Newly elected majority leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has revealed that his decision to refuse a withdrawal of his ambition of leading the ruling party’s House caucus was owing to the insistence of President Muhammadu Buhari and the party’s leadership.
Gbajabiamila said but for the president and the party’s leadership, he would have stood down when it became clear the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, and members loyal to him, were against that plan.
Defending lawmakers that stood by him throughout his ordeal, Gbajabiamila tagged them “aggressors but protectors of the interest of the party”.
He said he had mentioned his intention to voluntarily leave the race to President Buhari and the leaders of APC, but they said “no”.
“A lot of people don’t know this. A long time ago, I saw the president, I saw my party, I explained to them,” he said. “I told the president listen this thing has been framed to be about me, but was never about me and that is what my members believe.
“And I told Mr. President, and I told the party that I wanted to withdraw from this thing, so for the sake of the president, for the sake of the House for the sake of the country.
“I told the governors at the meeting four weeks ago that it was not about office and that I would leave this thing in a heartbeat without thinking of it.
“I wouldn’t even think twice about it and I will go and sit on the floor of the House without even accepting anything even a chairmanship.
“I have never been a chairman of the committee in this house and never been a deputy chairman and I made it clear to them that I have turned down things in the past. I have been offered national honors and I turned it down. I was meant to be a Deputy to Aminu Tambuwal but we turned it down before Emeka Ihedioha took over and there have been many other things in the past,” Gbajabiamila said.
He continued, “For me it was not about me; it was not about office. It’s not the office that makes you a legislator, the legislator makes the office. It’s not vice versa and I made it clear that I will leave it on principle but my members refused.
“When I told the president to allow me leave, he did not accept it, he was reluctant. My party did not accept it. And I thank God for that they did have that kind of confidence in me to be able to deliver the goods for the party. Who am I to say no?”
Gbajabiamila was named majority leader Tuesday after the speaker, hours after Buhari met with the warring factions, ordering that crisis be resolved within six hours.