The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila on Friday pledged the support of Nigeria for Mali’s candidate, Mrs Haidara Cisse Aichata, who is vying to become the President of the Pan-African Parliament.
Aichata will become the first woman to occupy the seat in the last 20 years if she emerges victorious.
Speaker Gbajabiamila, while addressing Aichata and the Malian Ambassador to Nigeria who paid him a courtesy visit at the National Assembly, noted that she has the rich pedigree to win the votes of most Member States.
“Let me state very clearly and categorically, I see no reason why we will not support you.
“As a Parliament and as a country, we will put our weight behind you, particularly because you will also be making history as the first woman in the last 20 years to occupy that seat”, the Nigerian Speaker stated.
He recalled that Nigeria too had once vied for and won the position, adding that the country enjoyed the support of Mali back then.
He said the support given by Mali ensured that Hon. Bethel Amadi, now of blessed memory, won the election to become the President of the parliament in 2012.
Gbajabiamila, who assured his visitor that this was Nigeria’s moment to reciprocate the gesture, added that Nigerian lawmakers would not only vote for her but also sell her candidacy to other countries.
He seized the opportunity of the visit to canvass support for Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, who is contesting for the position of Vice-President of the parliament.
“I believe we also have someone in the Senate, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, who is vying for the position of VP, and hopefully he will be your VP.
“We solicit support for him as well,” Gbajabiamila said.
The Nigerian Speaker also used the opportunity to introduce to Aichata, the Conference of Speakers of African Parliament (COSAP), saying, “I am sure by the time you are elected President, COSAP will be with you and collaborate with you for the good of the continent.”
Gbajabiamila spoke on the cordial diplomatic relations between Nigeria and Mali, observing that both West African neighbours have had mutually beneficial engagements over time.
Gbajabiamila spoke further, “I recollect Nigeria had been in the forefront of sending troops when you had problems in Mali.
“In 2018 when you had your election crisis, Nigeria was there, and during the 2020 military coup as well, Nigeria played a critical role. We have had a mutually beneficial relationship between the two countries. We have to sustain that.”
Speaking earlier, Aichata told Gbajabiamila that the sole aim of her visit was to seek the votes of Nigeria to win the election.
She said with the support of Nigeria, one of the most powerful countries in Africa, she was guaranteed victory, a reason she felt it was necessary to pay the visit.
Aichata informed Speaker Gbajabiamila that she had already met with President Muhammadu Buhari and several Nigerian lawmakers, all of who backed her ambition.