All may not have been heard on the raging leadership crisis in the National Assembly especially the lower chamber, the House of Representatives were Hon. Yakubu Dogara and Femi Gbajabiamila groups are fighting over the headship of the green chamber.
On 9th June 2015, the House in a keenly contested election voted Dogara Speaker against the All Progressives Congress, APC’s choice of Gbajabiamila. Following its failure to capture the exalted office, the party chairman Chief John Odigie-Oyegun wrote a letter to the Speaker nominating Gbajabiamila as House Leader alongside other nominees of the party. Again, the members led by Dogara rejected the party position leading to fight for all at the chamber and subsequent adjournment to July 21, 2015.
However, in a move to reconcile the warring parties, the Party and President Muhammadu Buhari set up a committee with former House Speaker and now Sokoto Governor, Aminu Tambuwal as chairman. But feelers from the meetings held so far indicate that peace and reconciliation are still far as the factional groups have refused to shift ground on how principal offices in the House should be shared.
The stalemate in the discussions to reconcile the two sides means members would have to conduct caucus elections to elect the majority leader, deputy majority leader, chief whip and deputy whip of the House.
The Gbajabiamila-led group insists any considerations outside the recommendation of the APC’s leadership on the sharing of the seats would not be entertained by its members.
The party in a letter to the speaker said that the South-West should produce the Majority Leader; North-West, Deputy Leader; North-East, Chief Whip; and South-South, Deputy Whip.
“That is where we stand; there is no other suggestion or purported agreement that is acceptable to us. We have made this point clear enough many times,” the Gbajabiamila group said.
On its part, spokesman for the 8th Assembly Consolidation Group loyal to Speaker Dogara, Abdulmumin Jibrin, said the group had been magnanimous in conceding all four positions to Gbajabiamila’s.
He noted that it was only fair that the group should consider the interest of other zones besides the South-West and the North-East, in sharing the seats.
“In the election of the House principal officers, every geo-political zone of Nigeria deserves to be represented and it is embarrassing for some members of the House to dismiss the issue of equitable representation as ‘hogwash,’” he added.
But beyond all these is the revelation of double dealings by Gov. Tambuwal who is leading the reconciliation committee. While on the one hand Tambuwal is presenting himself as someone who would use his experience and political clout to resolve the lingering crisis in the House of Representatives, unknown to many, the immediate past Speaker and incumbent Sokoto State Governor had prior to his exit from the House on May 28th 2015 tipped Hon. Yakubu Dogara to succeed him in place of Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila who were both members of his inner circle.
The decision according an impeccable source was to preserve northern interest in the party’s power game and checkmate the alleged growing dominance of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s backed South West in the All Progressives Congress-APC.
Governor Tambuwal’s double deal was said to have been blown open when he visited APC leader and former Lagos State governor Sen. Bola Tinubu in his Asokoro residence in Abuja after the election of Dogara as Speaker .
Those in the know say that Tambuwal was delighted with the outcome of the election, which he sees as supremacy battle between his group [North] and Tinubu’s South-West.
However, an online Medium THE WILL based in San Francisco on June 8 published a report of what transpired between the two in Tinubu’s asokoro residence. It quoted Tinubu to have angrily fired at Tambuwal thus: “with what you did to Femi in the House, you have severed the umbilical cord joining you with the South-West.” Not done yet, Tinubu fired another salvo “ If what you people did in the House was in anticipation of 2019 it is too early. You should allow this government to succeed”.
It was revealed that Tinubu went down the memory lane to remind the Sokoto State Governor how Gbajabiamila helped him to emerge as House Speaker in 2011. Before the South West votes were swayed in Tambuwal’s favour, it was learnt that Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa had started mobilizing members for former House Leader, Hon. Mulikat Adeola –Akande until Femi Gbajabiamila through the blessing of Tinubu changed the game plan which eventually saw Tambuwal emerging victorious. But before backing Tambuwal, Tinubu was said to have sought from Femi Gbajabiamila whether Tambuwal would be trusted or not, which he (Gbajabiamila) answered in the affirmative. According to the group, the man they trusted has now betrayed them.
Not only that, Tinubu was alleged to have forced Tambuwal on former Governor Aliyu Wamakko as successor over Wamako’s preferred candidate. Another ‘sin’ of Tambuwal was the allegation that he was instrumental to luring Governor Abdulazeez Yari of Zamfara State in making lawmakers from the state to vote against Gbajabiamila during the speakership
It was further revealed that Tinubu indeed purchased the N21 million APC nomination form for Tambuwal to run for the party’s presidency if Buhari should decide to step down. An insider disclosed that it was at the peak of this intrigue that Tambuwal finally defected into APC and was later rewarded with the governorship ticket.
After, what looked like an unwelcome speech, Tambuwal was said to have
stormed out of Tinubu’s house with the following words: “ Your Excellency, it appears this is not a good time to come and see you. I’ll come back some other time.”
However, to mend fences with the party, Tambuwal allegedly visited President Buhari and requested to be allowed to settle the rift between Dogara and Gbajabiamila’s groups, a request which the President approved by appointing Tambuwal’s Chairman of the NASS crisis reconciliation committee. Notwithstanding his roles in the on-going crisis in the party and the anger of Tinubu against him, Tambuwal is said not to be in a hurry to lose the support of the South-West zone as he believes he needs the zone’s support for his 2019 rumoured presidential ambition.