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Meet President Tinubu’s New Aides, CoS Gbajabiamila and SGF Akume

‘Gbaja’ will serve as a key liaison between the President and other government officials, political leaders, and stakeholders.

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu on Friday announced the appointment of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, as his Chief of Staff, and a former Deputy Governor of Jigawa State, Senator Ibrahim Hassan Hadejia, as Deputy Chief of Staff.
The President, in a press statement issued by State House Director of Information, Abiodun Oladunjoye, also named former Governor of Benue State and immediate past Minister of Special Duties, George Akume, as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
Later Friday afternoon, Gbajabiamila formally accepted his appointment as the Chief of Staff to the President.
In a brief statement, Gbajabiamila appreciated Tinubu for finding him worthy, saying with his 20 years’ experience at the National Assembly, he was well equipped for the task ahead.
He said, “I shall work with Mr. President in discharging the enormous task ahead of him for the peace and progress of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I shall give my best when I take office on June 14, 2023 as reflected in Mr. President’s official letter.”
The newly appointed Chief of Staff to the President is not an outsider when it comes to Nigeria’s political sphere.
Popularly called ‘Gbaja,’ the CoS is an age-long associate of Tinubu, and both have maintained this relationship on a steady course.
His primary duty as Chief of Staff is to act as the principal aide to the President. He will serve as a key liaison between the President and other government officials, political leaders, and stakeholders.
Often regarded as the ‘gatekeeper’ for the President, the Chief of Staff does not hold direct constitutional powers. Yet, the influence and impact of the office on decision-making processes cannot be underestimated.

Abbas, Shehu Sani Commend Appointments

Meanwhile, the APC candidate for the position of Speaker in the 10th National Assembly, Tajudeen Abbas, has congratulated Gbajabiamila on his appointment as the Chief of Staff to the President.
Abbas said Gbajabiamila’s appointment is a testament of his pedigree, capacity and competence to handle any national assignment given to him.
The lawmaker, who represents Zaria Federal Constituency of Kaduna State, hailed President Tinubu for making the right choice.
He said Gbajabiamila is bringing to the table two decades of parliamentary experience during which he occupied the positions of Minority Whip, Minority Leader, Majority/House Leader and ultimately the Speaker.
Abbas said Tinubu had once again demonstrated that he is truly a talent hunter and a strategist by appointing Gbajabiamila as Chief of Staff.
Also, Senator Shehu Sani has commended Tinubu for not appointing his Chief of Staff from among any of the former governors from the North-west geopolitical zone.
Senator Sani, who took to his twitter handle on Friday said, “If President Tinubu had appointed any of the North-west governors as his Chief of Staff, he would have incubated serpents in his palace.”
There were speculations that President Tinubu would have appointed the former governor of Kaduna State, Nasiru el Rufai or the former governor of Kano State, Ganduje as Chief of Staff.
Senator Sani went further to describe the appointment of George Akume as the SGF as a fair deal for the North-central.
He appealed to Tinubu to avoid nepotism in the appointments of the security chiefs, “like former President Buhari did and yet the North was not saved from the hands of bandits and other non-state actors,” and urged the new president to do things differently.

The Man, Gbajabiamila

Born on June 25, 1962, Gbajabiamlila had his secondary education at Igbobi College, Yaba, Lagos and proceeded to the King Williams College, Isle of Man, the United Kingdom for his Advanced Level.
He graduated at the top of his class and went on to the University of Lagos for a Bachelor of Law degree programme. He graduated with honours in 1983 and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1984.
Gbajabiamila started his career as a lawyer with the law firm of Bentley, Edu and Co. in Lagos, where he distinguished himself with an exemplary discipline and good work ethic. He eventually left Bentley, Edu and Co. to set up his practice, Femi Gbaja and Co.
In 1998, he returned to school at the John Marshall Law School in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States of America. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from John Marshall and earned for himself a Juris Doctor degree. He then went on to write and pass the Georgia Bar exams, after which he set up another thriving law office where he practised until his return to Nigeria.
Gbajabiamila delved into partisan politics and offered himself up for service on the platform of the then Alliance for Democracy and has thereafter been elected for six consecutive terms to represent the people of Surulere 1 Federal Constituency of Lagos in the National Assembly.
The CoS was always on the side of truth and justice, and his views truly reflected the wishes and aspirations of his constituents. This was especially evident during the “third term debate” when he was Chairman of the 2007 movement in the House, a group primarily credited for ending the “third term agenda” of the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo.
He served as the Minority Whip of the house, and by the end of his second term in office, Gbajabiamila had sponsored the highest number of Bills in the National Assembly.
Gbajabiamila proposed an amendment to the National Honours Act of 1964 to make stringent guidelines for selection of National Award nominees. He thus became the third and youngest Nigerian to reject National Honours after late Chinua Achebe and Prof. Grace Alele-Williams.
In 2015, Gbajabiamila put himself forward to lead the House as Speaker of the 8th House. He narrowly lost that election. He put himself forward again in 2019 and was on the 12th of June, 2019 overwhelmingly elected Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives.
Gbajabiamila also served as the Chairman of the Conference of African Speakers of Parliament.

Benue-Born Akume

Akume was born on December 27, 1953, and is from Wannune, Tarka Council Area of Benue State.
He obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Ibadan in 1978 and a Master’s degree in Industrial and Labour Relations from the same university in 1986.
Akume was a Senator and served as the Minority Leader from June 2011 to June 2015.
He was also the Governor of Benue State from May 1999 to May 2007 and the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army.
Akume was re-elected Senator for Benue North-west in the April 2011 elections, running on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria. He won another term in 2015 but lost to Senator Orke Jev of the Peoples Democratic Party in 2019.
In 2019, President Buhari appointed Akume as Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha and Udora Orizu in Abuja