Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai has vowed to lobby Reps-elect to vote for Femi Gbajabiamila in the Speakership race in the ninth House of Representatives.
El-Rufai, who disclosed this while receiving 121 members-elect, who were on consultation tour of Northwest yesterday at the Government House chamber in Kaduna, said the president also convinced Idris Wase to drop his speakership ambition for Gbajabiamila.
He said people might not know but Gbajabiamila was not the Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu’s project but President Buhari’s.
He said he would ensure that the project came to fruition with no contest on June 11, by convincing fellow governors, members of the National Assembly as well as Umaru Bago, who is also contesting for the same position.
El-Rufai said: “It’s a misconception that Gbajabiamila is Asiwaju’s project, not because it was President Buhari himself that has always observed Femi in the House.
“Even before he became President, he read newspapers and watched television and he followed Gbajabiamila, his dedication and contributions on the floor , and he said this time around I want Femi.
“I’m sure Asiwaju is happy, but this is not his project, he is not the one that zeroed in on him.
“The President told me himself and when I asked him about Gbajabiamila, he told me his reasons.
“At Governor’s Forum, people raised voices but I told them that as governors, we sometimes impose, I am not a hypocrite.
“So I say to them, don’t let us condemn the President for picking people he feels comfortable working with.
“I don’t care who the President wants to work with, but in my State I am very interested… .
“So, I told the President he has to be involved in this project, and I said, if he allows me I’ll talk to people and get involved and I demand he gets you involved too.”
He said, having made up his mind to support the President’s wish, he discovered his first barrier to the Idris Wase, who was also contesting for the same position.
“The first obstacle I have to face, was that Wase is the biggest threat, so I reached out to him and took him to the President.
“The President told him he has already decided on Femi and he gave his reasons.
“Wase replied though he was sure he has a big chance of winning but as his elder and President, the President’s request is done.
“I reached out to my fellow governors and I’m talking to Bago as well and by the grace of God by June 11, there won’t be any contest. We will do our best.
“I have also told my elected colleagues in Kaduna state that this is Buhari’s State, and we will do 100 percent what he wants.
“We supported Femi In 2015, only one did not vote for Femi and my members suffered for their party loyalty in 2015, by not getting anything tangible in the House despite some of them being ranking members.
“I assure you that not only I and other governors will work on this project to the end.
On his comment on god-fatherism, the governor said it was directed at Asiwaju Tinubu, adding that what I said was that he has a template that was used to retire some politicians in Kaduna State.
“That was not an attack on Asiwaju, it was a generic statement, but the whole thing took a media frenzy because to some people, Asiwaju is a meal ticket.
“Let me tell you, because of that, some people started confessing to me that Asiwaju should be dealt with.
“They said Asiwaju wants to finish you, he has been abusing you, we should finish him by finishing his man, Femi.
“But I told them that this is not about Asiwaju but President Buhari and I will fight it with the last drop of my blood. I told them to change their mind.
“I went to Asiwaju and told him that we would do what we can to make this project a success.”
He however urged Gbajabiamila and Wase not to be drawn into ethno-religeous controversy, saying, “Please do not allow people to draw you into religion or ethnic controversy.”
Earlier, Gbajabiamila, who said the visit was strategic because the governor has been working for the project, adding that the team is rainbow coalition of several parties which is the vision associated with nation building.
He said he had been close to el- Rufai and “we have come a long way.”
“His Excellency had to fly to Lagos to launch a book for me during my 50th birthday.
“When governor Fashola was leaving, he also made a case for me to the powers that be for me to be the governor after Fashola.
“It is our intention to take the legislature to the next level,” he told the governor.
On his part, the Director General (DG) of Gbajabiamila/Wase Campaign organisation, Abdulmumin Jibrin told the governor that the team was capable of bringing the needed reform to the National Assembly, while reiterating that they were open to negotiation from other contestants. Please, use your clout to convince Bago,” he pleaded.