By Akanimo Sampson
The Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, is beginning to portray himself as a leader who adores absolute power. What is currently manifesting from his political chemistry are symptoms of fascism, or perhaps, an indication that he is inching towards being branded as a fascist leader.
For the Cambridge Dictionary, facism is a political system based on a very powerful leader, state control, and being extremely proud of country and race, and in which political opposition is not allowed. Trust is the speaker would wish the Green Chamber of the bicameral Legislature to be the most peaceful, the most supportive of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the most anything Nigeria!
In a seeming Gbajabiamilaic political mind set, there no room whatsoever for any opposition, be it from the vociferous Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or from even the restive circles of his own APC. His colleagues may not have done a proper reading of an emerging national political phenomenon called Gbajabiamila.
Without blinking an eye, he brazenly served the irritant PDP with his first shock menu- his own choice of what he wants as principal officers from that opposition party. They said they would not accept a situation where the majority in the house would impose a minority leader on members.
Before the Gbajabiamila soap opera on Wednesday, PDP, according to its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, had relayed the names of Kingsley Chinda as Minority Leader, Chukwuka Onyema as Deputy Minority Leader, Yakubu Barde as Minority Whip, and Muraina Ajibola as Deputy Minority Whip to the speaker for action.
Rather than seize the opportunity to cast an image of a democrat, Gbajabiamila instead opted to send a strong message that Nigeria has an emerging facist as speaker. That seeming wrong move, turned the plenary at the House into a rowdy theatre of legislators. Some accounts say trouble started after the speaker snubbed the PDP list.
Gbajabiamila does not appear to be comfortable having Kingsley Chinda as the Minority Leader of the House. Chinda has been very vocal in his opposition of the perceived anti-people policies of the Buhari administration, particularly against his state, Rivers. His opposition politics is principled. He does not appear to be a fair weather politician. He is not given to jumping from party to party.
Before he left Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, in 2011 to Abuja as a federal legislator, Chinda served as the Environment Commissioner under the administration of Chibuike Amaechi. During the electioneering campaign, the Amaechi administration hatched a plan to rubbish Buhari who was out then to flush former President Goodluck Jonathan out of the Aso Rock on the platform of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC).
For the Amaechi administration, Buhari’s campaign posters defaced the state and ran counter to their environmental law. As the environment commissioner then, Chinda who is also a lawyer, had admitted that they were considering to sue Buhari. They never did for some obvious political considerations. When Amaechi later defected to the APC, Chinda was one of the ex-Rivers governor’s associates that stayed put with the PDP.
PDP said it wrote to the speaker after consultation with other minority members in the House, notifying him of Chinda’s choice and other members selected for leadership position in the House of Representatives, in line with dictates of the rules and parliamentary practice. But to the utter dismay of the party, they discovered that the speaker smuggled in names other than those recognised and forwarded to him as the leaders of the Minority in the House.
While the PDP in the strongest terms, cautions against what it described as ‘’abuse of rules, parliamentary practices and procedures as well as the convention’’, the opposition party is urging the speaker to respect the rules and read the list submitted to him by the leadership of the PDP. But Gbajabiamila defiantly announced Ndudi Elumelu, as the Minority Leader, a situation that led to protests as some aggrieved lawmakers attempted to take the maze.
Gbajabiamila, is representing Surulere I Federal Constituency of Lagos State. To emerge as the speaker of the 9th House of Representatives, he floored his main challenger, Umar Mohammed Bago, who represents Chanchaga Federal Constituency. He polled 283 votes to defeat Bago who garnered 76 votes out of the total votes cast.
Like Gbajabiamila, Bago who is also of the APC was allegedly backed for the position by opposition PDP.
The emerging fascist speaker was born on June 25, 1962 into the family of Lateef and Olufunke Gbajabiamila. He had his elementary education in Lagos at the Mainland Preparatory School and proceeded to Igbobi College, Yaba in 1973 for his secondary education where he graduated in 1978, and later enrolled at the King Williams College, Isle of Man, United Kingdom for his ‘A Levels’ and graduated in 1980.
He returned to Nigeria and was accepted into the University of Lagos for LLB (Bachelor of Law) degree programme. He graduated with honors in 1983, proceeded to the Nigerian Law School and was called to the Nigerian bar in 1984. Years later, he established his own law firm, Femi Gbaja and Co. on Broad Street, Lagos, before traveling to the United States for further education. There, he attended John Marshall Law School in Atlanta Georgia where he graduated top of his class earning himself a Juris Doctorate.
Gbajabiamila started his journey in politics when he joined the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD) and won his first term election in the House of Representatives in 2003, was re-elected in 2007 and elected as Action Congress (AC) leader and Minority Whip of the House. Bills and motions he supported, among others, were 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.
In 2011, he contested and won a third term on the platform of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). He was again re-elected ACN leader and leader of the opposition in the House, in 2014, as the Leader of opposition in the House, he led his colleagues into the merger that gave birth to the APC, and was elected for fourth term in 2015 but lost his bid to become Speaker to Yakubu Dogara.
Gbajabiamila who is married with children, was however elected Leader of the 8th House of Representatives on July 28, 2015, and after his re-election at the 2019 general election, the APC announced him as the party’s candidate to head the 9th House.
For now, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP in its 473rd meeting on Thursday resolved to summon the following House members to a crucial meeting at the party’s national secretariat, this Friday, July 5. They are; Ndudi Elumelu, Wole Oke, Lynda Ikpeazu, Anayo Edwin, Gideon Gwadi, Toby Okechukwu and Adekoya Abdul-Majid.
While he party said the summon is in line with the provisions of Chapter 10 (57)(3) of its Constitution, the lawmakers are to appear before the members of the NWC at 10 a.m.