Reps Crisis And The Southeast Conundrum
THOSE who expected throwing of chairs at Tuesday resumption of plenary by members of the House of Representative left disappointed as proceedings on the floor of the parliament presided by Speaker Yakubu Dogara went smoothly without any crisis. An atmosphere of uncertainty had enveloped the Chamber prior to the commencement of proceedings.
Dogara was expected to announce the leadership composition at the end of Monday All Progressives Congress (APC) leadership meeting with president Muhammadu Buhari to reconcile the warring factions who are locked in a battle over who occupies the remaining four majority positions in the House.
However, what could have passed for a rancour-free session on Tuesday was punctuated with a Point of Order by Ali Madaki (APC-Kano) who called on members to discountenance a plea by Alhassan Ado Doguwa (APC-Kano) praying for forgiveness for the unparliamentary conduct of some members and the resultant crisis which engulfed the House soon after inauguration on June 9.
Doguwa had in a motion which bothered on personal explanation specifically sought the leave of the chamber to apologise for his “unparliamentary conduct” and role in the crisis and the resultant fracas on the floor leading to the suspension of plenary on June 25.
Although Speaker Dogara ruled Madaki out of order, the development on the floor had already heightened the atmosphere. When the session resumed, expectations were high but hopes were later deflated as late into the session, Dogara vacated the dais for his deputy to continue with the proceedings. He did not announce the appointments.
But Dogara who earlier delegated the moderation of the House’s plenary to his deputy, dramatically reappeared later from a reported meeting with Buhari to announce the positions before adjourning sitting till the next day.
They were Femi Gbajabiamila (APC-Lagos) as the House Majority Leader and Buba Jibrin (APC-Kogi) as the Deputy Majority Leader. Alhassan Ado Doguwa (APC-Kano) and Pally Iriase (APC-Edo) were named Chief Whip and Deputy Chief Whip respectively.
The opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) named the composition of its leadership. The party announced Leo Ogor (Delta; south-south) as its Minority Leader, Yakubu Umar Barde minority whip ((Kaduna, North west), deputy Minority Whip, Binta Bello (Gombe, Northeast), and Chukwuka Onyema as dep. minority leader (Anambra, southeast).
This may have ended the protracted crisis which engulfed the Chamber soon after the inauguration on 9 June, over vacant leadership positions in the chamber. With the dust now settled, it is expected that the members of the 8th House will sheath their swords and immediately begin work in earnest for the benefit of Nigerians.
This arose from the fact that at the end of a meeting of the All Progressives Congress, APC Caucus of the House which ended about 12.15am, Thursday Dogara declared: “It is only in unity that we can positively contribute to the change we all worked for and move Nigeria forward towards our desired dream of a greater nation”.
He also assured that efforts were being made by the APC caucus in the House to placate the South East geopolitical zone that was not represented in the new leadership configuration.
An obviously elated Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila has also assured “there are no longer factions in the House, whatever happened earlier is now behind us and we are ready to serve Nigerians to the best of our ability”.
For Gbajabiamila, “it is not right to play the ethnic or regional card for now, but everything will be done to ensure the South East is adequately compensated.”
For Abiodun Faleke, APC, Ikeja Federal Constituency, Lagos, “we are no longer fighting as you can see, we are now ready to work with other legislators and move our dear country forward.”
For Abdulmunin Jibrin, APC, Kano, “this meeting has healed all wounds there is nobody here that is nursing any anger or ill-feelings any longer.”
The crisis may have come and gone but it remains to be seen how the Yakubu Dogara-led chamber will tackle the emerging wrangling from the South East caucus over alleged marginalisation of the zone in the leadership configuration of the APC-dominated House of Representatives.
Here lies the emerging conundrum and the quest for tranquility in the House of Representatives.
Already, a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Imo state, Chikere Okafor has decried the exclusion of the South East in the leadership appointments in the Chamber and has called on the party to go beyond lip service and rhetoric and embrace every section of the country in the spirit of the change espoused by its lead