Members of the House of Representatives loyal to the leadership of the All Progressives Congress have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to wade into the crisis rocking the National Assembly and the ruling party.
At their meeting with Mr. Buhari Wednesday night, the lawmakers presented an 11-point statement, in which they urged the president to save the integrity of the party by ensuring that the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, and his supporters, obey the directive of the party in respect of the election of principal officers of the House.
The statement was made available by the media office of Femi Gbajabiamila, who led the legislators to the presidential villa.
The ruling APC had dispatched a letter, last week, to Mr. Dogara, notifying the speaker of its nominees for the four principal offices due to the party. The decision came after Mr. Dogara had defied the party to contest and win the speakership election.
Mr. Dogara did not only refuse to read the letter — leading to last Thursday’s fracas in the House — he also made it clear he will not abide by the party’s decision, citing Federal Character violation.
At their meeting with President Buhari, the Gbajabiamila-led group affirmed their loyalty to the party, but asked the president whatwould be their reward for obeying the party.
APC wants Mr. Gbajabiamila, who hails from South West as the Deputy Speaker, Yusuf Lasun, to become Majority Leader.
Reacting to the Federal Character principle cited by Mr. Dogara as ground for disregarding the party’s directive, the party’s loyalists told the president that, “Federal Character principle as embedded in chapter of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is not justiciable and of no legal consequence”.
They argued that the provision in Section 14 of the Constitution is only applicable to appointments in Federal Ministries and Agencies, and that 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.
They also gave instances in the 6th and 7th Assembly when more than one principal office of the first seven top positions, went to a particular zone.
In the 7th Assembly for instance, they argued that the positions of Vice President, Speaker, Minority Leader and Deputy Minority leader were taken by the North West zone.
They accused Mr. Dogara and his group of planning to ridicule, divide and destabilise APC and Buhari’s Government and ultimately decamp to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
“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,” the lawmakers said.
“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.”
“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,” the pro-APC lawmakers told Mr. Buhari.
A competent source, who was at the meeting, told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr. Buhari pledged to stand by the party.
“What the president is doing is to hear from both sides. You know he met the Dogara group earlier. He wants to know arguments of the two sides, so as to make an informed decision at the NEC meeting tomorrow. But he promised yesterday to stand by the party,” the source said.