The Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has shed light on the role played by Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu that led to his decision to reject the offer to become the deputy speaker during the tenure of Hon. Aminu Tambuwal in the 8th Assembly.
The details were encapsulated in the book titled: ‘Mr. Speaker’ co-authored by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Musa Krishi and Charles Omole, to mark Hon. Gbajabiamila’s 60th birthday, including his role during the third term agenda of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.
Hon. Gbajabiamila recalled how the former Governor of Lagos State, stopped him from taking up the position of Deputy Speaker to current Sokoto State governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal whose election as Speaker was orchestrated by him.
He said: “my Party (ACN) leaders had never heard of Tambuwal, they didn’t know him, but I introduced him to them.
“They called for an interview; they met with him; they asked questions, and that was it. I turned that campaign around because our members had closed shop once they heard of Mulikat’s earlier endorsement.
“Whoever my party endorsed was going to win the election, so everybody was gnashing their teeth and really upset, and they had closed shop until I revived that campaign again,” Hon. Gbajabiamila said during the chat with the authors of the book – ‘Mr. Speaker’.
According to him, Hon. Tambuwal and other members approached the ACN leaders and suggested that he should become the Deputy Speaker from the Minority, saying “while everyone was excited about it, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu called for caution and stood his ground, saying we don’t want a Deputy Speaker.
“That’s the foresight of Asiwaju, we talk about. Later on, when people asked Asiwaju why, he said: ‘one, as Deputy Speaker, you’d just be tied to the apron strings of the Speaker, so whatever the Speaker does and does not do, you are going to be part and parcel of it, and the party will take the blame.’
“You would have to own his credits and also own his discredits, too’. He said anywhere in the world, the Minority or Opposition Leader is way beyond the Deputy Speaker. He (Tinubu) said you’ll make it politically; you’ll make a name for yourself more than you would if you were Deputy Speaker, and he turned out to be right.”
Speaking further on the role played by Senator Tinubu during his tutelage period in the political space, Hon. Gbajabiamila recalled how some political leaders from Surulere Federal Constituency of Lagos State who strived to truncate his political career, were checkmated by his political godfather.
He said: “There were these leaders in my constituency; they never wanted me at every election. In fact, there was a time I walked into Asiwaju’s place on the eve of primaries, I can’t remember what year it was, and they had all gathered.
“They had all gathered at Asiwaju’s place, and I just went there by chance, and they were all there, trying to nail my coffin, to ensure that I didn’t get the ticket. They even told him things that were not true, that I don’t come home, that nobody wants me back home, that I don’t come to the constituency (all lies) and Asiwaju stood firm and told them no way; he was not aware of that; his reports are contrary to what they said.
“They were embarrassed when I walked in; they were shocked and embarrassed. So, I have to thank Asiwaju for believing in me, having faith and having confidence in me and in what I do.
“Otherwise, like in all politics, I would have been discarded based on what those leaders came to tell him. So, he has been a pillar of support. I remember even the election before the speakership, some were still trying to argue with him that no I shouldn’t return.
“These same leaders, he told them, ‘Are you guys okay? If we get the majority now, are you not aware that we have a good chance of producing the Speaker?’ And there are many anecdotes, many instances I can give you, but I know that God used Asiwaju for me to be where I am today. I hope He continues to use him.”
While giving a vivid account of the unpopular third-term agenda saga, Speaker Gbajabiamila affirmed that he was offered the sum of N100 million by promoters of the failed third-term agenda at the twilight of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure.
While recounting his experience during the tussle, Hon. Gbajabiamila disclosed that he was offered the sum of N100 million while others were given the sum of N50 million largesse.
“My best moment as a lawmaker? The death of Third Term.
“The day it was pronounced dead, because like I told you, we had sleepless nights. We were meeting; we got a place in Asokoro, hidden somewhere.
“We’d start our meetings sometimes at 11 at night and leave there at 4 am in the morning. Can’t remember how many of us. It was a risk to life, It was a risk to life.
“So, the day it was pronounced dead, was a happy day; it was a relief for me. I was a free man.
“Look, I was offered inducement, at that time, by one of the major proponents of third term, I think at this point I wouldn’t mention his name, but a major player in, this country.
“Whilst they were offering members N50 million, I was offered double. A N100 million at that time, and you know what N100 million was, which, of course, I turned down.
“I say that just for you to understand the pressure: financial, mental, physical pressure. It was too much.
“We had no other job in the House except third term, a constitutional amendment. So, for me, unfortunately, as noble as that work was, the best time was the day it died; not the Third Term itself, but the day it was killed on the floor,” Hon. Gbajabiamila said.
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