Dogara: What Gbajabiamila’s Loyalists Told Buhari | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Dogara: What Gbajabiamila’s Loyalists Told Buhari

Posted: Jul 2, 2015 at 3:10 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Chesa Chesa, Abuja



A FACTION of the House of Representatives led by Femi Gbajabiamila stormed Aso Rock on Wednesday June 1, 2015 night demanding that President Muhammadu Buhari should end his silence on the crisis in the National Assembly.

The members also urged Buhari call to order the House Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, whose refusal to heed party directives led to the recent commotion in the House.

The National Assembly has been engulfed in crisis for a month now following the emergence of Bukola Saraki as Senate President, and Yakubu Dogara as House Speaker against the wish of their ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

But, Gbajabiamila, leading 29 other aggrieved colleagues, engaged the President in a closed-door parley for about an hour at the Villa to raise the alarm that some House members led by Dogara were plotting to defect to the rival Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The group stressed that Buhari and APC state governors had severally admonished the House members to abide by the party’s position, yet Dogara and 38 other APC lawmakers ?continue  to collude with the PDP to flagrantly disobey the President, thus bringing the APC and it’s government to ridicule before Nigerians.

Besides, their continued rebellion against the party has left Dogara and his deputy sitting pretty while those who had been loyal to the party, including Gbajabiamila who was favoured for the Speakership, are left without compensation.

The group told Buhari that “the conduct of the 39 APC members colluding with the PDP is tantamount to affront, ultimately targeted at polarising our party so as to give room for many of them to decamp to the PDP.

“It is therefore imperative for Mr. President to take a stand and save the integrity of the party, by calling to order, the 39 members, which include the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, to respect, honour and obey our party leaders and their directives.

“We as loyal party members shall continue to abide by the party constitution, respect and honour our party leaders and their directives.

“We strongly appeal to you to direct the Speaker to return to our fold and be truly elected Speaker on APC platform.

“He should be directed to announce the other four party principal officers positions as directed by the party as it has always been the convention.?

Gbajabiamila urged Buhari to ignore the claims of the Dogara faction that its conduct was based on the principles of Federal Character because the principle has no legal binding on the National Assembly, but applies only to federal government agencies, which the House of Representatives is not.

According to Gbajabiamila: “It should be noted that the Federal Character principle as embedded in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is not justiciable and of no legal consequence.

“Its provision in Section14 of the Constitution is only applicable to appointments in Federal Ministries and Agencies.

“The House of Representatives is not an agency of the Federal Government and the principal officers positions are elective and not by appointment.

“If the Federal Character is applicable to the National Assembly, then both the Senate President and the Speaker cannot come from the North, one of them should be advised to step down.”

He buttressed his position by noting that “during the 6th Assembly (2007-2011), the following officers were elected from the North West:

(I) The President and Commander in Chief; (ii) Ismaila Kawu; (III) Hon Mutawalle. The two occupied two out of the four principal officers positions of the Minority Party; and (iv) Hon Aminu Tambuwal was elected Deputy Chief Whip.

“Also during the 7th Assembly, the following officers in Government were elected from the North West – (I) The Vice President; ?(II) The Speaker, Rt. Hon Aminu Tambuwal; (III) Hon. Ismaila Kawu, Deputy Minority Leader and (IV) Hon. Garba Datti, Deputy Minority Whip. There was never an issue of Federal Character in these instances.”?

The embittered lawmakers stressed that while the candidates of the majority (Gbajabiamila  and Mongunu) openly congratulated the winners and continued to cooperate with them in the House, the opposition and the 39 APC members have continued to hold the APC leadership in contempt.

“Whereas we, the 174 party faithful and loyalists, had been obedient to the party. What shall be the reward of our loyalty to the party?

“The party has chosen not to punish the 39 APC members including the elected Speaker and Deputy Speaker, but chose to direct, as it is customary and conventional, on how the other four principal officers should be distributed.

“Alas! The opposition and the 39 members continue to hold the ruling party in contempt by disobeying the Party”, they said, adding that trust in Buhari’s ability to successfully mediate in the crisis so as to save the APC from further embarrassment.

Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Gbajabiamila explained the absence of Dogara and the other faction at the meeting because this was “a caucus” meeting of the party.?

He said the President’s response to their demands was reassuring and expressed the enthusiasm that party’s would be done in the effort to resolve the crisis.