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Nigerians voted based on religion, ethnicity not performance — Gbajabiamila

 


Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house of representatives, says ethnicity and religion influenced the February 25 general election.

 

Gbajabiamila spoke on Tuesday when a delegation of the house of representatives press corps led by Grace Ike visited him at his office in Abuja.

 

He said lawmakers reelected are “lucky” because the election was not about performance but “ethnicity and religion”.

 

“It was a hard-won battle not just for me but for many of our colleagues on the floor there,” he said.

 

 “All 360 of us — many were unlucky. Some were lucky. I used the word ‘lucky’ deliberately because this election was not as it should be, not so much about the performance of members whether on the floor or in their constituencies.

 

“It was about a lot of other things. It was about religion. It was about ethnicity. It was about so many other things which I hope that as we develop as a nation, one’s election would be based solely, or at least mostly, on his or her performance on the floor and in the constituency.”

 

‘WE’LL WORK TO PERFECT ELECTORAL ACT’

 

Gbajabiamila said lawmakers will work to “perfect” the 2022 Electoral Act.

 

In 2022, several lawmakers failed in their bids to secure their party’s ticket in the primary election.

 

The senate and house of representatives had adopted compulsory direct primaries for political parties in the 2022 Electoral Bill but President Muhammadu Buhari declined assent to the proposed law.

 

While rejecting the bill, Buhari said adopting compulsory direct primaries “violates the spirit of democracy”.

The clause was later deleted by the national assembly before the president signed the bill into law.

 

During the consideration of the bill at the “committee of the whole”, Gbajabiamila was among the lawmakers who supported that direct primaries for political parties be adopted.

 

Gbajabiamila said he “fought tooth and nail to make sure the Electoral Act adopted strictly the direct mode for primaries because of elections”.

 

“Even though at the general elections members lost, a lot of members actually lost their elections at the primaries, where their acceptance by the constituents was not put to test,” he said.

 

 “What was put to test was what one or two leaders in their constituencies determined whether they were returning or not. So we lost a lot of legislators even at the primaries level, and that does not help our democracy.

 

“So hopefully moving forward, we would perfect that document, the Electoral Act, which many people have celebrated but still not perfect yet.

 

 “Hopefully, we would be able to perfect it.”

 

Gbajabiamila thanked the house of representatives press corps for “all the support” enjoyed by the lower legislative chamber and leadership of the house.

 

In her remarks, Ike, chairperson of the corps, commended Gbajabiamila for the passage of the electoral bill, adding that it has improved the electoral process.

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