The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has spoken about the presidential and National Assembly elections held on February 25, 2023.
According to him, voters put ethnicity and religion into consideration while voting.
Gbajabiamila expressed regrets that the elections, which were the first batch in the series of polls in the 2023 general elections, were determined by factors besides the performance of lawmakers.
The Speaker said this while speaking to members of the House of Reps Press Corps on Tuesday evening.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, winner of the presidential election, defeating Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, Peter Obi of the Labour Party, Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party and other 14 other contestants.
The LP candidate had, however, defeated Tinubu in his base, Lagos State, where Gbajabiamila also represents.
Gbajabiamila said, “It was a hard-won battle not just for me but for many of our colleagues on the floor (of the House) 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 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. 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 added, “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. 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.”
The Speaker hinted that the National Assembly would further review the Electoral Act 2022, which is the amended version of the Electoral Act 2010 and is being applied to the 2023 general elections.
“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,” he said.