Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has expressed pains over the manner primary elections of the nation’s political parties were conducted, especially in the face of high failure of a good number of his colleagues to grab return tickets.
“Honourable colleagues, it is rather unfortunate that the process went the way it went. I make bold to say here that the legislature has once again suffered losses. The loss really is not for members who lost, it is a loss to democracy, to the institution and to the country.
“If it means anything, I know and I am aware that many of our members did not lose their primaries because they were rejected by their constituents. Many of our members lost because of the process, the process which we foresaw in the House of Representatives. The delegate system which unfortunately is not what a delegate system is supposed to be,” the Speaker said as he recalled failed efforts of the parliament towards ensuring the use of direct primaries for selecting of candidates for elective offices.
A noted error that denied elected office holders as statutory delegates for their parties, which the National Assembly attempted to correct in a hurried alteration to the Electoral Act before commencement of the primaries was not attended to by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Welcoming members of the House back on Tuesday, Gbajabiamila also promised to ensure that the planned reform of the process is revisited in the next few weeks.
“Honourable colleagues, many of our members lost because they were not even given a fair shot. We have good legislators, both here in the chambers and back home, who are probably not coming back because of this same process.
“When we fought for direct primaries in this house, we knew exactly what we were saying. It pains me very deeply, that the process has gone the way it has gone. We will continue to push and continue to fight for our members, for democracy, for the institution and this country.
“I have experienced political loss. And I can speak to the feelings of loss and disappointment that arise as a result. From that experience, I wish to share with you the everlasting truth that none of us is defined by the outcome of any election at any one time. What defines us before God and our fellow men is what we do in the time we have in public office and on earth. We are judged on earth and after by the work of our hands, quality of our service, the content of our character and passion of our convictions. These are the things that matter most and will count in the fullness of time”, he stated.
“Therefore, I enjoin you all to set aside your feelings about recent electoral experiences to focus on serving the mandate we still have. Whereas in the past, the start of the electoral calendar marked the end of governance as a priority, that will not be the case in this 9th Assembly. Our term in office does not end till next year. Until the moment it does, until the last minute of the final hour, we will do the people’s work and serve their interests. That is the oath we swore and the commitment we will live up to, come what may.”
Reports have suggested that over a hundred of the incumbent members of the House may not be back in the green chamber, majority of whom were those who lost their return bids during their respective political parties’ primary elections.