Formally concedes Leader, Chief Whip to the group
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
ABUJA—Speaker Yakubu Dogara of the House of Representatives yesterday formally conceded the position of House Leader and Chief Whip of the House to the Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila-led group.
In a formal response to the directive of the national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun directing the speaker to allocate the four principal offices of the party to members of the Gbajabiamila group, Speaker Dogara, however, ruled Gbajabiamila out of contention for any of the four offices.
Speaker Dogara in the letter dated July 16, 2015 insisted that allocation of the four offices must reflect the principle of federal character as had been the practise since 1999. He said that appointing Gbajabiamilia and Mohammed Moguno as House Leader and Chief Whip as demanded by the party would mean that the Northeast and Southeast would for the first time not be represented in the ruling party’s pack of principal officers.
The letter from the speaker follows the directive from the party directing that Gbajabiamila who lost out in the contest for speaker be appointed as House Leader.
While indicating his readiness to offer the position to the Gbajabiamila camp for the sake of peace, Speaker Dogara nevertheless insisted that the House Leaders should be produced by the Northwest given the fact that the Southwest where Gbajabiamila comes from already produced the Deputy Speaker.
The speaker’s letter also copied to President Muhammadu Buhari, Governors Aminu Tambuwal and Rochas Okorocha among others read in part:
“This is to formally acknowledge receipt of your letter Ref. No. APC/NHDQ/NAM/01/015/06 dated 23rd June, 2015.
“After the letter was received but before I could make the necessary consultations concerning the letter because of its sensitive nature, I was served with Court processes on the subject matter filed by some Members of the House and other persons and groups from the North Central and South East Zones of Nigeria. The Rules of the House enjoin us to make a determination whether discussing a matter pending in Court in the House would be prejudicial to the Case.
“However, before this determination could be made, on June 25, 2015, I took steps to discuss the matter in an Executive Session of the House which is open to only House Members and not the public. We were prevented from doing so by some House members who conducted themselves in a most unparliamentary manner. It is necessary to point out that the mechanism of Executive Session is resorted to in order to iron out controversial matters in an amicable way to preserve the unity and cohesion of the House.
*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, u` nder 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. If the letter is enforced the way it was conveyed, it will lead to the following unjust result:
Deputy House Leader:
Deputy Chief Whip:
“This will totally and unfairly exclude the South East and North Central Zones in the distribution of these political offices and lead to undue concentration of some offices in the South West and North East Zones of Nigeria.
“The House Rules provide that in filling the positions of Majority leadership of the House, namely, leader of the House, Chief Whip, Deputy Leader, Deputy Whip of the House, each candidate; “shall be a member nominated from among the members in the majority party in the House.”
Furthermore, Order 1, of the House Rules provides that: “In all cases not provided for hereinafter or by sessional or other orders, Precedents or practices of the House, the House shall by Resolution regulate its procedure
“It is evident that there are existing Precedents and Practices which the House has been following for a long time and in particular since 1999. Since 1999, Zonal Caucuses of a Party have been primarily responsible for nominating Principal Officers of the House, other than the Speaker and Deputy Speaker that are elected by the entire House.
“The issue of Federal character has very strong constitutional foundations. They are indeed mandatory provisions of the Constitution. For ease of reference, let us examine the following provisions: a. S. 14(3)
“The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.
“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 Sir, 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.