The leadership tussle over appointment of principal officers in the House of Representatives has deepened as All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers loyal to the defeated speakership candidate, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila have rejected the zoning formula proposed by Speaker Yakubu Dogara.
The group insisted that the party’s position must be obeyed. Dogara had last Thursday written to the APC’s national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun notifying him of his decision to zone the position of Majority Leader to North-West; Chief Whip to South-South, Deputy Leader to North-Central and Deputy Whip to South- East as against the party’s arrangement that Gbajabiamila from South-West be made leader, Hon. Pally Iriase from South-South be named Chief Whip, while Deputy Leader should go to Alhassan Ado Doguwa from North-West. According to Oyegun’s letter, Hon. Mohammed Monguno from North-East, who lost the deputy speakership should be made Deputy Whip.
In a counter-letter dated July 18 titled “Nomination of Principal Officers in the House of Representatives” and addressed to the national chairman, the Gbajabiamila camp under the auspices of APC Loyalists Group rejected in its entirety reasons adduced by Dogara for defying the party’s sharing arrangement, insisting that the party is supreme and its directives must be obeyed and respected. The letter signed by the group’s leader, Hon. Nasiru Sani Zangon-Daura (APC, Katsina), maintained that the party had made so much concession in favour of Dogara, warning that “enough is enough”.
The letter reads: “Our attention has been drawn to the letter written to you by the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara in response to your letter to him almost a month prior.We find Hon. Dogara’s letter fraught with several fundamental flaws in his analysis and interpretation of the Constitution and House rules. This is to set the records straight. “This party has bent over backwards for the Speaker and enough is enough.
He refused zoning before the elections and because of his refusal the party decided to conduct primaries and allow the members themselves to decide, he refused that too and struck a deal with the opposition. It seems for the speaker who won his election by eight marginal votes, it is his way or the high way.
“We cannot adopt this winner takes it all approach as it will be unfair to Nigerians. Our party campaigned against the Peoples Democratic Party’s impunity in all its ramifications and so did the Nigerian people and we cannot be seen to be condoning the very thing we condemned the PDP for.
That smacks of hypocrisy. The people of Nigeria voted for change and that change includes not sacrificing merit on the altar of ethnicity. “We are not in doubt that all the shenanigans is merely a pretext to exclude our principal, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, a man acknowledged to have served the House, party and country meritoriously, who was the face of opposition in the National Assembly and who led our party from minority to majority in the House.
A man who gallantly congratulated Mr. Speaker after an unexpected loss and who extended a hand of cooperation to him severally. Such injustice must not be allowed to stand.” Reiterating its stand on the party’s supremacy, the Loyalists Group said: “Mr. Chairman, history beckons and posterity will always judge our conduct and contributions to the development of our democracy. A political party is an institution and its supremacy is universal and not a Nigerian coinage. “It is on record that the Speaker defied the party going into the elections and he is about to repeat such defiance.
The party must assert its authority over all its members the Speaker inclusive as none of us came to the House as independent candidates and we subscribed expressly and impliedly to the party’s supremacy in political activities.”
The lawmakers argued that “the president himself has spoken severally that the party is supreme and its decision must be obeyed. He said the same thing just recently at the National Executive (NEC) meeting.” On the constitutional issue of federal character referred to by Dogara, the group noted that “we stand on our earlier position that whilst we accept and agree with the principle of federal character, the constitutional provisions in that regard are strictly in reference to the appointment to the federal executive and its agencies.”
“Assuming federal character was meant to be applicable to the National Assembly, then certainly one of the Houses of the National Assembly must be headed by a southerner. Remember sir, that in the run-up to the election of the Senate President and Speaker, our party made a deliberate choice, to apply this same principle of federal character such that all qualified zones will be represented in the spirit of national unity, which we embrace, but we all know how that ended.
“Furthermore to accept the speaker’s arrangement would mean the two most powerful positions in the Senate and House after the presiding officers would be occupied by the North,” the group stated. On the matter of morality, the letter said: “Right now, the Senate President and the Speaker are both from the North.
We find it highly immoral, disingenuous, insincere and downright hypocritical, that someone who rejected and was anti-zoning will now be the person waiving the zoning card when it serves his purpose. We cannot pick and choose or flip-flop on the application of zoning based on our whims and caprices and he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.”