Femi Gbajabiamila, the newly appointed Chief of Staff to President Bola Tinubu is, without a doubt, not a stranger at all 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.
No wonder he was designated as the 3rd most powerful man after the president and his vice, at the Executive level of government.
The primary duty of a Chief of Staff is to act as the principal aide and advisor to the President or Governor, as the case may be. They serve as a key liaison between the President and other government officials, political leaders, and stakeholders.
Often regarded as the ‘gatekeeper’ to 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.
Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila, the outgoing Speaker of the House of Representatives, was appointed as the CoS by Tinubu, on Friday, June 2.
He has over 20 years of experience in Nigerian politics, making him familiar with the modus operandi of the nation’s much-heated political system.
Born on June 25, 1962, Gbajabiamlila had his secondary education at Igbobi College, Yaba, Lagos and proceeded from there 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 three-year Bachelor of Laws degree programme. He graduated from the University of Lagos with honours in 1983 and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1984.
Femi Gbajabiamila started his career as a lawyer with the law firm of Bentley, Edu and Co., 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.
Rep. Gbajabiamila proposed an amendment to the National Honours Act of 1964 to make stringent guidelines for selection of National Award nominees. Gbajabiamila 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.