The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, have clashed in the chamber during the plenary on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.
This comes amid the 10th assembly leadership tussle rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Gbajabiamila had reportedly recommended Tajudeen Abbas and Benjamin Kalu for Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the coming 10th House, leading to their endorsement by the ruling APC.
Wase, who is eyeing the seat of Speaker, is a member of the G-7, a group of aspirants aggrieved with the leadership zoning formula of the APC, which plans to adopt a member to run against the party’s candidate.
The drama which occured at the plenary on Thursday began towards the end of the session, when Gbajabiamila asked the Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business, Abubakar Fulata, to prepare a light order paper for Thursday as the sitting should close by 2 pm to allow members to attend an event at the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies.
Miffed by the announcement, Wase said, “Mr Speaker, I’m getting to see this getting so funny and we have lost quite a number of periods of time. For the commissioning of projects for God’s sake! Why do we have to shelve a lot of activities that we have just to go and witness the commissioning of a project of NILDS?
“I want to beg, sir, that we should do our functions. Those who have the interest to go, they have the right to. But our main primary function in this parliament is to make law and our citizens should be our priority.”
As Gbajajabiamila was responding, saying, “Perhaps, DS, you don’t appreciate the importance of NILDS like some of us do. I think NILDS is very important,” the Deputy Speaker interjected, “I have every information and idea of what NILDS is!”
The Speaker stated, “It was set up by this same institution by statute. We are not adjourning the House to go to NILDS; what I said was, ‘Let’s try and make it light and leave here by two.’ If you want, we can resume by 10(am). We will do our work but we will adjourn this House at 2 pm. I will witness the NILDS (event) because it is important to me.”
Rising against, Wase replied to the Speaker, “The parliament is about us, not about ‘I.’”
Shocked by the Deputy Speaker’s outburst, Gbajaabiamila said, “Mr Deputy Speaker, this is the first time in history…I have been in this House for many years, perhaps even longer than anybody here…this is the first time in history that a Deputy Speaker will be challenging what the Speaker is saying.”
Wase fired back, “I don’t understand what you mean by challenging, sir. That I should not make my contribution?”
Ignoring the Deputy Speaker’s last comment, Gbajabismila said, “Let me repeat please: Chairman Business and Rules, please make the order paper very light. We are adjourning this House by 2 pm tomorrow.”
Reports on Tuesday revealed that there are strong indications that the relationship between the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the House had gone from bad to worse, as Wase was allegedly shunning meetings and interactions with Gbajabiamila.
A source in the leadership of the House, who confirmed Wase’s recent disappearance in the leadership processions into the chamber on Thursday and Tuesday, said the Deputy Speaker is “angry” with the Speaker.
The official, in a written response to the PUNCH, said, “There is development. Wase no longer attends the leadership meeting before the plenary.
“He does not follow the Speaker’s procession any longer. He did it last week and even today. He is angry. It is like he no longer wants to go close to Gbajabiamila. Last week, they made an attempt to amend the House Rules to take the voting pattern back to a secret ballot.”