The Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has denied that he was the candidate of National leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, for the speakership of the 8th Assembly.
Gbajabiamila, who is one of the leading contestants for the number four job, spoke in Abuja as he met with Peoples Democratic Party members-elect in continuation of his campaign for the position.
Other contenders include Chairman, Committee on House Services, Yakubu Dogara; Chairman, Committee on Agriculture, Mohammed Monguno; Chairman, Committee on Finance, Abdulmumini Jibrin; and Pally Iriase.
However, the race has lately narrowed down to Gbajabiamila and Dogara, seen as the front runners.
Speaking specifically on being Tinubu’s candidate, the Lagos lawmaker said he was often surprised when he heard or read about such insinuation, stating that, having led the opposition for eight years in the House, he wondered how people came about the idea that he did not have the capacity to lead the House unless he relied on Tinubu to make a case for him.
However, he admitted that prominent Nigerians, including the Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi, had pleaded with Tinubu to support him, but that he did not give them any answer until a few weeks back when the APC leader said “ maybe this man (Gbajabiamila) has some appeal.”
“I have led the opposition for the past eight years with the best of my ability. I have faced a lot of threats and intimidation to life right from the time of (Olusegun) Obasanjo up to about two weeks ago.
“The way I stick my neck for the opposition, I seek to do same for Nigeria as speaker. I want this campaign to be about issues and hoped it would be that way, but I heard a lot of many negative stories. I tried to maintain dignified silence, but I want to set the record straight now.
“I intend to be speaker not for anbody. Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu has no hand in it. Lamido Sanusi left his palace in Kano and pleaded with him to support me. He didn’t get a clear answer.
“Shortly after that, Senator Lawan Shuaibu went to Tinubu on the same issue. He still did not respond until when few weeks ago, Nasiru El-Rufai went to meet him, then he said maybe this man has some appeal.
“In 2011, some members from the North went to him to suggest that I should be Tambuwal’s deputy, but he said no to that.”
Gbajabiamila also spoke on how some lawmakers were demanding to be chairmen of particular committees as a condition for supporting him, alleging that such members were among the people going about town saying that he was Tinubu’s candidate.
He assured the PDP members that allocation of committees would be based on fairness, justice and quality.
The House Deputy Leader, Leo Ogor, who led the delegation, said the PDP members would go back and study his campaign promises to see how the caucus would key in into his agenda.