By Femi Ogunshola, Abuja.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has condemned the introduction of factors such as ethnicity and religion into the nation’s general elections
He said that the Feb. 25 general elections were mainly about ethnicity and religion, rather than performance.
The speaker made the observation when the executives of the House of Representatives Press Corps, led by its Chairman, Grace Ike, visited him in his office in Abuja on Wednesday.
Gbajabiamila lauded the press corps for being supportive and playing a critical role in nation building.
He said that the contributions of the press corps to the development of the country could not be quantified.
The speaker, however, regretted that the last National Assembly election was determined by factors besides the lawmakers’ performance.
He said, “It was a hard won battle, not just for me but also for many of our colleagues on the floor there — 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,” he said.
Gbajabiamila said that he hoped that as Nigeria developed as a nation, one’s election would be solely based, or at least mostly on his or her performance on the floor and in the constituency.
“That is what I hope will happen, as we move along and that is why I mentioned the Electoral Act that was just passed.
“That is why I fought tooth and nail to make sure the Electoral Act adopted strictly the direct mode for primaries because of elections.”
He said that although at the general elections, some House members lost but a lot of the members actually lost their elections at the party primaries, where their acceptance by their constituents was not put to test.
Earlier, Ike congratulated the speaker on his victory at the elections.
The chairperson of the press corps lauded the speaker for his leadership qualities in the House by ensuring everyone was carried along, as well as for his contributions to lawmaking and governance.
She particularly commended him for his efforts toward the successful passage of the Electoral Act, which would ensure that the right leaders were chosen by the people.