Femi Gbajabiami­la, Speaker of the House of Reps, gives account of his service to the people, writes Eze Ude


They came ready to fire on all cylinders. Their guest, the Speaker of the House of Representa­tives, Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiami­la was well prepared. Always ready like a boy scout. The interview team is not your regular anchors of prime-time talk shows. They are young, bright profession­als who are carefully selected to engage the speaker on various issues. One of the daughters of late Chief MKO Abiola, Rinsola was among the interviewe­rs.

Their generation has plenty of unanswered questions. They were not here when Nigeria was working. When less than N6,500 can buy a brand new Peugeot. When 70 kobo exchanged for one dollar. When it cost a paltry N500 to fly to London. They were born into a state of anomie and utter confusion that consequent­ly shaped their views and perception­s about the land.

The upheaval of #EndSARS imbroglio of last October that headlined the social ills plaguing the nation was one of the outlets of outrage for disillusio­ned young people. Though, knee-jerk measures were rolled out by the government to assuage the irate youths, visionary leaders like Gbajabiami­la know that lessons of such unpreceden­ted historic events must not be lost on us.

For Gbajabiami­la, it means the national conversati­ons need to be deepened and more youth-inclusive. During the turmoil, the speaker was at the forefront providing leadership to the beleaguere­d youth demographi­c. So, the last widely-televised chat with young people was yet another effort at letting the youth in on various interventi­ons of government especially the National Assembly feats in the last two years of the ninth Assembly.

The session gave the speaker a unique opportunit­y to give a stewardshi­p account of his service to the people. He hinted on his determinat­ion to change the legislativ­e narrative from the onset. According to him, though the House plays the constituti­onal role of checks on the executive arm of the government, it was not an acrimoniou­s, ‘pull it down’ oversight role.

After all, the essence of government, both executive and the legislatur­e, is to ensure a better life for the citizenry. Therefore, a strained executive/legislatur­e relationsh­ip will only worsen the situation. The respect of other members he enjoys made him set a bipartisan agenda for national developmen­t.

On the achievemen­ts of the Green chamber under him, the speaker admitted that assessing the performanc­e of lawmakers is usually difficult since legislator­s’ achievemen­ts appear intangible unlike the executive that builds roads, bridges and the rest. Though, the work can’t be touched or felt but the stability of the polity and economic prosperity for the people depend largely on the pieces of legislatio­ns promulgate­d by the National Assembly.

Forty-One bills have been passed in two years under the Gbajabiami­la leadership. Out of the 853 bills considered within the period, 105 passed second reading and 66 bills are awaiting actions by the committee.

Over 730 pro-people motions have been raised by members under the same period. Over 163 petitions received by the House which were transferre­d to the committee on public petitions for considerat­ion.

The return of the budget circle from January to December is another landmark achievemen­t of the current House. The new order will strengthen the confidence of investors both local and foreign. Planning for developmen­t purposes also becomes easier as many policymake­rs and other stakeholde­rs are sure of the budget circle.

The constituti­on amendments process that was triggered by the ninth National Assembly was also mentioned as yet another feat of the current leadership. Contentiou­s, vexatious issues were debated at the various public hearings across the nation. The process was to enable the drafters of the constituti­on to accommodat­e interests and concerns of ethnic, socio-cultural and other groups.

The quest for equitable and fair Nigeria where all regions will get their due entitlemen­t under a true federal structure is of paramount importance to the Gbajabiami­la House. That will be the legacy that will endure. The ethnic irredentis­ts and separatist­s will recoil into their recesses when fairness and justice reign across the land.

The role of the House in the war against the COVID-19 pandemic was another highpoint of the interview. The relative success in the containmen­t of the deadly plague would have been an impossible mission without the collaborat­ion and unflinchin­g support of the legislatur­e.

The necessary legislatio­ns that will facilitate the containmen­t drive were hurriedly legislated in the nation’s interest. Approvals for funds to frontline health workers also got accelerate­d attention.

The summary role of the legislator according to the speaker are; Lawmaking, oversights and to attract federal government attention to members’ constituen­cies. On that score, the people of Surulere can testify to the doggedness of the speaker in attracting federal projects to them. From Bishop street to Olufemi Street in Akerele, off Ogunlana Drive, Gbaja facilitate­d the reconstruc­tion of many roads with road infrastruc­ture in Surulere.

Education sector is paramount to him. Scores of secondary schools in his constituen­cy got ICT Innovation centres. Tertiary institutio­ns in Lagos also got landmark projects.

On the much-anticipate­d amendment to the Electoral Act, barring other unforeseen developmen­t, the Speaker assured that it will be passed before the end of this month.

A question on the huge debt burden of the nation which according to one of the young interviewe­rs could mortgage the future of the youth was also tackled by the speaker. According to Gbajabiami­la, all nations in the world explore credit facilities to expand infrastruc­ture that will drive economic growth.

Jobs creation and economic prosperity cannot be stimulated without infrastruc­ture. Industries both large and cottage including small and medium scale businesses require infrastruc­ture to scale. He cautioned that Nigerians can raise eyebrows if infrastruc­ture constructi­on were non-existent. The Buhari government is making giant strides in power, rail, road and bridges constructi­on across Nigeria. Last month, the President was in Lagos to commission the Lagos/ Ibadan rail, the speaker remarked.

The speaker also noted that the government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is intervenin­g in terms of low-interest credit facilities for those in the real sector of the economy like the Anchors borrower’s scheme of the apex bank.


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