President Muhammadu Buhari meets with Femi Gbajabiamila’s factional members of the House of Representatives in a bid to end the rift in the House
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, July 1, met with aggrieved members of the House of Representatives, led by Femi Gbajabiamila, former minority leader. The group appealed to President Buhari to caution Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the House and members of his group.
They accused the All Progressives Congress, APC, members in support of Dogara of allegedly colluding with the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to polarise the ruling party to give room for them to later defect to the PDP. This was one of the issues they raised when they met with President Buhari behind closed-doors at the Conference Hall of the First Lady’s Office inside the Presidential Villa.
Copies of their presentation to the President were made available to journalists at the end of the meeting also attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. The 30 lawmakers, who attended the meeting on behalf of their colleagues, said the President’s intervention was needed in order to save the party’s integrity.
They demanded that Dogara be asked to return to their fold and announce the other four principal officers’ positions in the House as directed by the party as it has always been the convention. “It is noteworthy that Mr. President and the governors had strongly put their weight behind the party and had severally admonished the House to abide by the party’s position.
“The 39 APC members in the House continue to collude with the PDP to flagrantly disobey Mr. President, the governors and the party with a view to bringing the party and government to ridicule before Nigerians. The conduct of the 39 APC members colluding with the PDP is tantamount to affront, ultimately targeted at polarising our party so as to give room for many of them to decamp to the PDP.
“It is therefore imperative for Mr. President to take a stand and save the integrity of the party by cautioning the 39 members, which include the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, to respect honour and obey our party Leaders and their directives. In conclusion, Mr. President, we as loyal party members shall continue to abide by the party constitution, respect and honour our party leaders and their directives.
“We strongly appeal to you to direct the Speaker to return to our fold and be truly elected Speaker on APC platform. He should be directed to announce the other four party principal officers positions as directed by the party as it has always been the convention. We sincerely appreciate Mr. President for the audience trusting in his ability to successfully mediate so as to save our great party, the APC, from further embarrassment,” they said.
The lawmakers said while Gbajabiamila and his group had openly congratulated Dogara and his deputy, the opposition and the 39 APC members continued to hold the APC leadership in contempt. They wondered what would be the reward of the 174 of them that have remained obedient and loyal to the party.
While noting that the Speaker’s group had cited the federal character principle as the reason why they will not honour the party’s directive on the choice of the remaining principal officers, the lawmakers said that the principle was not applicable to the National Assembly. “It should be noted that the Federal Character principle as embedded in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is not justifiable and of no legal consequence. Its provision in section 14 of the Constitution is only applicable to appointments in federal ministries and Agencies.
“The House of Representatives is not an agency of the Federal government and the principal officers’ positions are elective and not by appointment. If the Federal Character is applicable to the National Assembly, then both the Senate President and the Speaker cannot come from the North, one of them should be advised to step down,” they argued.
Gbajabiamila later told State House correspondents that he led the lawmakers who belong to the APC caucus to meet with the President in order to iron out the issues that had arisen since June 9, and find a way forward. He described the meeting as a very successful one, saying the APC caucus and the party would come out bigger, stronger and better for it.
— Jul 2, 2015 @ 15:00 GMT