Party leaders pick Gbajabiamila for speaker
Dogara rejects mock election
The rumble in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, over the leadership of the House of Representatives and the Senate deepened yesterday as some elected members of the National Assembly rejected the mock election conducted by the party leaders in Abuja.
APC has been in dilemma in the past few weeks over how to pick the leadership of the National Assembly as two opposing camps emerged in each of the two chambers of the legislature.
Various meetings conducted by the national leaders of the party ended in deadlock, which forced the leaders of the party to conduct the mock election ahead of Tuesday inauguration of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Indications that the mock election will hit the rock emerged early yesterday when the teeming supporters of Hon. Yakubu Dogara stormed out of the International Conference centre where the mock election took place.
In spite of the walkout, the party leaders went ahead with the mock election and announced the member representing Surulere Federal Constituency, Lagos, in the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, as the winner.
Gbajabiamila was said to have scored 154 votes, while his challenger, Yakubu Dogara, who stormed out of the venue of the election before voting commenced, scored 3 votes.
Four votes were declared invalid by the returning officer, the national vice chairman, North East, Babachir Lawan.
Tahir Monguno was also elected as candidate for Deputy Speaker. He scored 153 votes. One hundred and eighty three members attended the election, 161 voted.
Shortly after the outcome of the mock election was announced, Hon Dogara issued a press statement rejecting the exercise and stressed that it was unconstitutional for the party to organise a mock election before the main election.
Dogara and his supporters known as the eighth Assembly Consolidation Group said the election was against the position taken by President Muhammadu Buhari on the process of electing new leaders for the national assembly.
They insisted that the real election for Speaker would hold on Tuesday inside the chamber of the national assembly.
The statement reads: “We in the 8th Assembly Consolidation Group of Hon. Yakubu Dogara wish to state our position on the event of today Saturday, June 6, 2015 as follows:
“That we got invitation for a meeting summoned by the APC leadership
“That we went to the meeting with the expectation the party wanted to give us last word ahead of Tuesday’s inauguration of the House.
“However, we began to notice some moves in the hall where members supporting Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila started campaigning and soon we saw ballot papers being moved in the hall.
“The National Chairman of the party, Chief John Oyegun informed us that they were going to conduct a mock, straw or primary election.
“The 8th Assembly Consolidation Group mandated Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin to speak on our behalf.
“First, we read out the statement issued by our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari on the election of National Assembly leadership when he said: “It doesn’t matter who the person is, where he or she comes from. There is due process for selection of leaders of National Assembly and I will not interfere in that process. Nigeria has indeed entered a new dispensation. My administration does not intend to repeat the same mistakes made by previous governments.
“We then told Chief Oyegun that it is either he is disagreeing with the President, undermining his stance, or does not agree that the president is the leader of the party.
“Secondly, we informed the party that the remaining two aspirants in the race for the Speaker are of the APC since no PDP member is contesting for the position. We should therefore be allowed to sort it out among ourselves on Tuesday.
“Thirdly, if we were coming for election we ought to have been notified well ahead.
“We therefore view this as an ambush, manipulative and indicative of the fact that the party leadership came with a predetermined position which was skewed to favour Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.
“Fourthly, we also informed the APC leadership that the process they were about doing was contrary to the provisions of the party’s constitution which did not prescribe that a primary election be conducted for the Speakership, contrary to the provisions of the House Standing Orders and above all, contrary to the provisions of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The next Speaker of the House should be allowed to be elected in tandem with the constitution.
“Consequently, we demanded that the process be delayed with at least 24 hours to enable us to prepare and mobilise our members.
“After raising these objections, the national chairman, Chief Oyegun did not respond to any of the points raised.
“Initially, the chairman agreed to halt the process but one hour later the National Vice Chairman North, Senator Lawal Shuaibu came up and said the process must go on whether we like it or not.
“At this stage we had no option than to walkout of the hall and address the press.
“The election of the House Speaker is not an exclusivity of the APC but include all members from all political parties.
“Our position is that we are not a party to what they did and we maintain that the election of the Speaker of the House of Representatives cannot be conducted outside the chamber of the House and we are ready to participate in that process on Tuesday 9th June, 2015.”