By Kunle Somoye
Life is a circle; of birth, of death, of rebirth, of events, of lows, of highs, of seasons, of nights, of days.
Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila was born on 25 June 1962 to the family of Abdul Lateef Gbajabiamila and Olufunke Gbajabiamila in Lagos, after completing his secondary education at the famous Igbobi College, He was enrolled at King William’s College on the Isle of Man, United Kingdom for his A level.
He returned to Nigeria, to earn his Bachelor of Law (LL.B) degree with honors in 1983 from the University of Lagos, by 1984 he was called to the Nigerian Bar.
Femi Gbajabiamila’s work experience started at Bentley Edu and Co in Lagos before establishing Femi Gbaja & Co.
He proceeded to Atlanta John Marshall Law School in Georgia, USA to earn his Juris Doctor and set up another law firm in Georgia in 2001.
When Femi Gbajabiamila left the Judiciary, his foray into Politics started as an active member of Bill Campbell’s campaign team who was elected the Mayor of Atlanta in 2002.
Having gained experience in US Justice Department and Atlanta Georgia mayoral election, Femi Gbajabiamila felt equipped enough to serve Surulere I Federal Constituency as an elected Member of the House of Representatives in 2003.
On the 3rd of June 2003, he assumed office as one of the 360 members of the House of Representatives to begin his Miraj and ascension in his political career.
In Yoruba language, Surulere simply means “patience has its perks”, Femi Gbajabiamila started as a floor member before rising to become a minority whip, a minority leader, and the majority leader. His due diligence and eloquence on the floor of the green chamber endeared many Nigerians to him.
His life is a circle of lows and highs, when he lost the position of Speaker with a margin of 8 votes which turned against him through treacherous politics, he was pacified by his mentor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who encouraged him to learn from the event, and try again the next time.
By June 12, 2019, He assumed office as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, a seat he won with 281 votes out of 360 members. He defeated his closest rival with 205 votes, a margin never heard of in the history of elections in the Federal House of Representatives.
A man with a date with destiny must be tested and Femi Gbajabiamila with guidance navigated many tests with good character, perseverance, patience, humility, and courage.
As the saying goes “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown” By the time Femi Gbajabiamila assumed the position as the numero uno of 360 Federal House of Representatives, he will have to execute the herculean task of uniting different political parties with varying political interests.
The task ahead for him was to ensure there was an alignment between the legislative arm and the executive arm of government.
Former President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision since 2015 was to take Nigeria’s Budget Back to a January- December Budget Cycle so that the country’s fiscal position can be understood by creditors and investors but it failed due to the bickering with the leadership of the 8th Assembly.
When the 8th Assembly failed to achieve that goal, the 9th Assembly leadership ensured all hands are on deck to ensure the executive arm steer the country out of recession.
The cooperation of the House of Representatives and Senate helped Nigeria against external shocks like Covid-19 and a drop in oil production and exports.
With the passage and assent of the Finance Bill, the Petroleum Industry Bill, and the Deep Offshore Sharing Agreement Bill, the economic structure of the country is being strengthened.
For Institutional reforms and upgrades, 35 Constitutional Amendment Bills including the financial independence of the Judiciary and Local Government Autonomy passed by the 9th National Assembly and were assented to by Mr. President, in addition, the 9th Assembly successfully passed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
These reforms are only possible because of the personalities like Femi Gbajabiamila and the Senate President.
Out of 20 Bills sponsored by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, the Student Loan Bill currently awaiting concurrence at the Senate will provide the institutional framework for a National pilot student loan regime highlighted on page 44 of Asiwaju/Shettima’s Renewed Hope Manifesto.
The Asiwaju Connection: In many fora, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila has never failed to mention the role of his mentor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinibu in the success of his political journey 20 years ago, everyone needs a teacher and a guide, in school and life.
As Seneca famously phrased Non scholae sed vitae which is Latin for “We do not learn in school but in life.” Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila understood what it takes to be loyal to the one who guided him through the murky waters of politics.
Asiwaju himself has recounted the nature of his mentee as a thoroughbred, obedient, respectful, and focused man with the interest of the country at heart, then duality of this sort of relationship is akin to the duality of a lecturer and the best-graduating student of the Asiwaju School of Politics.
Now that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the President: As the saying goes, “There is a new sheriff in town.”
Asiwaju as the name implies is a Leader, he is the first first-class graduate to win an election in Nigeria’s history and the first man with an accounting and finance background to win an election, his records in Lagos speak for themselves, raising men of timber and caliber in his cabinet is his forte, it showed when Lagos recorded an annual Internally generated revenue growth rate of 14.6 billion naira.
Asiwaju’s ability to successfully generate a 468.63 % increase in Lagos IGR between 1999-2007 is enough to spark excitement in any fiscal policy expert.
This is a first-class result we are hoping will translate to the realization of a 10% year-on-year GDP growth rate in Asiwaju/Shettima’s manifesto. That means within 4 years, Asiwaju’s economic masterplan all things being equal will increase Nigeria’s gross domestic product to 780.9 billion dollars.
For the experts writing the economic and fiscal policies for Asiwaju/Shettima’s administration, this is an inspiring and compelling master plan to work with.
As all road leads to the Aso Rock Villa, the Center, and the Seat of Authority in Nigeria, many are wondering about the trusted friends and associates that will constitute the kitchen cabinet, what are they cooking?
Like the famous season movie; Game of Thrones, Loyalties will be tested, records will be judged, deputies will be picked, and for round holes, there would be round pegs.
Now that the radius to the center of the circle has been revealed in the person of Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila who is appointed as the Chief of Staff to Mr. President, a new season begins.
Femi Gbaja: A life in 360°.