Despite forwarding to the Independent National Electoral Commission (IENC), last week, the name of Ibrahim Kabir Masari from Katsina State as his running mate, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on Sunday, said he was still searching for a suitable partner for the 2023 presidential bout.
Tinubu made this known while presenting his remarks at the presentation of a book: “Mr Speaker” and unveiling of the Legislative Mentorship Initiative to mark the 60 birthday of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila in Abuja.
Lauding the good, working relationship between Gbajabiamila and his deputy, Hon. Ahmed Wase, the former Lagos governor, said, he needed to learn from the duo about the way they worked seamlessly together as he continued his search for a running mate.
He also commended the Speaker for his contribution to his emergence as the standard bearer of the party during the presidential primary of the APC on June 6.
“As a Minority Leader, he consults wide than and he’s always there to see the thinking of opposition that we must bring a revolution to the house to be able to beat the PDP. And then, he will brainstorm for any length of time that you want a lecture about political strategy. When we needed to challenge for the position of the speaker, I think after our merger, he worked with me tirelessly. Femi is a workaholic.
“The problem of failure stared him at the face; he lost the election to become the Speaker. I was close to tears, standing my foot to the ground, we will win again. Femi, keep on, pick yourself up. I am very proud of you that you did; you didn’t give up. You did the opposition and the support job.
“You demonstrated what we learnt from the textbooks, and other authors. That life is not about education of one section of the society. Remember what we discussed about paying the WAEC fee of Omo Iya Oniboli (the son of the woman who sells roasted plantain), and my mum was alive then, asking me to see to it each time I had sent her money; it doesn’t last. And I said whatever you do with the money, I don’t know.
“Mama will say, no, those women there, they are mothers, they want to pay WAEC fees. And Femi was one of the first I consulted about paying. Are we going to say that the children of the poor are not deserving of becoming governors, doctors and engineers? I said I was afraid, he said do it. So, that is how a junior brother can inspire a senior leader.
“Femi with your determination and reach, you are a contributor to our democratic growth. Thank you. You have character. You are a great mentor and you are doing a good job charting a path to success. You’ve done a good job and I say thank you, thank you.
“What you did during my primary (Presidential election) is a story for another day. I’ve spent more time, too much time and people might be bored; they might be envious too, they might be jealous. I won by a landslide. I thank you.”
In his remarks, President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, described Gbajabiamila as a true patriot, a team player and a skillful parliamentarian, adding that, the Speaker was one who looked beyond differences for the benefit of all.
His words: “For him, what matters is not so much the party differences but what unites Nigerians and that is why he is a passionate advocate for a peaceful democracy and unity of Nigeria. And no amount of parliamentary maneuvers or differences between parties would deviate him from this.
“He introduced the term legislative diplomacy. When there were issues between Nigerian and Ghanaian traders, He went to Accra and met with his colleagues and tried to resolve the issue.
“Mr President is very proud of the fact that he did not need to interfere in how the National Assembly runs because he had trust in the capacity and in the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives and therefore, he feels that with capable hands in both chambers of the National Assembly, there is no need to interfere.
“It is also a fact that under the Speaker and leadership of the senate, there is no automaticity of opposition and antagonism to the executive. The role of legislature is not to be antagonistic as a matter of routine, but to be partners for good governance for the people of Nigeria. They are working together to make Nigeria better,” he said.
In his keynote address, Gbajabiamila urged Asiwaju Tinubu to consult him in choosing his running mate, and that he would help the presidential candidate to get a running mate that would work smoothly with him.
He said the book was not just about him but also a tribute to everyone that has helped him get to where he is today particularly, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.