After the bustle and hustle that came with the 2015 general elections, one expects that the time for our legislators to settle down for the real business of lawmaking and proper oversight of the executive arm of government is now. But ironically, the lawmakers, especially in the lower chamber, are more interested with what they can get rather than what they can offer the nation.
Obviously, the National Assembly is the worst hit in the current leadership crisis in the All Progressives Congress, APC. In the 8th National Assembly, both chambers had only sat for about six days before they adjourned plenary on June 25, 2015 to July 21, 2015.
The latest now is that the National Assembly has further shifted its resumption date to July 28. Although, no reason was given by the sudden postponement, inside sources said the leadership crisis in the National Assembly as well as the Eid-el-fitr celebration must have prompted the one week extension.
In a message, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, Sani-Omolori, recently announced that the House will now resume plenary on July 28 and advised all the lawmakers to take note of the new resumption date.
Of course, these frequent and needless adjournments are detrimental to any serious legislative business. This development does not only portray the country in a bad light, but also as a people who are not desirous for change. The last adjournment in the House was basically to resolve all grey areas as regards the positions of principal officers. But lo and behold, the expected compromise has not been reach by both factions.
Nevertheless, the fight that broke out on the floor of the House on June 25 because of the seeming disagreement on the sharing of principal officers is yet to settle down almost one month after. The two camps – Yakubu Dogara group and Femi Gbajabiamilla camp are still at loggerheads over which zone gets what.
Perhaps, this was why the ruling party set up a peace committee chaired by former Speaker and now governor of Sokoto state, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, to look into the matter with a view to resolving all contentious issues. Sadly, the committee has not been able to achieve the desired result as both camps have refused to capitulate or shift grounds.
While the pro-Dogara lawmakers said the principal positions should go round the six geo-political zones, the Femi Gbajabiamila loyalists insisted that the positions should be shared according to the party’s directive. Even after the Dogara’s camp later agreed to concede the House Majority leader to Gbaja’s group on condition that the person must not come from the South-West or North-East, the Gbaja’s camp has not changed its position.
In a letter dated June 23, the party, through its national chairman, had proposed that the South-West should produce the Majority Leader, while the North-East should produce the Deputy Whip. This proposal by the party did not go down well with the pro-Dogara group and other PDP lawmakers, who argued that since the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yussuf Lasun is from the South-West, the Majority Leader should come from another zone. They went further to say that all the six geo-political zones must be represented in sharing of the principal offices.
In his reply to Odigie-Oyegun’s letter on July 16, Dogara instead zoned the Majority House Leader to the North-West geo-political zone. He explained that the zone has 86 APC lawmakers.
He also proposed that the post of the Deputy House Leader to the North-Central with 33 members, the position of the Chief Whip to the South-South, while he proposed that the Deputy Whip should come from 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. Dogara used the same explanation for zoning the Deputy Whip to South-East, instead of North-East proposed by the party. He pointed out that he could not take action on Odigie-Oyegun’s letter immediately or reply him because he was constrained by a court process served on him by some lawmakers from the North-Central and other interested parties. He added that this was the reason he wanted to call for a close-door session to brief members on the development on June 25, but that his action were misinterpreted, thus leading to a fracas on the floor of the House.
According to him, “Since then, efforts have been made by the party, progressive governors and other interested persons to intervene and resolve the issues. We want to place on record, our unflinching loyalty and respect not only to you as an individual, considering your antecedents, but also to the party, APC, under whose platform we were elected to the House.
“We have no intention whatsoever of disobeying your directives or the party’s position on any matter. We would, of course, prefer a situation where we are consulted on matters concerning the House before directives are issued and made public.
“We feel strongly that the issue of federal character in the election or appointment of principal officers of the House is a cardinal legal, moral and constitutional principle that should be respected by our party. It is however obvious from the letter under reference that this principle was not taken into consideration.”
The current leadership crisis in the APC has slowed down the legislature. The 8th National Assembly was inaugurated precisely on June 9 and since then, no meaningful thing has been achieved in terms of quality lawmaking and effective oversight. Instead, what we have seen so far is bickering and fighting for positions.
In view of this, it is only natural that Nigerians and indeed the rest of the world would be disappointed in the ruling party to have started its change mantra on a wrong footing.
No doubt, lawmaking is an integral part of any progressive society. At the moment, this seems to have taken the back seat in Nigeria as the lawmakers are only interested in what they can get instead of focusing on core legislative business they were elected to do.
Mindful of the lost time, this is why both warring camps in the House should bury their hatchet and come together in the spirit of resolving the matter amicably. In all this, they should always put the country first bearing in mind that if there is no Nigeria, there will certainly be nothing to fight for.
As a party, it is worrisome and disturbing that the APC has not been able to tackle the crisis headlong. Political analysts are of the view that the internal wrangling and bickering among the leaders of the party has also contributed to the lingering crisis. It is obvious that for the party to deliver on its promises to Nigerians, it must first overcome its teething problems. Of course, only then will they be taken seriously.
Therefore, as the National Assembly finally resumes on July 28, the legislators should quickly get down to business and support the federal government in combating corruption, reviving the economy and fighting terrorism currently stifling the country’s growth in all fronts. It is high time the legislators played their part in fixing Nigeria’s economy currently in a complete mess.

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