Femi Gbajabiamila is not new to law making, nor legislative bill drafting, presentation and passage. He’s almost as old as the third republic in the business of law making, having been elected into Lagos State House of Assembly in 2003, and re-elected in 2007.
Femi served consecutively for eight years till 2011 when he became a member of the Federal House of Representatives, where he has been since then. He served the House as minority leader, leading the voices of the opposition, majority leader, deputy speaker and now speaker. Gbaja as he is fondly called has seen it all in the lawmaking ‘occupation.’ Femi is not just into law making by political venturing, he is a lawyer. Therefore, he is not an accidental public servant, apologies to the short trouble shooter in Kaduna, but a deliberate astute professional from whom much is expected.
This graduate of law, who was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1984, established a law firm known as Femi Gbaja and Co on the high priced corporate office lane of Broad Street, Lagos Island, before he later travelled to the US for further studies. He was admitted to John Marshall Law School Atlanta, Georgia, where he graduated top of his class, earning for himself a Juris Doctorate. A round peg in a round hole you would say!
Femi’s emergence as the speaker was overwhelming, with 283 votes against his rival, Umar Mohammed Bago who had 76 votes. He seems to have stamped his feet as an authority in the sands of the National Assembly, but except for controversy, his footprints are hardly noticed.
Femi had, in May 2018, bought a Range Rover for his wife, Salamatu, as a gift for her 50th birthday. But the hullabaloo that followed from the public was drowned by his excuse. “I saved for years to buy a car for my wife.”
As it were, public service seems to be a secret cult in Nigeria as we have, as stewards, men and women whom we do not know their earnings. That ended the story, but not the controversies trailing Gbaja. Before his election as speaker, the media had been awash with rumours and insinuations that Femi Gbajabiamila had not been fit to be elected as the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, having been previously convicted and sentenced by the Supreme Court of the State of Georgia for fraud and DISHONESTY in connection to the sum of $25,000.
But the dishonesty claims by Femi’s “enemies” is becoming the reality of not just the Surulere I Federal Constituency that he is representing, but of the 200 million Nigerians whose representatives excised the mandates of the people and elected the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives.
Still very fresh in the memories of Nigerians are the hew and cry of APC against Atiku Abubakar who is not a public servant for holding a retreat in Dubai, thereby causing the nation a great loss in forex. Femi’s APC was it, and saving our foreign exchange would be the priority of our government. Such discernment would be provided by Gbaja’s leadership as speaker. He was expected to end our groping in the dark, but that was not to be. Of concern to every reasonable Nigerian, is his economic insensitivity and wastage expressed through the party that he held in Dubai to mark his mother’s birthday, which subsumed Atiku’s financial exuberance. Femi was prodigious. His savings that he squandered in 2018 for his wife birthday gift, seems to have aggregated enough to take 300 guests, mostly colleagues at the National Assembly out to Dubai, but not on a retreat to fashion an agenda for restructuring of our ailing federation, but for OWANBE “parry.”
The preference of the Femi-led House of Representatives for imported cars at a time we are left with no other option than to lift our economy by buying made in Nigeria products was shunned for Toyota brand from China.
Nigerians at home and in diaspora were looking up to the National Assembly to pass a bill that would make it mandatory for Federal the Government and all its agencies to buy nothing, but made in Nigeria cars and further extend this to our foreign missions, ensuring that patronage of made in Nigeria goods will serve as our national brand promotion in the countries where are missions are operating.
The car distribution was suspended because of COVID-19 caused by the conspiracy of indolence of the executives and docility of the National Assembly which should have decided the closure of our borders when the executives were foot dragging.
NASS, two days ago, sat to give accelerated hearing to a bill to strengthen NCDC which was brought to the House of Reps. The bill immediately scaled 1st & 2nd readings and was scaled for passage on the 3rd reading, but the puzzle was that against the tradition of bill reading and passage in the House, the 55 pages document of the bill was not given to the members of the House for them to go through and understand the contents of the bill they were being rushed to pass.
Some informed and accountable members of the House who raised the alarm on this anomaly, poked further and learnt that there were many suspicious and controversial contents in the bill. One of them was that the NCDC will now have unlimited powers to force every Nigerian citizen to be vaccinated and issued a vaccine certificate and failure to agree to be vaccinated and certified (by any means they deem fit) you would not be allowed to purchase air tickets, board any flights or move about in any public place.
The members of the House who raised the alarm pointed out that the contents of the bill were very suspicious and fitted perfectly into some conspiracy theories that are being peddled on the social media locally and internationally on the intention of some suspicious global power interests to create vaccines, forcefully make people to accept the vaccines and go further to implement a means of identification by way of chips implant or any other means they deem fit to identify those that have taken the vaccines.
The House members wondered why Nigeria should be at the forefront of enacting such a bill at this time and even in a hurry to pass the bill which will support forced vaccination and certification to identify who has been vaccinated and who has not, even when no effective vaccine has been created.
The House turned rowdy amid the concerns and complaints by some members, who were surprised that every known tradition was comprised in the presentation of the bill. The bill which was presented by the speaker of the House, didn’t consider the public hearing tradition, neither were copies given to members to study before their sessions. Our speaker presented it on behalf of the executive and was leading the House through the passage process without clear understanding on the part of members about such a very sensitive bill. The ensuing rancour compelled the suspension of the passage of the bill pending further review by the members of the House.
Two lawmakers from the House later appeared on Channels TV Sunrise programme, who were asked what their opinion on the bill was. They clearly stated that the bill was suspicious and lended an amazing credence to the conspiracy theory that has been in circulation over sometime now on forced vaccination and identification by some certain global powers. They insisted that every content of the bill must be made public and proper clarification given on the contents and implementation.
Femi Gbajabiamila has proven beyond all doubts that he is not to be trusted with the leadership of the house, by this attempt to arm twist his colleagues into passing the Bill, it’s left to the house how to respond to his DISHONESTY.
Moreover, Nigerians, must not live this very sensitive issue all to the house. We must rise up for ourselves. The repression of our rights and of the voices of our representatives must be resisted. NGOS, civil rights groups, ethnic nationalities and professional bodies must play their parts in this struggle.
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the umbrella body of the Christian faith and other concerned individuals and entities can’t leave this fight for NASS members alone to championed. CAN President, Dr Samson Ayokunke, must be in the forefront of this fight. A parley must be initiated with all the Christian members of the Federal House of Representatives to express our incontrovertible position in this matter. This isn’t the time for CAN leadership in particular to sit at ease in Zion, while our house is seemingly on fire.
Dr Bolaji Akinyemi, is an evangelist, public affairs commentator and President of PVC-Naija