The Presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC for the 2023 general elections, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Sunday, said that he was still searching for a running mate.
It will be recalled that he had submitted the name of Alhaji Kabir Ibrahim Masari, a Katsina politician to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to beat the deadline given by the electoral umpire.
However, recent events had indicated that the name was a placeholder for the real running mate.
Speaking during a presentation of the 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, Tinubu who hailed the healthy relationship the Speaker shared with his deputy, Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase said he was still searching.
He appreciated Gbajabiamila for the role he played during the APC presidential primaries to facilitate his victory.
He said: “As a Minority Leader, he consulted widely then 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 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 picking 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 roasts plantain), and my Mum was alive then, asking me to see to it each time I have 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. Are we going to say that the children of the poor are not deserving 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 many times and people might be bored, they might be envious too. They might be jealous. I won landslide. I thank you.
“I could see a Deputy (Wase) sitting down there too. You are a very good symbol of unity, dependability, and honesty. Thank you. Thank you for both of you. You’ve not rocked the boat. I will need to learn from both of you how you made the pair work because I’m still searching for my running mate”.
President Muhammadu Buhari who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari described Gbajabiamila as a true Patriot, skillful parliamentarian who worked for the unity of the country.
“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 peace 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 in the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives and therefore he feels that with capable hands in both chambers of the NASS 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 remarks, Gbajabiamila said he had benefited immensely from wisdom of his mentors like Tinubu, pledging to also assist others.
“My life is a testament to the transformative effect of the right kind of mentorship. I have benefitted from the wisdom and guidance of mentors who took an interest in me, supported my aspirations and provided me with the resources to thrive as a lawyer in the private sector and in public service. I intend, through the Legislative Mentoring Initiative (LMI), to try to do the same for others.
“The Legislative Mentoring Initiative (LMI) is a youth leadership development programme to identify, equip and empower a new generation of young people to lead in government and public service, particularly in the legislature. The Initiative will focus on training young people for the legislature because I believe that the legislature is the soul of the nation. Through law making and appropriations, the legislature defines the present and shapes the future of a nation. Legislative priorities speak to the character of a country and reflect the values and culture of the society. Therefore, developing a deep bench of young people from across the country who understand the legislative function and can perform optimally in different capacities within the federal and state legislatures is imperative.
“Through a rigorous and impactful mentorship programme, the Initiative will provide young people with practical tools to awaken their desire to serve the nation and strengthen their capacity to do so effectively. The course will include a hands-on internship programme, a Distinguished Speaker Series, and post-fellowship job placements”, he said.
The Speaker however appealed to Tinubu to consult him in choosing his running mate.
“As a parting shot, I will like to say you should consult with his younger brother (Gbajabiamila), but this time it won’t be for free,” he said.