You are currently viewing THE AFTERMATH: What happens to Gbaja’s rep seat now that he’s COS?
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On June 2, President Bola Tinubu announced the appointment of Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house of representatives, as his chief of staff.

Gbajabiamila is expected to commence his role as COS on June 14 after he would have resigned as a member of the house of representatives.

On February 26, he won his election for a sixth term to represent the Surulere 1 constituency at the green chamber in the 9th assembly.

Gbajabiamila, a candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), polled 19,717 votes to defeat the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who scored 5,121 votes.

He was first elected to the house of representatives in 2003 and has won five straight elections since his debut.

Gbajabiamila, a lawyer, had previously served as minority whip, minority leader, opposition leader, and majority leader before getting elected as speaker in 2019 after failure to clinch the position in 2015.

Now that he has been appointed as the COS to the new president, questions have duly been asked about how Gbajabiamila is expected to transition from 9th national assembly speaker to COS.

Legally, the lifespan of the 9th assembly will expire on June 11 which is a Sunday, a non-working day, while the next day, June 12, is Democracy Day.

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The 10th assembly will be inaugurated on June 13 after which Gbajabiamila, who would automatically not contest for the role of speaker anymore, due to zoning, is expected to resign as a lawmaker and start a new role as COS.

WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY?

Section 68 of Nigeria’s constitution says: “A member of the senate or the house of representatives shall vacate his seat in the house of which he is a member if [D] he becomes president, vice-president, governor, deputy governor or a minister of the government of the federation or a commissioner of the government of a state or a special adviser.”

Sub section E states that, “save as otherwise prescribed by this constitution, he becomes a member of a commission or other body established by this constitution by any other law”.

From the foregoing, it is clear that Gbajabiamila cannot legally operate as speaker and COS to the president until he vacates his seat.

Speaking on his appointment, Gbajabiamila, seemingly conscious of the provision of the law, said he is due to take office on June 14 – days after the inauguration of the 10th assembly – when he should have resigned.

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“I shall give my best when I take office on June 14, 2023 as reflected in Mr. President’s official letter,” he wrote.

More so, section 306 [7] of the constitution says “the notice of resignation of a member of a legislative house shall be addressed to the president of the senate or as the case may require, to the speaker of the legislative house in question”.

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The foregoing affirms the power of the presiding officer (the new speaker) of the house of representatives to declare the seat of Surulere 1 vacant immediately after Gbajabiamila resigns from the position.

The implication is that it is until the presiding officer declares the seat vacant that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has the power to organise a by-election wherein the APC would have to nominate another candidate to contest with candidates from opposition parties for the Surulere 1 federal constituency seat.

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Credit: The Cable

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