femi Gbajabiamila as the Leader of Opposition in the House of Representatives led his colleagues into the merger that gave birth to the All Progressives Congress (APC). Upon his re-election into the House of Representatives in 2015, Gbajabiamila presented himself to his colleagues as an aspirant for the Speakership seat in the House

EARLY YEARS AND EDUCATION

Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila was born on the 25th of June 1962 into the family of Lateef and Olufunke Gbajabiamila. Femi Gbajabiamila started his elementary education in Lagos at the Mainland Preparatory School at the age of four and proceeded to Igbobi College, Yaba, Lagos in 1973 for his secondary education and graduated around 1978. After completion of his secondary education in Nigeria, he enrolled at the King Williams College, Isle of Man, United Kingdom for his ‘A Levels’ where he graduated at the top of his class around 1980. Upon his return to Nigeria, the young Olufemi was accepted into the University of Lagos, Nigeria for a three-year LLB (Bachelor of Law) degree programme. He graduated with honors in 1983 and proceeded to the Nigerian Law school and was called to the Nigerian bar in 1984. To further his education, Gbajabiamila decided to go back to school, this time in the United States. He attended John Marshall Law School in Atlanta Georgia where he graduated top of his class earning himself a Juris Doctorate. As a young lawyer, Femi Gbajabiamila started his career with the prestigious law firm of Bentley, Edu and Co, a Lagos based law firm where he distinguished himself as a brilliant legal practitioner. As intellectually adventurous as ever, Femi stepped out on his own and established his own law firm, Femi Gbaja and Co. on Broad Street, Lagos where he was principal partner.

In his acceptance speech said The 9th Assembly under my leadership is going to be a House of reforms or if you like a reform Assembly. The reforms will be dished out piecemeal and at intervals so as not to shock the system. Moving forward therefore my dear colleagues, it will not be business as usual and we will be shaking the table just a little. We will be introducing various reforms that will reposition this institution but please rest assured that they will be for the greater good. On our shoulders lie the responsibility of working together as a House to safeguard the future of our great country. The House must be reformed before the country can be reformed We simply cannot and must not fail.

Abu Ahmad wrote in from Kano

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