Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has observed that ethnicity, religious sentiments marred Feb 25 elections presidential and National Assembly elections.
He stated this on Tuesday evening when a delegation of the House of Representatives press corps visited him at his office in Abuja.
“It was a hard-won battle not just for me but for many of our colleagues on the floor there,” he said.
“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,” he said.
“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 will be able to perfect it,” he stated.
“I would continue to enjoy working with you. As many of you know, I would probably be a floor member now, which is how our democracy works. But being a floor member is not about what position you occupy but it is about what you contribute to law making and governance and I will continue to do that irrespective of wherever I find myself.
“My colleagues have been 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 organization anywhere in the world.
“God has been so good that together with my colleagues, one has been able to do that. My hope is that whoever comes in as the next Speaker would be able to continue in that trajectory and build on the foundations that we have laid for the institution and even do better. So I thank you.”