Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai, said Friday, that the aspiration of Femi Gbajabiamila to become Speaker of the House of Representatives was President Muhammadu Buhari’s project.
Gbajabiamila, according to him, endeared himself to the President by his dedication and contributions on the floor of the House.
The boost in Gbajabiamila’s aspiration came simultaneously with that of Senator Ahmad Lawan who is aspiring to become the President of the 9th Senate and whose candidacy was openly endorsed by PDP senator Peter Nwaoboshi; a development seen by many as a major crack in the fold of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
El-Rufai told 121 Reps-elect who were on a consultation tour of the Northwest on Friday that he had no option but to support Gbajabiamila, being President Buhari’s choice for House Speaker.
Gbajabiamila was at the head of a delegation that visited El-Rufai in Kaduna yesterday.
The Governor promised to try his best to convince his fellow governors and members of the National Assembly, including Umaru Bago who is also seeking the position.
He said: “It is a misconception that Gbajabiamila is Asiwaju’s (Bola Tinubu’s) project. No.
It is President Buhari himself that has always observed Femi in the House,” he said at Government House, Kaduna.
He added: “Even before he became President, he read the newspapers and watched the television and he followed Gbajabiamila, his dedication and contributions on the floor, and he said this time around, I want Femi.
“I’m sure Asiwaju is happy, but this is not his project. He is not the one that zeroed in on him.
“The President told me himself, and when I asked him that I heard this story about Gbajabiamila, he told me his reasons.
“At the Governors’ Forum, people raised voices but I told them that as governors, we sometimes impose.
“I am not a hypocrite, so I say to them, don’t let us condemn the President for picking people he feels comfortable working with.
“I don’t care who the President wants to work with, but in my state, I am very interested.
“So, I told the President he has to be involved in this project, and I said if he allows me, I’ll talk to people and get involved, and I demand you get involved too.”
He said having made up his mind to support the President’s wish, he discovered his first barrier to be Idris Wase, who was also contesting the same position continuing, he said: “The first obstacle I had to face was that Wase was the biggest threat, so I reached out to him and took him to the President.
“The President told him he had already decided on Femi and he gave his reasons.
“Wase replied that though he was sure he had a big chance of winning, but as his elder and President, the President’s request was done.
“I reached out to my fellow governors and I’m talking to Bago as well, and by the grace of God, by June 11, there won’t be any contest. We will do our best.
“I have also told my elected colleagues from Kaduna State that this is Buhari’s state, and we will do 100 per cent what he wants.
“We supported Femi in 2015, only one did not vote for Femi and my members suffered for their party loyalty in 2015 by not getting anything tangible in the House despite some of them being very ranking.”
On his comment on godfatherism, the Governor said it was not directed at Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
His words: “That was not an attack on Asiwaju. It was a generic statement but the whole thing took a media frenzy because to some people, Asiwaju is a meal ticket.
“Let me tell you, because of that, some people started confessing to me that Asiwaju should be dealt with.
“They said Asiwaju wants to finish you, he has been abusing you; we should finish him by finishing his man, Femi.
“But I told them that this is not about Asiwaju but President Buhari and I will fight it with the last drop my blood. I told them to change their mind.
“I went to Asiwaju and told him that we will do what we can to make this project a success.”
El-Rufai urged Gbajabiamila and Wase not to be drawn into any ethno-religious controversy, saying: “Please do not allow people to draw you into religion or ethnic controversy.”
Earlier, Gbajabiamila said the appreciation visit was strategic because of what the governor has been doing for the project.
“It is our intention to take the legislature to the next level,” he told the governor.
On his part, the Director General (DG) of Gbajabiamila/Wase Campaign organisation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, told the Governor that the team was capable of bringing the needed reform at the National Assembly, while reiterating that they were open to negotiation from other contestants.