The national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) appeared set on Wednesday to lose its grip over the members in the House of Representatives as more lawmakers and caucuses continued to revolt against the party’s stance on the appointment of principal officers.
For the second day running, Speaker Yusuf Dogara refused to read out a letter from the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, on the nomination of four members as House Leader, Deputy Leader, Chief Whip and Deputy Chief Whip.
The difficulties of the ruling party were compounded as more state caucuses paid allegiance to the Speaker with members from Yobe and Kebbi telling him that they were supportive of his actions as Speaker.
Besides, APC members from the North-Central and South-East zones in a briefing flayed the Odigie-Oyegun leadership for being insensitive to the principle of Federal Character in its recommendations on the election of principal officers.
The ruling party had written the Speaker to propose Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila (South-West) as House Leader, Mohammed Monguno (North-East) as Chief Whip; Alhassan Doguro (North-West) as Deputy Leader; and Pally Iriase (South-South) as Deputy Whip.
Details of the letter spurred some of the caucuses left out, like the North-Central and South-East to object to the party’s nominations.
Even the North-West, where a majority of the members had earlier backed Gbajabiamila in his speakership aspiration, were said to have now abandoned him in his quest for the position of leader. The North-West members were opposed to the fact that the party’s stance would have left the South-West with the two principal positions of Deputy Speaker and House Leader while leaving two other geopolitical zones without any principal office position.
A high level source in the House said it was unlikely the principal officers would even emerge Thursday even as the source ruled out Gbajabiamila from the position.
“Those who were backing him have seen reality and many of them are now going behind him to pledge loyalty to the Speaker. Even more, many of them are saying that it is not possible for his zone to get two positions while the South-South and South-East get nothing,” the source said.
Even more, many members were also aligning with the reality of Speaker Dogara’s entrenchment and moving over to his position on issues as a way of being rewarded with favourable committee positions.
“Many members are now faced with the stark reality that committee positions are about to be shared and members want to get favourable positions,” a top level source privy to the developments said last night.
Solidarity call on Dogara
The Yobe members, who had almost totally opposed Dogara’s emergence as Speaker, paid a solidarity call on him Wednesday where they pledged to forge along with him on his position on issues concerning the House.
N-Central, S-East Reps decry marginalisation
Members from North-Central and South-East zones who would be denied office by the permutations of the party openly condemned their party’s stance, affirming it as an act of marginalisation.
The North-Central caucus in the House led by Rep. Ahman Pategi from Kwara State said that the party’s position was taken without consulting the caucus, adding that they were shocked when the party stated in its letters that they arrived at the decision after due consultations.
Flanked by about 20 other members from the zone, Pategi said: “We are also amazed by the directive of the party to the leadership of the House to take the necessary action on the purported choice by the party, which we see as a clear usurpation of the powers of the zonal caucuses and their members as guaranteed by the Constitution and the Standing Rules of the House of Representatives.
“We, therefore, strongly reject the purported selection by the party which we see as being in conflict with the principle of the Federal Character as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic.”
He said the North-Central caucus believed that there should be fairness and equity in the selection of other principal positions of the House of Representatives following the emergence of both the Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
“It will be inconsiderate of the party to consider North-East and South-West that had produced the Speaker and Deputy Speaker for other positions. The exclusion of two zones is not acceptable,” he said.
They said with about 40 members, they would not allow their zone to be excluded in the sharing of positions and that they would use all available legal channels to pursue their cause.
Also addressing journalists on behalf of the South-East Caucus of the APC, Rep. Austine Chukwukere, representing Ideato South/Ideato North and Rep. John Chike Okeafor, Okigwe South of Imo State, condemned the attempt to exclude the zone in the process of decision making in the House, saying: “We can’t stand here and allow the party sweep us out.”
Chukwukere stated that if the South-East was not carried along in the appointment of principal officers, its representatives would lack the moral courage to convince their constituents and the entire five states of the South-East that the party was fair to every Nigerian.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Northern caucus at the end of its meeting last night resolved to present Rep. Binta Bello from Gombe State and Rep. Yakubu Barde from Kaduna State for the two positions expected to be given to the North.