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Friday, 31 July 2015

POLITICS: How Buhari Got House Leader Job For Gbajabiamila

SPEAKER Yakubu Dogara of the House of Representatives yesterday succumbed to pressures from his All Progressives Congress, APC, and named Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila House Majority Leader, and by that, drew the curtain on the lingering crisis that has trailed the chamber since its inauguration last June.
Among those who put pressure on the Speaker, it was learnt yesterday, was President Muhammadu Buhari who reportedly put in a phone call to Dogara following a last-minute meeting with party leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, however, denied knowledge of any interaction between the President and the Speaker prior to yesterday’s pronouncement.

Following yesterday’s resolution of the crisis, Speaker Dogara charged the legislators to proceed to discharge the issues that brought them to Abuja, saying that they had wasted enough time on issues of personal aggrandisement.

Prior to the sitting yesterday, tempers had reached feverish pitch upon the resolution of supporters of the Speaker to adopt what they termed as the party’s “position as amended,” which would have led to the exclusion of Gbajabiamila, the party favourite who lost out in the leadership contest to Dogara on June 9.

Security was tightened within the precincts of the National Assembly with the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, leading the screening of visitors into the Assembly complex.

The Speaker also had arrived the Assembly complex with the National Security Adviser, NSA, Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd).

Allies of Speaker Yakubu Dogara who had in recent days consolidated their superiority over the camp of Gbajabiamila following defections from the camp of the latter, had at the end of a caucus meeting that ended around 12.30 a.m. in Abuja yesterday resolved to push ahead with their permutation of Ado Doguwa (Kano) for House Leader, Bala Jibrin (Kogi) for Deputy Leader, Pally Iriase (Edo) for Chief Whip and Chike Okafor (Imo) for Deputy Leader.

That plan was aborted midway into yesterday’s session following pressures from the Presidency, urging Dogara to kowtow to the party’s earlier stance on Gbajabiamila for House Leader.

Speaker Dogara who was presiding over the affairs of the House had to step down from the chair to allow his deputy, Rep. Yusuf Lasun to take over deliberations while he conferred with Gbajabiamila and Doguwa in the office of the House Clerk.

Following the deliberations that lasted for about one hour, the Clerk returned to the chair and announced the complement of principal officers of the ruling APC.

He announced Iriase as deputy whip, Jibrin as Deputy Leader, Doguwa as Chief Whip and Gbajabiamila as Leader, immediately throwing majority of the members into celebration mode as they congratulated the Speaker for reaching out to his rival.

Speaker Dogara also announced the complement of four officers to represent the minority Peoples Democratic Party, PDP as principal officers. Those announced were Rep. Leo Ogor (PDP, Delta) — Minority Leader, Rep. Wilfred Chukwuma (PDP, Anambra) — Deputy Minority Whip, Rep. Yakubu Badre (PDP, Kaduna) — Deputy Minority Leader and Rep. Binta Bello (PDP, Gombe) — Minority Whip.

The announcement of Gbajabiamila as House Leader was a departure from the earlier stance of the Speaker that doing so would violate the spirit of federal character given that Gbajabiamila is from the South-West which had already filled the position of Deputy Speaker. The development left the South-East as the only geopolitical zone not to have a representative in the APC’s complement of principal officers.

APC has abandoned us — S-East

Reacting to the development yesterday, Rep. Austin Chukwukere (APC, Ideato North/South), Imo State, said that the South-east members were not happy because the party abandoned them despite what they passed through during the election.

He said that their constituents had expressed disappointment over the injustice done to the South-east members and that there had been no explanation to them on why they should be treated unfairly.

“We are not happy over our exclusion and the way the party has abandoned us despite what we passed through during the election to ensure that APC has representation in our place. Our constituents have been calling us over this development and we have not heard from the party why this injustice should be meted on us.”

What happened is politics — Gbajabiamila

But reacting to the composition of the Body of Principal officers and his selection as the House leader, Gbajabiamila said, “What you saw in the last 49 days was actually democracy in action.

“That’s what politics is all about: everybody trying to outwit everybody for the greater good of the country. I’m glad that everything has panned out the way it did. You will now see the House you knew in the last four years back in action, working for the people, working for the nation. I’m sure we’ll have a lot more to say tomorrow (today).

We can’t afford to let Nigerians down— Dogara

Earlier in his welcome remarks Speaker Dogara had called on members to project the interest of the country above personal interests.

“We can neither afford to abuse the confidence reposed in us nor can we dare to expose ourselves to the cruel judgment of history.

“We had started on an excellent note, or so I thought, having spent a whole legislative day conducting free, fair and transparent elections to elect the two presiding officers, at the end of which both those who won and those who did not win exercised great maturity in respecting the will of the majority.

“How come then that this spirit of maturity and democratic culture suddenly appears to be eluding us in our effort to conclude the composition of principal officers to facilitate smooth take-off ?

“Our great party, the All Progressives Congress, along with Mr President and other party leaders exhibited uncommon democratic tradition by abstaining from direct interference in the process and given the manner we conducted the election in this chamber on June 9.

“I am persuaded that they do not regret reposing such confidence in us. In this regard we owe them, ourselves, and indeed all Nigerians a duty to prove that we can conclude this process rancour-free and without denting our party’s democratic credentials. This we can do and I am confident that we shall.

“Today marks the 49th day since June 9, it would appear it has been all about ourselves and our personal ambitions. My dear colleagues the mandate we hold is not about our personal ambitions, it is all about the people, the people, and the people. Indeed it is about Nigeria.”

“As representatives of the people therefore, we must be the manifestation of their high expectations of good governance, probity, transparency and accountability; we must be the manifestation of their unmitigated impatience against dormancy in governance and above all we must resonate their pain of poverty, squalor and insecurity.”

Meanwhile, the Speaker has constituted an ad-hoc committee headed by Rep. Garba Dati to screen the service chiefs. This is in response to the letter from President Buhari to the House seeking for the confirmation of the service chiefs.



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