Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said that voting in the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections took religious and ethnic dimensions rather than the performance of the individual candidates.
Gbajabiamila made the assertions when the executives of the House of Representatives Press Corps led by its Chairman, Grace Ike, paid him a courtesy call in his office on Wednesday.
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Speaking against the backdrop that many members of the House were unsuccessful in their bid to return to the parliament, Gbajabiamila said that the Electoral Act 2022 will be revisited to reflect the realities of the times.
Speaker Gbajabiamila, who noted that the it was a hard-won victory for many lawmakers including himself, lauded the media in its untiring effort to deepen democracy in Nigeria.
“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. FEI 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.
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“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 the 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.
“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 organisation 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.”
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