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 tomorrow may be disrupted by the Femi Gbajiamila’s group against the wish of the Speaker Hon Yakubu Dogara to share the positions according to federal character and geo-political zonal sharing formula. Meanwhile members of the House loyal to Speaker Dogara over the weekend 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 group immediately punctured the claim, saying no agreement has been reached, and that the so-called Dogara formula remained unacceptable to their camp. The Gbajabiamila group may have found its voice following the support that the Southwest governors drummed up for the former Minority leader at a weekend meeting. The meeting which was presided over by Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu agreed to make Deputy Speaker resign for Gbajabiamila. After the meeting, Osun State governor Rauf Aregbesola was detailed to pressure Deputy Speaker Hon Yusuff Lasun to step down for Gbajabiamila.
Lasun reportedly refused, stating that he was elected and not appointed and that, ironically, Gbajabiamila was once offered the position during the election at the floor of the House, which he rejected. In jest, he was said to have asked Aregbesola to resign his position for him to occupy, if he was so serious about getting an elected official of the House of Representatives to resign for another who contested for the Speakership but failed. Going forward, Gbajabiamila was said to have met with President Buhari at the weekend with the intention of asking Buhari to compel the Speaker to comply with the party directive on the appointment of principal officers.
The President was said to have maintained his earlier position not to intervene in the activities of the second tier of governance to prevent been accused of interference. 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. Gabajabiamila 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”.
“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. His words “We have commenced collection of signatures which has reached advanced stage to affirm the Dogara formula”.
He also said all other interests, including those excluded from the principal officers, specifically Messrs Gbajabiamila and Mongunu, would be duly accommodated with “commensurate responsibility to serve”. Since the Speaker has about 200 positions to share out, many members will have the opportunity to serve the country, the lawmaker said.
“In the light of this development, it is heartwarming to announce to you that the disagreement in the House, which many have erroneously labelled as crisis, has finally come to an end,” he 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”.
The House of Representatives has remained stuck in crisis since its inauguration in early June over the appointment of other principal officers after Mr. Dogara emerged speaker against the wish of the leadership of the APC. Several efforts have been made to find solution to the crisis and a couple of proposals were advanced. 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”.
-As the House of Representatives resumes to morrow, there are strong indications that the Gbajabiamila group is poised for a showdown with Speaker Dogara over appointment of principal officers according to party directive, reports Francis Moses