22 Jul 2015

NASS Crisis: Speaker Dogara’s group insists on zoning principal offices

No truce yet in sight in the leadership crisis plaguing the House of Representatives over the zoning of principal officers, as members loyal to the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, known as “Consolidation Group”, yesterday insisted on the Speaker’s power sharing proposal.

However, to press home their demands, some party position loyalists in the House have filed a suit at an Abuja High Court for an order restraining Dogara from announcing the principal officers of the lower chamber but to compel his adherence to the party’s sharing dictates.

Meanwhile, a former President of the Senate, Ken Nnamani, yesterday urged the APC to thread carefully in matters relating to the National Assembly and not jeopardise the delivery of good governance, which he noted Nigerians highly demand at the moment.

Speaking on party supremacy and the election of National Assembly leaders, he said the party ought to have instilled discipline in its members before they were elected, adding that legislators are only loyal to Nigeria, the constitution and the National Assembly immediately they are elected, while party loyalty becomes informal and secondary.

The proposal had ceded the House Majority Leader to the North West, Deputy House Leader to the North Central, Chief Whip to the South-South and Deputy Chief Whip to the South East, excluding the North-East and South-West because they have the Speaker and Deputy Speaker positions.
In a statement yesterday by Abdulmumin Jibrin, the group maintained: “We unequivocally support the Dogara formula in the distribution of principal offices in the House of Representatives. This proposal is in tandem with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the spirit of Federal Character and the need for equity, fairness and justice.

“For the benefit of enlightenment, it is important to state that in terms of the leadership status of these vacant positions, the House Leader is the most senior, followed by the Chief Whip. In the spirit of reconciliation and unity, Speaker Dogara has graciously conceded the positions of House Leader and Chief Whip to the Femi Gbajabiamila group.

“Consequently, the Consolidation Group has decided to adopt Alhassan Ado Doguwa (North West) as House Leader, Buba Jibrin (North Central) as Deputy House Leader, Pally Iriase (South-South) as Chief Whip and Chika Okafor (South East) as Deputy Chief Whip.

“We therefore call on our supporters to intensify lobbying at the zonal caucuses to ensure that these members emerge to assume the positions. Kindly note that Alhassan Doguwa is head of the Gbajabiamila Group while Pally Iriase was in the speakership race but stepped down for Gbajabiamila and assumed a very prominent role in his group.”
The group further called on the party to disregard the letter purportedly written by the Gbajabiamila group, “which we know contemptuously emanated from the duo of Gbajabiamila and Falake without due consultation with the APC caucus in the House, many of whom are in full support of Dogara, his peace efforts and proposal for distribution of the remaining principal officers.”

Similarly, the South East caucus of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the House yesterday disassociated members from the Gbajabiamila group and pledged support to Dogara and his proposal on the issue.

Signed by Austin Chukwukere (APC Imo), their stamen flayed the Loyalist Group’s statement as “full of distortions, deliberate mischief, exhibition of ignorance of the law, practices and precedents of the House, and in some instances outright falsehood.”

They frowned at the claim that South East APC members are not qualified to hold principal offices on the basis of the House Standing Rules.

Nnamani told journalists in Abuja that in practical terms, the National ‎Assembly is not the secretariat of any political party but an arm of government responsible for lawmaking for good governance.

Credit: Nigerian Guardian

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