NASS election: Ethnicity, religion dominant factors – Gbajabiamila 

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has lamented that rather than performance capacity, the last elections were mainly dominated with ethnicity and religious considerations.

Addressing leadership of the House of Representatives Press Corps led by its Chairman, Grace Ike on a visit to congratulate him on his reelection to the House, Gbajabiamila lauded the corps for being supportive and playing a critical role in nation building.

The Speaker regretted that the last National Assembly election was determined by factors besides the performance of lawmakers. “It was a hard won battle not just for me but for many of our colleagues on the floor there, all 360 of us.

“Many were unlucky. Some were lucky. I used the word ‘lucky’ deliberately because this election was not as it should be, not so much about the performance of members whether on the floor or in their constituencies. It was about a lot of other things. It was about religion. It was about ethnicity. It was about so many other things which I hope that as we develop as a nation, one’s election would be based solely, or at least mostly on his or her performance on the floor and in the constituency.

That is what I hope would happen as we move along and that is why I mentioned the Electoral Act that was just passed. That is why I fought tooth and nail to make sure the Electoral Act adopted strictly the direct mode for primaries because of elections. Even though at the general elections members lost, a lot of members actually lost their elections at the primaries, where their acceptance by the constituents was not put to test. What was put to test was what one or two leaders in their constituencies determined whether they were returning or not. So we lost a lot of legislators even at the primaries level, and that does not help our democracy.

“So hopefully moving forward, we would perfect that document, the Electoral Act, which many people have celebrated but still not perfect yet. Hopefully we would be able to perfect it. So I thank you profusely for all the support you have given us, myself, the leadership and the House”, he stated.

On the successes recorded under his leadership, he appreciated his colleagues for being very supportive. “I have through no magic of mine but through the benevolence of God been able to hold the House together and hold my colleagues together, which in itself is a tall order if you follow the National Assembly over the years. Managing 359 other members is not an easy thing and I have always said that if you can be the Speaker of the Nigerian parliament you can thrive in any organisation anywhere in the world”, he said.

Earlier the Chairman of the corps, Comrade Grace Ike, congratulated the Speaker on his victory at the elections, as she lauded the Speaker on the leadership of the House by ensuring everyone is carried along in their contribution to lawmaking and governance.

While commending Gbajabiamila particularly over his efforts at the successful passage of the 2022 Electoral Act, Ike said the corps will continue to do its best to ensure the progress of democracy in the country.