The crisis in the House of Representatives that has persisted despite several interventions and consultations by leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC seems to be over. In this piece, DOZIE EMMANUEL looks at the position of the two factions in the crisis before peace was brokered and need for the House to now settle for the business of legislation.
Nigerians and indeed members of the 8th House of Representatives have heaved a sigh of relief with the seeming end to the crisis that has since inception rocked the National Assembly especially the House of Representatives.
At the resumption of the House on Tuesday, the speaker announced Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, House Leader; Hon. Buba Jubrin, Deputy Leader; Hon. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, Chief Whip; Hon. Pally Iriase, Deputy Chief Whip. Also, he announced Hon. Leo Ogor, Minority Leader; Hon. Chukwuma Chukwuka, Deputy Minority Leader; Umar Badre and Hon. Binta Bello, Deputy Minority Whip.
Reacting to the long drawn battle, House Ad hoc Committee Chairman on Media and Public Affairs, Hon Sani Zorro described the resolution as “triumph of the internal democracy.
“You are all witnesses to the eventful plenary session today upon the resumption of the House of Representatives. You can also remember that when we were going on recess and there were some disturbances in the House of Representatives, we made it clear that the problems we were going through were merely transitional in nature and we have been proved right.
“We members of the House of Representatives will be of good behaviour henceforth. There will be no cause for rancor, not to talk of the kind of disturbances that we witnessed the other day. We want to use this opportunity to thank Mr. President for a 20 minute meeting. It was very crucial. What Mr. President did was a fatherly engagement; what he did has clearly shown that he is not the so called dictator that our opponents wanted to paint him as.”
The man because of whom the House has been in turmoil, Femi Gbajabiamila said it was democracy in action.
“What you saw in the last 49 days was actually democracy in action. That is what politics is all about; everybody is trying to outwit everybody for the greater good of the country. I am glad that everything has panned out the way it has panned out.
“You will now see the House you knew in the last four years back in action; working for the people, working for the nation,” Gbajabiamila stated.
Before the end to the stalemate, a peace meeting was called by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Banquet Hall of the Aso Rock villa where the president met with the APC’s Reps caucus and top party leaders. In the meeting that was said to have lasted for barely 30 minutes, the president was understood to have given them marching orders to go and resolve the leadership crisis.
The national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun with other party leaders led the feuding factions to another meeting, which lasted till the early hours of Tuesday morning. It was learnt that after such marathon meeting, truce was reached.
The emergence of Gbajabiamila is in keeping with the position of the party after it failed to make him the speaker of the House. The ding dong affair lasted for too long due to the refusal of the Dogara’s camp to accede to the letter written by the leadership of the APC. The party had written a letter where it instructed the leadership of the House on how to share the remaining four principal positions. According to the party’s letter, it presented, Femi Gbajabiamila (South-West) as the House Leader; Ado Doguwa (North-West) as deputy leader; Mohammed Monguno (North-East) as chief whip; and Pally Iriase as deputy chief whip.
In defiance of the party’s stance, Dogara replied arguing that the principal of Federal Character tied his hands in respecting the party’s directive. “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.
“Indeed, we expect that our great party, the APC, will ensure that “there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or sectional groups in (the) government or in any of its agencies.”
“Consequently we propose the following zoning arrangement for the distribution of principal offices in the House of Representatives.
Speaker: Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara – North East
Deputy Speaker: Rt. Hon. Yusuf Sulaimon Lasun – South West
House Leader: North West (with 86 APC members)
Deputy House Leader: North Central (with 33 APC members)
Chief Whip: South South
Deputy Chief Whip: South East,” Dogara wrote.
This further exacerbated the already tensed situation as the Gbajabiamila camp fired back, insisting that the party’s wishes be respected.
“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.
“The Constitution is to be read as a whole. To this end, the provisions of section 42 of the constitution is very relevant as it strengthens the argument that Federal Character is only applicable to appointments in the executive and not to legislative elective offices,” Gbajabiamila’s group replied.
However, with pressures from all quarters especially with the last minute intervention by the President, the Dogara camp caved in and allowed the wishes of the party to prevail, but not in absolute totality. Whereas the party had wanted Mohammed Monguno (North-East) to be the chief whip, it did not have it its way as Ado Doguwa from North West emerged the chief whip.
Now that the wishes of the party have been partially fulfilled and the ambition of Gbajabiamila met, Nigerians expect nothing but their primary duty of legislation.