In defiance of the nominees selected by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to occupy the principal offices in the House of Representatives, the Consolidation Group, a group in support of Speaker Yakubu Dogara, has presented its nominees for the posts.
The group presented Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa (Kano APC) from the North-west as the House Leader and Hon. Pally Iriase (Edo APC) from the South-south as the Chief Whip.
Doguwa and Iriase are members of the Loyalists Group headed by Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila who was penciled down by APC for the post of House Leader.
The Consolidation Group also presented Hon. Buba Jibrin (Kogi APC) from the North-central zone as Deputy House Leader and Hon. Chika Okafor (Imo APC) from the South-east as the Deputy Chief Whip.
In a statement issued by the group’s spokesman, Hon. Jibrin Abdulmumim, the group called on its supporters to intensify lobbying at the zonal caucuses for the emergence of its nominees.
“For the benefit of enlightenment, it is important to state that in terms of the leadership status of these vacant positions, the House Leader is the most senior, followed by the Chief Whip.
“In the spirit of reconciliation and unity, Speaker Dogara has graciously conceded the positions of House Leader and Chief Whip to the Femi Gbajabiamila group.
“Kindly note that Hon. Alhassan Doguwa is the head of the Gbajabiamila group while Hon Pally Iriase was in the speakership race but stepped down for Gbajabiamila and assumed a very prominent role in the same group,” the statement said.
The Consolidation Group urged APC to disregard the July 20 letter of the Loyalists Group, alleging that it was written by Gbajabiamila and Hon. James Faleke without due consultation with the APC caucus in the House, many of whom are in full support of Dogara’s peace efforts.
“If not for the frequent intervention of the past Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, Gbajabiamila would have been removed as Minority Leader by the South-west caucus in the Seventh Assembly.
“We know him, but it appears Mr. President (Muhammadu Buhari) and the party do not. Time shall tell,” the Dogara group alleged.
In another development, the South-east APC caucus in the House has protested the marginalisation of the zone in the distribution of the positions of principal officers in the lower chamber, as proposed by Gbajabiamila and his supporters.
The caucus, in a letter to the Chairman of the APC, Chief John Oyegun, Buhari, Tambuwal and Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha, dated July 21, 2015, stated that it would only withdraw its suit on the matter before the court if the distribution is resolved in accordance with the proposal made by Dogara on principle offices.
The Loyalists’ Group had argued that the zone could not be accommodated in the distribution office, as it produced only two new members who do not have the cognate legislative experience as prescribed by the House rules.
Referring to the letter by the Loyalists’ Group to Oyegun on Monday, the South-east caucus, in its reaction signed by Hon. Austin Chukwukere argued that any person acquainted with the rules and practice of the House knows that a new member is regarded as having “cognate legislative experience” immediately he is sworn in as a member as it is only new members-elect that are affected by the rule.
The caucus added that established precedents in the Senate and House had ensured that zonal representation is respected, even when there are few lawmakers from a zone.
“It is as a result of this, that the Seventh Senate, elected Senator Ayoola Hosea Agboola, Deputy Chief Whip, even though he was ‘new’ and the only member from his party (Peoples Democratic Party) from the South-west.
“Furthermore, in the Seventh House of Representatives, Hon Mulikat Akande was made House Leader, even though she was one of only five members from her party from her zone.
“Even only recently, in the Eighth Senate, Senator Francis Alimikhena from the South-south has been made Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, a principal officer, even though he is a ‘new’ member and the only member of APC from the South-south,” the letter read.
It described as an insult the argument from a “non-existent” Loyalists’ Group on the members from the South-east by the tone of the group’s letter “which sought to promote an individual who lost a democratically conducted election but who refuses to give up, and who is so super human that the House cannot function without him”.
The caucus called on the APC to be fair to them due to its contributions to the success of the APC in the last general election.
However, the crises over the distribution of the principal positions in the House took a turn for the worse yesterday when two members dragged Dogara before a Federal High Court, Abuja asking the court to compel him to announce the officers nominated by the APC.
Hon. Abubakar Lado Abdullahi (APC, Niger) and Hon. Olajide Abdul Jimoh (APC, Lagos) in a suit asked the court to determine whether Section 14 of the Nigerian Constitution on federal character applies to the National Assembly, and in particular, the House with respect to the appointment of principal officers, and in particular, the positions of Majority Leader, Deputy Majority Leader, Majority Chief Whip, and Majority Deputy Chief Whip.
The APC chairman, in a letter had directed Dogara to announce Gbajabiamila as the House Leader; Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa (North-west) as Deputy Leader; Hon. Mohammed Monguno (North-east) as the House Whip; and Hon. Pally Iriase (South-south) as the Deputy Chief Whip.
Dogara had declined, saying the distribution does not ensure equitable distribution for all zones, forcing the lower chamber into a recess after a fracas over the issue ensued.