There is no room for redundancy in the House, writes Sani Ringim
Give it to him, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila belongs to the rare class of political office holders who understand the enormity and the burden of trust in leadership. Having trained as a lawyer in the United States, the acclaimed bastion of the world’s democracy and the shining example of qualitative leadership, Gbajabiamila knows that every second counts in leadership. So, no room for profligacy and redundancy.
Since his inception as the Speaker of the House in 2019, he has been a decisive, firm and goal-oriented leader. On the same trajectory of order he instituted as the head of the green chamber, he recently threatened to disband ad-hoc and standing committees who failed to file in report within stipulated period.
Gbajabiamila said, “We have to do a compilation of committees, either standing or adhoc who have failed up till now to submit their report. Most committees will be discharged on Thursday. “The list will be read out here on Thursday and their work will be discharged. I will decide if we will constitute another committee and you hand over the little report you have to the new committees.
“We can’t continue like this. The reason being that this is an unusual year. Because of the new electoral law, the time table, a lot of members are not going to be here. Everyone will be out campaigning. There’s Ramadan, there’s primaries, there’s Easter and if we are not careful this work will go unfinished until February when there will be general elections”.
The move shows that the speaker was not ready to waste further time in view of the urgency needed to fix scores of challenges plaguing the nation. The mood of the nation requires men like Gbajabiamila at a perilous time like this when the strength of many have failed.
This is not the first time the dynamic Speaker of the House has been providing leadership and carving a niche from the pack. He has never lost his voice when it matters most in many times of national turmoil.
When he came in 2019, the Speaker declared that he anticipated a healthy relationship with the Executive arm of government without subjugating the Legislature to the whims and caprices of the Villa. He nurtured the relationship that inures in the general good of the people.
The mantra of the Ninth National Assembly, codenamed, “Nation Building: Joint Task” worked well for the nation in many respects. It ensures a delicate balance of checks on the Executive arm of government. This winning strategy has made the current National Assembly succeed where the previous Assembly had failed.
Despite not being on a warpath with the Executive, Gbajabiamila has consistently raised his voice when the downtrodden are not fairly treated or when the interests of the nation are threatened like the Ghana obnoxious trade law imposed on foreign nationals who are mostly Nigerians.
Gbajabiamila became the first Speaker who showed more than passing interest in parliamentary transnational diplomacy. He has been to many countries to douse tension and to look out for the interests of his countrymen.
Far-reaching legislations like the substantial alterations to the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act, the Petroleum Industry and Governance Bill, PIB saw the light of the day.
Another landmark achievement many often overlook is the restoration of the budget circle from January to December. The new order will strengthen investors’ confidence in the nation’s economy, allow Nigerians and companies to plan, ensure implementation of capital projects which averaged about 30 percent implementation rate.
The PIB, which has been passed into law will address the inefficiencies in the oil and gas sector and also end the rip-off of Nigeria by the International Oil Corporation (IOCs), ensure better deals for the host community and open up other ancillary sectors and create massive employment opportunities.
Likewise, in line with global trend of E-governance, the House of Representatives under Gbajabiamila is working assiduously to incorporate E-Parliament in order to strengthen the legislative performance of members.
The Speaker is always concerned about the foreign interests of Nigeria and has been a strong advocate of equitable policies for Nigeria in global affairs. At a book launch authored by the Deputy Minority Leader of the House, Toby Okechukwu, and two others – Tony Onyishi and Emmanuel Ukhami, Gbajabiamila argued that Nigeria’s foreign policy must define the country’s terms of engagement with other countries.
The book titled “Reflections on Nigeria’s Foreign Policy, 1960-2020” was launched in Abuja recently.
“What we know, and have learned from both our recent experience and the experiences of others is that in this new world, our foreign policy must unapologetically define the terms on which we engage the rest of the world.
“This will enable the country to address the different manifestations of our shared challenges so that we can together survive through this new age of promise and peril.
“To do this, we must establish the values that define us, and be clear about the concerns that motivate us and the interests that inspire us.
“Our nation’s foreign policy defines the terms on which we engage with the rest of the world,” Gbajabiamila said.
The Speaker said that it was through a robust foreign policy that Nigeria could declare what it was and what it stood for. According to him, Nigeria had demonstrated gallantry at home and abroad in South Africa, Liberia, Sierra Leone and everywhere else that it was called upon for help.
Gbajabiamila said that a global response was the best way to ensure collective survival from issues of public health, terrorism and the myriad difficulties of globalisation. The lawmaker said that international collaboration was necessary to find and implement solutions that would improve the lives and circumstances of people all over the world.
The nation will ever be grateful for the quality of leadership Rt Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has been giving since he got into the position of the Speaker, House of Representatives.
Ringim writes from Kano