By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA — CHIEF Whip of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, has denied nursing any ambition to unseat the incumbent Majority Leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Doguwa has also denied any knowledge of a secret meeting where he was pressurised by the loyalists of the speaker, Yakubu Dogara, to warm up to take the office of majority leader.
Recall that before the election of presiding officers of the 8th Assembly, Doguwa, who was then in the same political platform with Gbajabiamila, had campaigned to be the majority leader while Gbajabiamila was positioned by the All Progressives Congress, APC, leadership to become the speaker but lost to Dogara.
Speculation of the alleged plot to remove Gbajabiamila by Dogara loyalists heightened as a result of the absence of the majority leader during the special session for the inauguration of the 96 chairmen and deputy chairmen of the Standing Committees on Monday.
Speaking against the background of claims in some quarters that he (Doguwa) was being positioned by the speaker’s supporters to replace the embattled majority leader, the Chief Whip said the allegation was the figment of imagination of those peddling it.
Explaining the reason behind the impromptu meeting of the APC caucus which he allegedly summoned recently and the fracas between Dogara’s supporters and those of Gbajabiamila, he said: “Members were fed up. It was as a result of that action that it happened.
“Officially, as a member of the House and as the Chief Whip, I have no interest in Gbajabiamila’s position. There was no such plans. But you cannot stop such a speculation when you continue to create an unnecessary vacuum.
“Nobody has approached me officially to ask me of my intentions to fill Gbajabiamila’s position. The House Leader is my good friend and we have always remained so.
“Naturally, you cannot stop speculations. These are things you cannot take away from a parliament. I also heard of the same speculations that I was being pencilled down to take over from Gbajabiamila as leader of the House.
“When you create a vacuum, these are the kinds of things that happen. There was no reason why Gbajabiamila should absent himself from the special session where committee chairmen were inaugurated.”
He also advised the majority leader to work in harmony with the Speaker having lost the position which he had contested for despite being the preferred candidate of the APC.
He said: “It does not matter what anybody says outside the National Assembly as long as we continue to operate under a peaceful atmosphere. The APC, as a party, wanted to field a candidate as Speaker which has always been the tradition. At that earlier stage, we stood by the party’s position.”