•Unresolved leadership crisis forces NASS to shift resumption date
House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara may be losing his plot to allocate four principal offices in the House to geo political zones other than those prescribed by his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Dogara in a July 16 letter to the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, proposed that in accordance with the federal character formula enshrined in the 1999 Constitution, the position of House leader should go to the Northwest; Deputy House Leader to the North Central; Chief Whip to the South East; and Deputy Chief Whip to the South South.
This is against the party’s proposal of Femi Gbajabiamila from the Southwest as House leader; Alhassan Ado Doguwa from the Northwest as Deputy House leader; M.T.Monguno from the Northeast as Chief Whip; and Pally Iriase from the South South as Deputy Chief Whip.
Dogara’s position is seen as a ploy to stop his rival for the Speakership, Gbajabiamila, from becoming House leader.
Sources in the Speaker’s camp told The Nation yesterday that some of his supporters are beginning to express their frustration at what they see as his winner takes all stance.
One of the Speaker’s backers from Sokoto State said his camp is now split between those who believe that the party should be allowed to have its way on the filling of the four positions and those who want Dogara and his group to have everything for themselves.
“As far as I am aware, the issue of the vacant principal offices is yet to be resolved. As we speak, the groups led by Speaker Dogara and his rival, Femi Gbajabiamila, are yet to agree on the would-be occupants of the offices. I can also tell you that those of us in Dogara’s camp are divided over the matter too, especially over the Speaker’s last letter to the APC chairman,” the source said last night.
He added: “While there are those who believe the Speaker should not agree with the party on how best to resolve this matter, some of us are of the opinion that it is best for us to allow for party supremacy at this point. There is no need for further opposition to the party’s directives on this matter especially after Mr. President intervened on more than one occasion. We feel we must be magnanimous in victory.”
The House was originally scheduled to resume on Tuesday, July 21 but this has now been shifted by one week, same as the Senate which is also contending with its own leadership problem.
Sources said the crisis is at the root of the shift in resumption date by the two chambers.
The Nation learnt that the disagreement among pro-Dogara lawmakers started before his letter to the APC National Chairman.
Sources said the letter has even aggravated the disagreement in the Speaker’s camp with some describing it as an affront on the party leadership.
“Before the letter was written, we met to discuss the various options available to resolve the crisis and I can tell you that a good number of us are in support of the party’s position.
“But it appears some people are scared of something. The opposition is more against Gbajabiamila than against the party. In spite of pleas that we should no longer rock the boat, the letter was written to the disappointment of some of us. This has led to a more complicated situation because there are further cracks within the House.”
A Rep from Lagos State and supporter of Gbajabiamila said:”We are aware that the current leadership of the House itself is divided over how best to resolve the crisis. We also leant that given the sharp difference in opinion, it is likely that resumption may be shifted to avoid another rancorous plenary. But whatever happens, we are resolute that party supremacy should not be sacrificed for any political gain by all the camps involved in this matter.”
But House Ad-hoc Committee Chairman on Media and Public Affairs, Mohammed Sani Zorro, differed on the reason for the postponement of the resumption date.
His words: “I don’t think the House is postponing resumption because of its inability to reconcile the matter at hand. The House works with a calendar. The Senate has shifted its resumption to July 28; you know sometimes they come out with a common calendar; at times, one chamber resumes a few days before the other. I assure you that if there is any postponement, it cannot be as a result of the disagreement.”
Multiple sources told The Nation in Abuja that “various caucuses at the National Assembly have been meeting with the aim of finding ways and means to put the leadership crisis behind us when we resume.”
“We don’t want to come back a divided house,” one of the sources said.
Another source said: “We have it on good authority that the Governor Abubakar Bagudu committee set-up by the All Progressives Congress (APC) leadership to resolve the National Assembly crisis has submitted its report to the party.
“The leadership of the National Assembly thought it necessary to give the party leadership some time to consider the report and state its position on the matter.”
He said that the National Assembly leadership is working to ensure that Senators and members of the House of Representatives return as a united parliament in their chambers.
“Enough of bickering, it is better to give the party leadership a little more time to sort out the remaining differences. The Bagudu led peace committee has submitted its report to the party.
“The party should be allowed to consider the report and come up with its position. We are all poised for peace. If one more week will give us the peace we desire, it would not have been a wasted effort.
“I can also tell you that (Senate President) Saraki is reaching out to stakeholders with the aim of arriving at agreeable resolution of all issues at stake.”
The National Assembly plans to resume next week by which time President Muhammadu Buhari would have returned home from the US.
The National Assembly has been embroiled in crisis since the June 9th election of the Senate President, Deputy Senate president as well as Speaker of the House of Representatives and Deputy Speaker.