House Speaker Yakubu Dogara has disclosed that he could not read the list of principal officers from All Progressives Congress (APC) because the North Central caucus of the APC had served him a court process challenging the party’s list of principal officers.
Dogara said the development prevented him from reading the APC list contained in a letter addressed to him at Thursday’s rowdy plenary session.
He made the disclosure when he received a forum of former members led by Hons. Dauda Bundot and Jonathan Asake who paid him a courtesy call.
About 35 APC North Central lawmakers have dragged the party to court insisting that the party’s selection of principal officers violates provisions of the 1999 Constitution, House Standing Orders and parliamentary convention.
Dogara said, “Before I saw the (APC) letter, there was a court process served to the leadership of the House. What they (North Central lawmakers) are contesting is very simple: Whether it is in accordance with the Constitution and the House Rules that a political party has the right to chose the principal officers of the House. The second question is: Assuming the political party has the right, whether it is in tandem with the Constitution to exclude their zone (North Central), whether that meets the constitutional requirement of Federal Character in appointments.”
Dogara said he was “hesitant” to announce the position of the APC because there are “issues of law, issues relating to court, issues relating to the provisions of the Constitution.”
According to the House Speaker, in a situation where the constitution or House Standing Orders is not explicit on whether the six principal majority positions must go to all six geo-political zones, the House should rely on its parliamentary traditions and precedents.
“The tradition has been that it should go to six zones in line with the constitutional provision relating to Federal Character. So this is the bone of contention.
“As leaders, we are bound by the Constitution and when we got that directive from the party, we said that we must defend the Constitution, we must enforce our rules…certain sections of our members felt ‘well, whatever it is, let the House know, that the party is supreme.’ So, that was what led to the near fracas which we witnessed on the floor of the House,” he added.
The APC National Working Committee (NWC) in a Tuesday letter to Dogara, listed the approved principal officers as – House Leader: Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (South West); Deputy House Leader: Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa (North West); Chief Whip: Hon. M. T. Monguno (North East); Deputy Chief Whip: Hon. Pally Iriase (South South).
Dogara said the development prevented him from reading the APC’s list contained in the letter addressed to him at Thursday’srowdy plenary session.
“The tradition has been that its principal offices should go to six zones in line with the constitutional provision relating to the federal character. So this is the bone of contention.