Speakership: Plot by pro-Gbajabiamila lawmakers to adopt open ballot voting meets brick wall

Femi GbajabiamilaA group of lawmakers rooting for the emergence of Hon Femi Gbajabiamila as Speaker of the House of Representatives yesterday moved to amend the House standing orders on voting procedure from secret to open ballot system.

Order 2, Rule 4 (f) (ii) of the House Standing Orders 2014, states: “Voting by secret ballot shall be conducted by the Clerk-at-Table using the list of the members-elect of the House, who shall each be given a ballot paper to cast his vote, with the proposer and seconder as tellers”.

‎It was learnt that the advocates of this amendment were banking on the precedence set when the same House rule was altered few days to the election that produced Aminu Waziri Tambuwal as Speaker in May 2011.

The plan, which was initially to be raised on Wednesday, was suspended to allow its sponsors gather more supporters to push it through. It was then put on the supplementary Order Paper yesterday.

According to a ranking member, who spoke with LEADERSHIP on the condition of anonymity, “They planned to propose the amendment under matters of urgent public importance on Wednesday but changed their minds after realizing that it will be defeated”.

When asked the aim of the amendment, he explained that it will enable “their godfathers” to know who they voted for.

“We are aware that the amendment is being proposed so that their godfather will see them voting for their anointed candidates. Under the secret ballot, nobody will know who each member voted for.

“Secondly, we are also aware that they want to induce members with money to vote for their candidate but they want to make sure that those who collect their money vote for their candidate.

“It is both hypocritical and disingenuous for the same people who pushed for the adoption of the secret ballot four years ago are now working against it for selfish reasons”.

The motion was, however, not taken because objection was raised by lawmakers who noted that the motion was not signed by its purported sponsors.