lSays federal character doesn’t concern N/Assembly
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—There appears to be no end to the leadership crisis in the House of Representatives, as the Femi Gbajabiamila group has faulted the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara over his claim that federal character involves selection of principal officers in the National Assembly.
The Gbajabiamila camp known as the Loyalists Group specifically told the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief John Odegie-Oyegun to ignore the Speaker’s reply to the directives of the APC leadership where he (the Speaker) claimed that the House has the tradition of respecting the spirit of federal character in the distribution of principal officers positions.
The group in the letter to the APC Chairman, yesterday, signed by Hon. Nasiru Sani Zangon-Daura, alleged that Dogara’s reply to Oyegun’s directives was fraught with fundamental flaws and that going by the House Standing Rules, the South East that had only two APC members who are first time members were not qualified to occupy any principal officers positions.
The letter read in part: “Our attention has been drawn to the letter written to you by the Speaker Hon. Yakubu Dogara in response to your letter to him almost a month prior. We find Hon. Dogara’s letter fraught with several fundamental flaws in his analysis and interpretation of the Constitution and House rules. This is to set the records straight.
“We stand on our earlier position that whilst we accept and agree with the principle of Federal Character, the Constitutional provisions in that regard are strictly in reference to the appointment to the Federal Executive and its agencies.
“The principle of Federal Character is not intended to be given such elasticity to the extent that it would extend to the running and internal workings of the House which is not a government agency and whose members are not appointed but elected.
“Assuming Federal Character was meant to be applicable to the National Assembly, then certainly one of the Houses of the National Assembly must be headed by a Southerner.
“Remember, sir, that in the run-up to the election of the Senate President and Speaker, our party made a deliberate choice, to apply this same principle of Federal Character such that all qualified zones will be represented in the spirit of national unity, which we embrace, but we all know how that ended.
“Furthermore to accept the Speaker’s arrangement would mean the two most powerful positions in the Senate and House after the presiding officers would be occupied by the North.
“Whilst we maintain that our party’s mantra of ‘Change’ for the growth and development of our dear nation requires that merit should not be sacrificed on the altar of zoning, we have painstakingly ensured that in the selection of our leaders in the House, all zones are represented, except the South East, which unfortunately, are currently excluded from holding leadership positions because the House Rules disqualifies ‘inexperienced’ members from holding leadership position.
“Unfortunately, all our party members from the South East are first term legislators. The South East can be adequately compensated through other means without violating our rule on appointment of principal officers.
“Hon. Dogara, in paragraph 7 of his letter quotes the provision of section 147 of the constitution which specifically requires that the President in appointing Ministers, shall observe the Federal Character principle as provided in section 14.
“He has inadvertently made our point that Federal Character is applicable only to the executive and its agencies. If the framers of our constitution had intended same to apply to the running of the legislature Houses, similar provisions which mandated the president specifically, would have been included in the case of the National Assembly.”