Francis Moses writes on the current leadership tussle rocking the APC.
From every indication, all is not yet well with the All Progressives Congress (APC), which has been engulfed with crisis. The crisis began as a result of the sharing of the principal offices at the House of Representatives. There are indications that the House Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has dared the immediate past Speaker and Governor of Sokoto State, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, who heads the reconciliatory committee set up after the meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the party in Abuja recently.
Tambuwal’s committee is to work out the modality to resolve the crisis that has currently bedeviled the House. Incidentally, the committee failed to resolve the power tussle in the caucus of the (APC) at the House of Representatives. The committee, which met with the group led by Dogara, and that of a former Minority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, it was gathered, persuaded the latter to drop their ambition. It was however gathered that Gbajabimaila’s group insisted that the South West should produce the Majority Leader, North West Deputy Leader; North-East Chief Whip while Deputy Whip should go to the South-South respectively.
It was also gathered that Hon. Gbajabiamila declined to head an Ad-hoc Committee on Constitution Review. On their part, Hon. Dogara’s group insisted that federal character and zonal balancing must be reflected in the sharing of the positions in such a way that no zone of the country would be left out. However, the spokesman of Hon. Dogara’s group, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, noted that the group agreed to concede the House Leader position to the Gbajabiamila’s group provided that neither the South-West nor the North-East would take the position.
He added that in the event the Gbajabiamila’s group did not accept the concession, all the APC caucuses in the House would go for an election to decide who would become the majority leader. The spokesman also disclosed that similar elections would be conducted to fill the three other positions in line with the provisions of the relevant rules of the House. “The entire APC members would hold an election to elect the House leaders.
If someone says he has 174 members, fine; let us hold an election and see if he actually has that majority he claims,” he noted. However, Gbajabiamila’s group confirmed that the group indeed met with Tambuwal and made its position known that party supremacy must prevail. The group said, “To the best of our knowledge, no counter offer has been made to the APC Loyalists’ group after her first meeting with Tambuwal’s Peace Committee, wherein the APC loyalists clearly stated that in line with party supremacy resolution reached at the last APC NEC meeting, the position of the party on Gbajabiamila as the House Leader is non-negotiable.
“We understand that the Dogara’s group is now playing the zoning card after same group had hitherto before the speakership election of June 9th, 2015 rejected the zoning formula of the party prior to the mock election. Interestingly, the six geopolitical zones in the country are not recognised by the constitution. But if they wish to play the zoning card, then the Senate and House cannot be headed by the North.
“For avoidance of doubt, the issue of South East being denied a principal officer’s seat in the House is hogwash. We have respect for people of South East but we cannot hold brief for a zone that produced only two ‘new’ APC members. The issue of exclusion of Southeast does not exist; rather they are not qualified to be principal officers of the House. For emphasis and clarity, the provision of standing rules of the House, Order 7 Rule 37 states that ‘only members with cognate legislative experience as members of the National Assembly shall be eligible for appointment as principal officers.
“We are also surprised that a group led by Speaker Dogara, who is a lawyer, is talking about a court action, presumably instigated by him based on federal character, when a fresh Law School graduate knows that the issue of federal character as enshrined in S.14 of the constitution is non justiciable and of no legal consequence. “However, as a group that wants peace and quick solution to the logjam in the House, the APC loyalists group would equally subscribe to an election among entire members of the APC House Caucus where all members, irrespective of zones would exercise their right to elect their principal officers”. Interestingly, the former Speaker has assured that the crisis within the party in the National Assembly, would be resolved peacefully. Fielding questions from newsmen, after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the governor assured that normalcy would be restored to the two chambers of the National Assembly.
He maintained that those in the legislature were mature people representing their various constituencies, stressing that “they should know what is best for the party and the country.’’ According to him, the committee has already commenced work, assuring that there was light at the end of the tunnel. He said members of the party would continue to support the President to ensure that APC delivered on its promises to Nigerians.
The former Speaker disclosed that his discussion with the President also bordered on security matters and the need to address other developmental challenges in the country. The NEC meeting, which is the first since the party won the 2015 presidential election is aimed at bringing all the interest groups together so as to amicably resolve the lingering crisis. It would be recalled that the leadership crisis in the National Assembly reached a climax on June 25, when the House erupted into fracas over attempt by Speaker, Dogara to close plenary without reading a letter from the (APC). The letter was believed to have recommended Gbajabiamila (Lagos) as House Leader, Ado Doguwa (Kano) as Deputy Leader, Mohammed Monguno (Borno) as Whip, and Pally Iriase (Edo) as Deputy Whip.
Recently, the National chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, enjoined party members to ensure amicable resolution of the internal conflict. Speaking with newsmen, at the party’s national secretariat on the party’s reconciliation efforts, the chairman declared, “For me, I think that there is no other way to resolve the conflict other than for all of us to accept compromise. Each one of us will lose face and that is the only way forward.”
In a related development, Hon. Mark Gbilah, has stated that forcing the Speaker, to read a letter sent to him by the National Chairman of the party, Chief Oyegun, on the floor of the house was illegal. Mark, who is an APC member from Benue, argued that it was against the House rules for the Speaker to do, especially as the letter was written to the Speaker and not Members of the House.
Analysing the sights and sounds from the melee at the House, one Lawmaker holding a placard reading “Nigerians ‘voted for’ party. Party is supreme,” one would wonder how he knew that the House plenary would descend into chaos that he already had a protest placard prepared. This would lend credence to the statement by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which said that the APC Lawmakers were acting President Buhari’s script.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, who signed the statement, said that the PDP were not surprised by the dishonorable conduct from the unruly APC lawmakers as they were simply acting out a script, pointing out that besides the APC lawmakers were bred and nurtured under a political platform that lacks discipline and thrives on violence as an unwritten manifesto.
His words, “Party is Supreme” slogan held up by the APC legislators beg the question if the APC has been given the constitutional rights to dictate to a constitutionally elected body. What then happens to Nigerians who didn’t vote for the APC, about 12 million of them? Are they not included in the scheme of things?
“The APC it seems has not learnt its lesson yet from all the crises that led to Senator Saraki’s emergence as Senate President and Dogara as Speaker. Many analysts have opined that if left unchecked, these crises may be the beginning of the end for the APC. Nigerians are watching and waiting to see how the APC resolves its crisis.