All Progressives Congress, APC lawmakers in the House of Representatives have rejected the proposal by the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara that the North-West and North-Central should produce the House Majority Leader and Deputy Majority Leader, respectively.
Nigerian Pilot recalls that on July 16, Dogara replied Odigie-Oyegun’s letter dated June 23 where he argued that he could not take action on the Odigie-Oyegun’s letter immediately because he was constrained by a court process served on him by some lawmakers from the North-Central and other interested parties.
In his letter, Odigie-Oyegun had zoned the House Majority Leader to the South-West.
In his reply, the Speaker instead zoned the position to the North-West geopolitical zone, stressing that the zone has 86 APC lawmakers.
He also proposed to zone the post of the Deputy House Leader to the North-Central with 33 members; Chief Whip to the South-South and Deputy Whip to the South-East.
He added that it would not be fair to give the same zone the position of the House leader while some zones had nothing.
Reacting on the Speaker’s letter to the party, the APC lawmakers said Dogara’s analysis and interpretation of the constitution and House rules was fraught with several fundamental flaws.
In a letter addressed to the party’s national chairman dated July 18, the APC loyalists’ group said they still maintained their earlier position that whilst they agree with the principle of federal character, the constitutional provisions in that regard are strictly in reference to the appointment to the federal executive and its agencies.
The letter, which was copied to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Governor Rochas Okorocha, Chairman, Progressive Governors’ Forum and Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Progressive Governors’ Forum Mediator, argued that the principle of federal character was not intended to be given such elasticity to the extent that it would extend to the running and internal workings of the House.
Spokesman of the group, Hon. Nasiru Sani Zangon-Daura, gave an instance that assuming federal character was meant to be applicable to the National Assembly, then one of the Houses of the National Assembly must be headed by a Southerner.
He reiterated that in the run-up to the election of the Senate President and Speaker, the party made a deliberate choice to apply this same principle of federal character such that all qualified zones would be represented in the spirit of national unity, but regretted that it was jettisoned.
According to him, “Whilst we maintain that our party’s mantra of ‘change’ for the growth and development of our dear nation requires that merit should not be sacrificed on the altar of zoning, we have painstakingly ensured that in the selection of our leaders in the House, all zones are represented, except the South East, which unfortunately, are currently excluded from holding leadership positions because the House Rules disqualifies ‘inexperienced’ members from holding leadership position.
“Unfortunately, all our party members from the South East are first term legislators. The South-East can be adequately compensated through other means without violating our rule on appointment of principal officers.
“Hon. Dogara, in paragraph 7 of his letter quotes the provision of section 147 of the constitution which specifically requires that the president in appointing ministers shall observe the federal character principle as provided in section 14.
“He has inadvertently made our point that federal character is applicable only to the executive and its agencies. If the framers of our constitution had intended same to apply to the running of the legislature, similar provisions which mandated the president specifically, would have been included in the case of the National Assembly.
“This is how laws are interpreted and all lawyers know this, including the Speaker. This legal principle of interpretation is known as the “exclusion unis “rule of interpretation.
“Again the Speaker referred to the Third Schedule Part 1c of the constitution which he quotes in part, leaving out vital provisions which would not support the position of zoning in the National Assembly.
“We encourage the party to read this provision closely, particularly section 8 which lists the bodies over, which the Federal Character Commission has jurisdiction.
“Hon Dogara in his letter wrote on issue of morality. It is on record and we hereby attach copies (Punch and Daily Trust) of the press conference granted by Hon. Dogara sometime in May when it became apparent that the party intended to zone the Speakership to the South West and Senate President to the North East. Hon. Dogara rejected the idea of zoning at that time insisting that zoning did not matter, which is why he went against our party’s recommendation, and contested for Speaker.
“Right now, the Senate President and the Speaker are both from the North. We find it highly immoral, disingenuous, insincere and downright hypocritical, that someone who rejected and was anti zoning will now be the person waiving the zoning card when it serves his purpose. We cannot pick and choose or flip-flop on the application of zoning based on our whims and caprices and he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.”

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