Hon. Femi Gbajabimila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has spoken about how Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, the governor of Sokoto State, betrayed him when he first ran for Speaker.
The Sokoto governor abandoned him and stood behind Yakubu Dogara in 2015, he claimed, despite backing Tambuwal’s election as House Speaker in 2011. In a recently published book by two of his aides, Dr. Charles Omole and Musa Abdullahi Krishi, titled Mr. Speaker: The Legislative Life, Service, And Resilience of Femi Gbajabiamila, Gbajabiamila made this revelation.
“One good turn, it’s often said, deserves another,” the authors wrote in their account of Gbajabiamila’s dissatisfaction with Tambuwal’s choice to oppose Gbajabiamila’s bid to serve as speaker in 2015.
However, that seemed not to be the case between Tambuwal and Gbajabiamila when it was time for the Surulere 1 Federal Constituency lawmaker to have his own turn as a Speaker in 2015, following the victory of the APC at the polls. Tambuwal did not only oppose him, he also ensured that Yakubu Dogara defeated the man that first conceived the idea for him (Tambuwal) to be Speaker.
“Not only did Gbajabiamila work for Tambuwal’s emergence in 2011, he also stood by him through thick and thin throughout the four-year tenure. For example, when there were attempts by the then executive arm to remove Tambuwal, following his defection to the APC, Gbajabimila, along with like-minded, had to scale the National Assembly gate to access the House chamber in order to forestall the plot.
“Coming to 2015, with all the sacrifices that Gbajabiamila made for Tambuwal, it was taken for granted that the (now) Sokoto State governor would support him to emerge Speaker. But the outgoing Speaker had another plan to have Dogara succeed him.” Giving an insight into how Tambuwal stabbed him in the back, Gbajabiamila opened up: “When the time came for the speakership election, it was taken for granted.
I didn’t even lose any sleep over who Tambuwal was supporting; he had become widely popular in the House at the time. “He was close to my family. So, we were surprised when we started hearing little things here and there. Even when I started hearing that he was supporting someone else, I thought it was not true, until I found out that it was true. He never told me. Even when I asked him, he said it was impossible. Such was the height of treachery.
“Don’t forget that beyond speakership, there were about seven to eight of us that started the Tambuwal project for president, and came very close to clinching the ticket. We supported him fully. We met every night till 2, 3, 4 in the morning.” Gbajabimila was most disappointed in Tambuwal’s move to block him from becoming House leader after losing the speakership to Dogara.
He lamented that; “Even to be House leader, Tambuwal opposed that as well. So, at that time in my head, I was like, there is something this guy (Tambuwal) is not telling me. You have gotten the speakership. That is the Dogara you wanted: you are now resisting my being leader?
Be that as it may, I was patient enough and even gained more experience in those four years. Has Gbajabiamila any regrets? “I don’t have regrets. I followed my heart and conscience. I will do it again if
I feel it’s in the greater interest of the country: if an Igbo man would serve us better or a northerner would serve us better. I would take aside all these parochial things and go for what is in the best interest of the country. On how he turned down pressure to run with Dogara as his deputy: “Yes, Monguno was my choice as deputy and we had started working.
I had presented him to the whole world, presented him to the party as my choice. It came down to negotiation time and Dogara came to the party to ask to be deputy – to step down and ask to be deputy. “The party called me because it was even a mock election at the time.
The chairman and all the executives of the party and members were there. I said, well, it has nothing to do with me. Monguno was the choice of the North East, and it will be the North East that will have to determine or decide whether they wanted to drop Monguno. It wasn’t my prerogative.
The second time, I believe, it was Governor Yari and Tambuwal; they tried to broker a deal, that I should drop Monguno and have Dogara deputise me. I could not bring myself to dumping someone I had been working with, and I told them that they should go and talk to Monguno, not me; and that if Monguno accepted, so be it. “I was not brought up that way. I could easily have done that, but I wasn’t going to do it. So, I was ready to sink or swim with my partner at the time. That’s exactly what happened.”