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NASS Crisis: Buhari Meets APC Reps Today

Ahead Of Their Tomorrow’s Resumption APC Members Of House of Representatives Are Scheduled To Meet President Muhammadu Buhari To Resolve The Leadership Crisis In The Lower Chamber

Ahead of tomorrow’s resumption from month recess by the House of Representatives, President Muhammadu Buhari will this evening at 5p.m meet with the APC members of the green chamber at the New Banquet Hall of the State Hous. Mallam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, who confirmed the meeting however did not state any reason. Coming a day before the resumption day of the crisis-torn House of Representatives since the election of Hon. Yakubu Dogara as Speaker on June 9 in place of the preferred APC candidate for the position, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, the meeting is an attempt by the President to broker peace after repeated efforts by leaders of the party, including the party constituted Governor Aminu Tambuwal’s Committee, to intervene have failed.

Even so, the meeting is seen as a further exploration of a last ditched effort to return the heated House to normal footing in line with the commitment of Buhari to get his cabinet together and begin work in earnest. Since Friday, the President who had continued to stick with his principled stand to let the Federal lawmakers resolve the matter has been trying to walk the tight rope to balance the various interests involved in the face-off as the weekend meeting he had with Gbajabiamila ended with no formal commitment.

That is the reason he had instead called a larger meeting involving all the members. Infact, following the recent crisis flaming at the House of Representative respectively over the sharing of principal offices, there are indications that the resumption of the plenary today may be disrupted by the Gbajiamila’s because of Dogara’s insistence on sharing the positions of principal officers according to federal character and geopolitical zonal sharing formula.

At the weekend, members of the House loyal to Speaker Dogara claimed a deal has been struck with the rival faction loyal to the leadership of the All Progressives Congress APC and Gbajabiamila, saying the crisis in the lower legislative chamber is now officially over. But the Gbajabiamila immediately rose against the claim, saying no agreement has been reached, and that the so-called Dogara formula remained unacceptable to their camp.

However the spokesperson of the Dogara group, Abdulmumini Jibrin, addressed a press conference in Abuja, saying an arrangement, known as the Dogara Formula, had been hammered out after extensive consultation. Under the arrangement, which he said had been accepted by members of the two rival factions, the group loyal to Mr. Gbajabiamila would produce the House leader from the North West and Chief Whip from the South South.

Mr. Jibrin said the new formula had thrown up what is now known as “Equity Team”. He said: “In line with the Formula, the Equity Team has Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa(APC Kano, North West) as House Leader, Hon Buba Jibrin(APC Kogi, North Central) as Deputy Leader, Hon. Pally Iriase(APC Edo, South South) as Chief Whip and Hon. Chike Okafor(APC Imo, South East) as Deputy Chief Whip,” he said.

Mr. Jibrin said both the Speaker and a great majority of the APC caucus in the House, including “gladiators” in the Gbajabiamila’s group such as Messrs. Mongunu, Doguwa and Iriase support and stand by the Equity Team. “We have commenced collection of signatures which has reached advanced stage to affirm the Dogara formula”, he said.

Since the Speaker has about 200 positions to share out, many members will have the opportunity to serve the country, the lawmaker said. Mr. Jibrin said the Speaker’s camp worked out the new arrangement “in order to actualise the needed peace and unity in the Green Chamber so as to commence work for the Nigerian People and provide support for President, Muhammadu Buhari”.

“Let me reiterate our resolve that President Buhari is going to enjoy the maximum and unprecedented support of the APC caucus in the House in order for him to achieve all the laudable programmes of this government,” he said. But shortly after Mr. Jibrin briefed the media, a member loyal to the APC and Mr. Gbajabiamila, Nasiru Zangon- Daura, circulated a statement on behalf of his group denying that any agreement had been reached.

“The APC loyalists group hereby deny and unequivocally reject any purported endorsement of a so-called formula on the APC leadership in the House of Representatives,” he said Mr. Zangon-Daura said any member of the loyalist group who “claims to be part of this arrangement acts on his own and not on behalf of the group”.

Mr. Dogara’s proposal, which he forwarded to the national chairman of the APC, John Oyegun, is what Mr. Jibrin announced over the weekend.

The Speaker had argued that since the North-East and South-West had produced Speaker and Deputy Speaker already, the remaining principal positions should go to the North- West, North-Central, South-South and South-East in the spirit of “equity, fairness, justice, a strong precedence and provision of the constitution”. But the party is still insisting on the implementation of the contents of the letter by Chief John Oyegun directing that the party’s choice and dictates must be followed. President Buhari is expected to break the stalemate after today’s meeting.

                                                                                                                                                                     -Tony Ailemen, Abuja

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