Bola Ahmed Tinubu has started having problem with some leaders of his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC over his insistence to impose his protege Femi Gbajabiamila as Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives.
The former Lagos state governor is the National Leader of the ruling party.
Recall that Tinubu failed in his bid to install the lawyer cum lawmaker, speaker following the party’s victory in the 2015 general elections.
Yakubu Dogara, representing Dass/Toro/Tafa Belewa Federal constituency won that epic contest after securing the backing of PDP lawmakers.
Gbajabiamila is currently the Majority Leader of the house.
But the magazine has learned from some lawmakers that they will not allow the former Lagos governor to choose their leader.
This follows reports that Tinubu has been meeting with other chieftains of the party across the six geo-political zones in the country, in the last few days, particularly APC lawmakers to ensure that his surrogate safely land the speakership this time around.
The APC leader, it was also learned has also tried to enlist the support of President Muhammadu Buhari on the matter.
The APC has retained a comfortable majority in the nation’s lower house according to the results of the elections of February 23 declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Even though the onus to elect the Speaker rests on the APC as the party with the majority lawmakers, the magazine learned that the party stand the chance of losing the same way it did in 2015, should it go ahead to adopt the 2015 template.
Both Gbajabiamila and current Senate Majority Leader, Ahmad Lawan were the candidates of Tinubu for Speakership and Senate President in 2015, they lost out in the power game after some lawmakers backed Dogara and Bukola Saraki for the two positions.
APC has again zoned the Speakership to the South West based on the power sharing arrangement adopted by the party after its victory in the presidential election two weeks ago.
“We agreed to zone the speakership of the house of reps to the south west after serious consultations among the leaders of the party. The President comes from the North east while the vice president Yemi Osinbajo is from the west,” an APC leader from the North told the magazine yesterday.
But in swift reaction to Asiwaju Tinubu to make Gbajabiamila, representing Surulere, Lagos in the House of Reps Speaker, some lawmakers, the magazine was told have been meeting secretly to frustrate the move.
Those who spoke with the magazine said the race to become the nation’s number four citizen will be keener now that the current speaker is believed to have joined the race.
Dogara had last week warned ninth National Assembly lawmakers to wait for inauguration in June this year before deciding who becomes speaker.
It was learned that Dogara made the comments as a result of ongoing consultations among lawmakers who have indicated interest in the position.
According to sources in the Assembly, some returning lawmakers, particularly APC have vouched to resist the imposition of Gbajabiamila.
“If we are not allowed to choose our leaders, what played out in 2015 will repeat itself. Though we have the majority but that should not translate to choosing those that will lead us.
If care is not taken some ambitious lawmakers could team up with the opposition to achieve their aim the same way it happened four years ago,” one returnee lawmaker from Kano told the magazine today.
The situation is more complicated for Tinubu because of perception in the house that his choice candidate is not very popular among lawmakers from the North.
The Governor of Sokoto state, said last month in an interview that the reason why the lawmaker from Lagos lost the position in 2015 was because he was not popular among his colleagues.
The former speaker said the North capitalized on this to snatch the fourth national position from the west.
“We are likely to see popular lawmakers from the North coming out to challenge Gbajabiamila in the contest. Some APC governors from the north will support them as a way of sending strong message to Tinubu that APC is not his property,” another APC lawmakers from Sokoto told The Source.
It’s not yet clear whether President Buhari will intervene in the matter despites pressures from some of his aides to show interest in who become the leaders of the two chambers.
In 2015 President Buhari plainly told the lawmakers that he was prepared to work with whoever they chose as their leaders.
Even if the president indicates more than a passing interest this time around on who become Speaker and Senate President as the case may be, the arrangement will likely fail considering the fact that the National Assembly has a history of choosing among themselves who to lead them, keen watchers of the nation’s politics told the magazine.
Meanwhile, competent sources from the camp of the ex-Lagos helmsman told the magazine that the politician is poised to have his way this time around.