As the intrigues for the leadership of the 9th National Assembly intensify, the House of Representatives presents a unique scenario. In this piece, Correspondent DELE ANOFI examines how House Deputy Leader Idris Wase, who is contesting for Deputy Speaker, adds value to Femi Gbajabiamila’s candidature for Speaker and why religion is irrelevant in the contest.
The candidature of Idris Wase, as the Deputy Speaker has been hailed by National Assembly watchers as a political masterstroke capable of stabilizing the House of Representatives known for its volatility due to the large number of youngsters and neophytes that usually populate the chamber of 360 members.
Wase, who represents Wase Constituency, Plateau State, is influential and considered a great asset to the 9th House of Representatives. Quite popular among his colleagues, like Femi Gbajabiamila, a hint of his wide acceptability among his colleagues and his political deftness was dropped with his emergence as the Deputy Majority Leader, following the demise of the former occupant of the office, Buba Jubril (Kogi) . The office was left vacant for seven months between March and October 2018, while serious politicking and jostling was going on. Several powerful and influential legislators showed interest, including those considered very close to Speaker Yakubu Dogara. But, Wase eventually won the contest. The most striking feature of the contest was the ease of acceptability of the outcome. No rancor or acrimony trailed his emergence. The stabilizing role he played during the trying times of the National Assembly earned him respect and admiration among his peers, which paid off with his emergence as the Deputy Leader of the House.
His popularity and acceptability must have encouraged his quest for the position of the 9th Speaker of the House but his well known light disposition to things of the world made his partnership with Gbajabiamila possible. In spite of his interest in occupying the most coveted seat in the 9th House of Representatives, characteristically, he dropped personal ambition for a national project. Being a loyal party man, despite his huge support base among both returning and new members, unlike in 2015 when Dogara turned against this party to forged an alliance with the main opposition to challenge his party’s, Wase was not ready to challenge the party but to see through to the fruition of its decision..
Also important to note is the fact that, prior to the pact, Wase’s wide acceptability is such that even if Gbajabiamila had gone alone and won, there could be rancour in the House that could fester and derail the agenda Gbajabiamila set for himself and the House for the entire duration of the Assembly. This is why the old Wase camp, in explaining its decision to work with the Gbajabiamila camp, said it accepted the pact in the national interest, and to avert any possible crisis within the 9th House of Reps.
Besides his popularity, Wase’s knowledge of the workings of the legislature is an asset to the Gbajabiamila partnership. Currently on his third term and with a return ticket for the fourth, the lawmaker is not only an active participant and contributor to issues on the floor of the Green Chamber and in Committee meetings, his interjections and interventions on the supremacy of and adherence to the House Standing Order/Rule are phenomenal. He is also a lawmaker keen on impacting lives through motions and bills for the benefit of the generality of Nigerians. Wase was part of Nigeria’s delegation to 2016 UN General Assembly in New York. He is also member of APC, National Executive Committee. He is also the Chairman, House Committee on Federal Character, and it is on record that the Committee recorded over 300 sessions with the Miniseries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the 7th and 8th Assembly.
Specifically, scandal-free since the last 12 years that he has been serving as a lawmaker, Wase served as a member of several committees during the 6th and 7th Assembly, including Committees on Emergency & Disaster (2007-2011 ); Public Service & Federal Character (2007-2011); Environment (2007-2011); Area Councils (2011-2015); Capital Market (2011-2015); Public Accounts (2011-2015); Poverty Alleviation (2011-2015); Housing & Habitat (2011-2015). Since his appointment as Deputy House Leader, by popular demand, Hon. Idris has been proactive in ensuring the speedy passage of many executive bills which had been untouched for many months before his appointment. For instance in the first few weeks after his appointment, he led the debate of over five Executive bills some of which included the deep offshore and inland basin production sharing contracts (amendment) bill, 2018. The Bill sought to block leakages in government revenue streams and ensure that the Federal Government maximises sufficient royalties from Production Sharing Contracts between NNPC and International Oil Companies (IOCs). Another revolutionary bill that was meant to totally overhaul Nigeria’s corporate regime and promote ease of doing business was the Executive Bill, companies and allied matters act 1990 cap c.20, lfn 2004 (repeal and re-enactment) bill 2018, which is argument for and lobbying ensured it’s speedy passage. Another Executive Bill that his argument drew commendations was the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Bill 2018, aimed at repositioning the Nigerian Mining Industry in order to properly position it to effectively develop and harness mining potentials in Nigeria in line with global best practices. In 2015, Wase was appointed as a member of the Governing Board of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) where he has been contributing to the development of robust legislative and democratic engagements. In 2016, he was selected as a member of the Federal Government Delegation to the 89th Session of the United Nations General Assembly held in New York, United States in August 2016.NIn June, 2018, the lawmaker was appointed as Regional Representative for West Africa to serve on the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) International.
With the united Gbajabiamila-Wase pact, however, the camp of those opposed to Gbajabiamila has been thrown into great confusion, seeing the overwhelming numbers the new force has. The outcome of the fusion of the Gbajabiamila and Wase ambitions into one is the seamless consensus of the two to float and pursue with sincerity of purpose, a vibrant legislative agenda that will focus mainly on three key issues:
- Speedily addressing the rising spate of insecurity
- Tackling the endemic unemployment challenge facing the country that has heightened the poverty level amongst citizens, which has invariably exacerbate the nation’s security crises .
- Addressing the vexed issue of fiddling with Local Government funds by State governors, which has over the years incapacitated the Local Government administration, regarded as the closest to the grassroots in the country.
According to insiders, the proposed Legislative Agenda will outline the step-by-step efforts to be made by the relevant Standing Committees of the House to, for instance, oversight the Defense Establishment to ensure that money appropriated for addressing security matters are duly disbursed to the agencies concerned, and also properly utilized for the purposes for which they were meant.
Equally, it will provide in detail, what the standing committee in charge of ports will be doing to tackle the menace of port congestion, which is a prerequisite for opening up the Nigerian economy for greater inflow of foreign direct investments, thereby creating millions of jobs to curb the rising unemployment.
Similarly, the Agenda is expected to outline urgent steps to kick-start a fresh constitutional amendment that will free the third tier of government from the shackles of some dictatorial governors by granting the much sought for LG Autonomy.
A threat to the vibrant duo leadership of the 9th House of Representatives is the introduction of religious sentiments into the contest to discredit the Gbajabiamila/Wase ticket. The antagonists of the Gbajabiamila/Wase ticket conveniently failed to take into account that religion has never played a key role in the determination of the leadership of the national Assembly. According to Abdulmumin Jibrin, the Director General of the Gbajabiamila/Wase Campaign Council, the Gbajabiamila/Wase partnership must have presented a serious threat to the aspirations of other contestants, which was why the religious sentiment was introduced. He regretted that the protagonists of religious factor into the contest conveniently forgot that at some point in the Senate, David Mark, a Christian was Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, also a Christian was Deputy Senate President, while Victor Ndoma-Egba, another Christian was Senate Leader.
For eight years there was no fuse from Muslims over this, neither was there evidence that the principal officers used their offices to convert some Muslims legislators to Christianity. Rather, many believed that the Mark-led leadership worked for the overall good of the nation. A similar scenario played out when Dimeji Bankole, a Muslim led the House of Representatives as Speaker, with Usman Bayero Nafada, also a Muslim, as deputy. There was no evidence that the two took advantage of the offices to convert Nigerians to Islam. In view of this, development analysts believe that the promoters of religiosity in the 9th National Assembly leadership contest should restrain themselves, have a rethink and work for the greater good of Nigerians. Also the supporters Gbajabiamila/Wase leadership of the House are affirming that religion should not by any circumstance be used to deprive the nation of a golden opportunity to change the current narrative about unemployment, rising insecurity, and engender good governance for the teeming citizens of Nigeria, through robust legislation, which the combination of Gbajabiamila and Wase has the potential to deliver. According to them, the ticket has great prospects of ensuring stability in the House by galvanizing majority of members towards working for the nation. The argument here is, while Gbajabiamila is a visionary lawyer whose passion for the greater good imbues him towards aggressive and somewhat impatient drive for excellence, Wase, and equally patriotic ranking lawmaker is however, calm, collected and measured in his steps, thereby revealing a tendency to ensure a tranquil atmosphere in the House, even in the face of a storm in the Green Chamber.
Since joining forces with Gbajabiamila, the camp has witnessed monumental additions, with some key contestants dropping their principal officer ambition to align with the new force.
But, the key question is, should religion be a factor in the delivery of good governance to Nigerians?
You may be interested
For the Record: Full Text of President Buhari’s Farewell SpeechWebby - May 28, 2023
President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday. morning, addressed the nation in his last farewell speech as Nigeria’s leader. Buhari will on…
Eriksen: Why Ronaldo Left Man UnitedWebby - May 28, 2023
Manchester United midfielder, Christian Eriksen, has joked that Cristiano Ronaldo was not happy with him taking a free kick for…
Ligue 1: Moffi Bags Assist In Nice, Montpellier’s Five-Goal ThrillerWebby - May 28, 2023
Super Eagles striker, Terem Moffi bagged an assist as Nice came from a two-goal down to defeat Montpellier 3-2 in…
Leave a Comment