As the world welcomed the news about the rescue of over 200 women and girls from Sambisa Forest a few weeks ago, many said a quick prayer in thanks to the Almighty and moved on. But the rescue is not the end of the plight of these Nigerians, for many it is the beginning of another phase which must be managed sensitively. It is in this light that the matter came before the House of Representatives on May 5, 2015.
Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila distinguished himself as usual. He was unequivocal that the rescues were not the end of the country’s responsibility but must be viewed and addressed within the current state of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in North Eastern Nigeria. It was his view that even though it was just a few weeks to the end of their term as legislators, it was still imperative that they fast-track the passing of a bill that will enhance the protection of vulnerable groups like women and children and the general population that has been attacked and destabilised by the insurgency. Thankfully, the Violence Against Persons Bill was signed into law last week.
Gbajibiamila’s Surulere constituency is indeed very far from the happenings in the North-East, but he has aligned himself as a Nigerian to the travails of the abducted and now rescued people of the North-East. That is the mark of a leader who understands truly the psychosocial conditions of the tragic trauma that this group of people have suffered for too long.
What the 8th Assembly needs is a Nigerian who understands empathy and is eminently qualified, not just because he is an elite ranking member of the Lower Chamber. Most importantly and without any iota of doubt, if members of the House of Representatives were to throw all the dices on the table, not only will chance and merit be in favour of Hon. Gbajabiamila, but other qualities like his famous capacity for elocution, his great understanding of house procedures and fluid acumen, and mastery of the constitution will put him above his peers in the Lower Chamber.
One hallmark of Femi Gbajabiamila is his fearlessness and daring. I remember his vote of ‘no confidence’ on former President Goodluck Jonathan and his insistence on Jonathan’s impeachment in spite of the campaign of calumny that was launched against him. Such qualities are needed in order to bring to bear the essence of the functions of the National Assembly.
Hon. Gbajabiamila is loyal and steady and his devotion to the opposition party in which he started his political career is exemplary. No cross-carpeting and taking advantage of political winds for him and his stance on this issue is well documented. The issue for him, and others like him who stay loyal, is that changing parties has a strong impact on politicians at the grass roots, as many voters do not have access to the information to make choices based on every individual candidate and therefore sometimes only vote for candidates based on their party alignment.
In his constituency, he has continued to improve the lives and wellbeing of those in his area, in the realms of youth employment, youth and education development, while taking care of the educational, water and health needs of his people. He once opined that any development that does not trickle down to the CDC/grassroots level might not make any meaningful impact in the lives of citizens.
By the end of this week, it will be left for members of the inner caucus in the Lower Chambers to understand that they have to put their best foot forward. In doing this, they have to look at the contributions of those aspiring for the office of the Speaker, their general conduct in the House, other qualities of leadership and personal example i.e., punctuality, contributions to debates on germane issues, matters that will either prod the country on the path to our collective growth as a nation, or push us down the path of retrogression.
No oversight can compliment President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption and pro-people stance like a Speaker that is upright, just and with the proven characteristics of accountability and professionalism. At this time in our country’s economic, political and social state, President Buhari has no better dependable ally in the House to ensure adequate checks and balances like Hon. Gbajabiamila.
Mustapha Yusuf Inuwa, writes from Abuja, email@example.com.