WE WON’T ACCEPT GBAJABIAMILA AS MAJORITY LEADER, DOGARA FACTION INSISTS

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Members of the House of Representatives loyal to the Speaker,
Yakubu Dogara, have said they will ensure federal character as enshrined in
Nigeria’s constitution is adhered to in the appointment of Principal Officers
of the House.
The group said it stands by its offer that south west and north east
cannot produce the majority leader of the House. The major contender for the
slot is Femi Gbajabiamila, who is from the south west.
The Dogara group said this in a statement signed by Abdulmumini
Jibrin, representing Kano, in reaction to an earlier statement released by
members loyal to Mr. Gbajabiamila, who is the ruling All Progressives Congress’
preferred candidate for the position of Majority Leader.

The APC had initially adopted Mr. Gbajabiamila to become
speaker. He lost the seat to Mr. Dogara.
Mr. Dogara rejects Mr. Gbajabiamila as the leader of the APC
caucus in the house. He cites federal character since the deputy speaker, Yusuf
Lasun, like Mr. Gbajabiamila, is from the south west.
The Dogara faction said Wednesday it was offering the
Gbajabiamila faction the majority leader, but said the slot must be occupied by
a lawmaker from any region except south west and north east, where Mr. Dogara
comes from.
The group said it was making the offer to end weeks of bickering
that has stalled legislative functions.
The Gbajabiamila group said Wednesday while it was yet to
formally be given the offer, its stance that Gbajabiamila be made the Majority
Leader was not negotiable.
The Dogara group has reacted to the demand, insisting on respect
for federal character in distribution of appointments.
In its statement early Thursday, the group said every
geopolitical zone in Nigeria be given representation in the principal officers
of the House.
They also faulted the argument by the Gbajabiamila group that
the South East Zone produced only two “new” members, who do not have cognate
legislative experience and therefore not entitled to be represented in the
principal officers’ cadre.
“In the first place, any person acquainted with the Rules and
practice of the House knows that a new member is regarded as having “cognate
legislative experience” immediately he is sworn in as a Member as it is only
new members- elect that are affected by the Rule,” they said.
They also said established precedents in the Senate and House of
Representatives had shown consistent respect for zonal representation in the
election of principal officers, even when there were only a few from a zone.
“It is as a result of this, that the 7th Senate, elected Senator
Ayoola Hosea Agboola, Deputy Chief Whip, even though he was the only Member
from his party from the South West.
“Furthermore, in the 7th House of Representatives, Hon Mulikat
Akande, was made House Leader even though she was one of only five members from
her party from her Zone.  
“Even only recently, in the 8th Senate, Senator Francis
Alimikhena, from the South South has been made Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate,
a principal officer , even though he is a “new” member and the only member of
APC from the South South,” they said.
The Dogara group also faulted the decision of the APC leadership
on the matter, saying if adhered to, the party position would completely shut
out the North Central zone which has 33 members in the House from the APC.
“This so called party position, if allowed to stand, would
result in the South West producing the Deputy Speaker and Leader of the House
and North East would produce Speaker and Chief Whip of the House. This is most
unfair and inequitable.
“In fact, there is no evidence that any of the Organs of the
Party, APC, such as the National Working Committee, the National Caucus or
National Executive Committee, approved such an unjust outcome. We insist that
this is not even the Party position,” the group said.
The Dogara group also said it was “erroneous” to assert that
there was a resolution at the recent meeting of the National Executive
Committee, NEC, of the APC on Party supremacy that recognized any one as House
Leader or any other principal officer of the House.
“The matter was not an item on the Agenda of the APC NEC meeting
and no such resolution or decision was taken,” they said.
The group insisted that the way out of the logjam, is for the aggrieved
APC members who lost election for the Presiding Officers of the House, to
accept the offer extended to them to produce the House Leader from among
themselves, but excluding any member from the South West or North East.

“If this magnanimity is not accepted, then the generally
accepted method of choosing Principal Officers in the House over the years by
Caucuses would be activated,” they said.

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