A make or mar meeting between opposing factions of All Progressives Congress members in the House of Representatives, ended early Tuesday with the two sides adopting an earlier directive from the APC leadership on the zoning of key leadership positions.
The party had zoned the positions in a letter to the speaker, Yakubu Dogara, on June 23.
In the letter, the party presented Femi Gbajabiamila (South-West) as the house leader; Ado Doguwa (North-West) as deputy leader; Mohammed Monguno (North-East) as chief whip; and Pally Iriase (South South) as deputy chief whip.
The letter from the APC was in response to the lingering leadership crisis that has rocked the house since its inauguration June 9.
Mr. Dogara rejected the nominations, and suggested other candidates for the offices.
But at Monday’s meeting, at the behest of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Dogara faction and the APC leadership agreed the letter from the party be respected, several sources told PREMIUM TIMES.
However, the names nominated by the party will no longer stand, both sides agreed, lawmakers who attended the meeting said.
Instead, each zonal caucus will conduct elections to decide the winners of the slots based on the zoning formular conveyed in the party’s letter.
The agreement has broadened the chances of Mr. Gbajabiamila emerging the majority leader, a key demand that has been at the centre of the nearly two-month old crisis.
The adopted formular zoned House Leader position to the South West; Deputy House Leader – North West; Chief Whip – North East; Deputy House Whip – South South.
The zonal caucus elections are expected between Tuesday and Wednesday.
The house crisis started after the speaker, Yakubu Dogara, emerged speaker in defiance of the APC leadership’s decision to anoint Mr. Gbajabiamila for the position.
The party later adjusted its demand and nominated Mr. Gbajabiamila as the majority leader, a proposal Mr. Dogara again rejected. The speaker said Mr. Gbajabiamila’s south west region had produced the deputy speaker, Yusuf Lasun.
In his response, Mr. Dogara nominated members who supported Mr. Gbajabiamila as majority leader and chief whip, proposals rejected by Mr. Gbajabiamila, a former minority leader.
Mr. Buhari told the lawmakers on Monday that the dispute had emboldened the opposition, and warned that it was unacceptable for the PDP to be allowed to dictate who occupies positions in an APC administration he heads, a member who attended the meeting told PREMIUM TIMES.
The president is expected to be briefed today on the outcome of the meeting.
However, a source from Mr. Dogara’s camp disputed the agreement reached at the meeting.
The source said the party settled for the group’s nomination of Alhassan Doguwa as the majority leader, Pally Iriase as chief whip, Umar Jibrin as deputy leader and Chike Okafor as deputy whip.
Our correspondent says the claim by the Dogara camp may portend fresh dispute as the house reconvenes today.
The Gbajabiamila camp, meanwhile, has warned that any contrary decision on the floor of the house, different from what was agreed at the meeting, will be “strange” and considered an “affront against our collective interest including that of the President”.