On Thursday, several newspapers reported the appointment of Femi Gbajabiamila, current House of Representatives Speaker, as new Chief of Staff (CoS) to President Bola Tinubu.
There was no official confirmation from the Office of the President, and with the president having no official spokesperson, everything on the appointment was speculative.
Moments after the news went viral, Olanrewaju-Smart Wasiu, Gbajabimila’s CoS, posted a cryptic message on his Facebook page.
Wasiu wrote, “Fake news is a monster that must be curbed. Kindly ignore any fake news quoting this account for posting any political appointment. Nothing of such was ever posted here.”
Speaking with pressmen on Thursday, Gbajabiamila himself refused to comment. He said, “Be patient. Be patient. The system works in its own way. Allow the system to work. We will see.”
The system, however, does not allow Speaker Gbajabiamila to be CoS under any circumstances.
According to section 68 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, ‘A member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives shall vacate his seat in the House of which he is a member if – 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.”
By this provision, Gbajabiamila cannot occupy the position of Speaker or member of the green chamber in any capacity and take on an executive appointment.
His resignation from the legislature has to come first before he can officially cross to another arm of government.
The law is clear on checks and balances amongst the three arms of government, and having one person occupy offices across multiple arms would defeat this oversight function.
It remains nine days before the expiry of the ninth assembly, and Gbajabiamila may choose to resign or wait it out before taking on an executive role.
Either way, for the principles of checks and balances to work in Nigeria’s government, appointing Gbajabiamila as CoS must come with his immediate resignation or tenure expiration.