Gbajabiamila accuses Dogara of undermining his position
Aggrieved PDP senators reject adoption of votes, proceedings over Amaechi’s confirmation
THE last is yet to be heard of the squabble between the All Progressives Congress (APC) loyalists group and the consolidation group in the House of Representatives.
There were indications that the leader of the APC loyalists group led by the House Leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, was ignored by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, on the appointment of chairmen and deputy chairmen of committees in disregard of the House’s Standing Order.
Of the 96 committees’ chairmen appointed by Dogara, the APC got 49 seats while the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) got 46. The Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) were allotted one and two committee chairmanship slots respectively.
If a correspondence dated October 20 this year, addressed to the Speaker are anything to go by, Dogara may not have reckoned with Gbajabiamila when he picked the occupants of the committee chairmen positions.
Gbajabiamila, had, even before the announcement of the committee chairmen and deputy chairmen, penultimate week argued that his role as the House Leader had grossly been undermined as far as the choice of committee chairmen and deputy chairmen were concerned.
He said it was so unfortunate that Speaker Dogara accorded special preference to members of the opposition PDP than his exalted office of the leader of the House.
In another development, there was a mild drama in the Senate yesterday as senators from the opposition PDP unanimously refused to be part of the approval and adoption of last Thursday’s votes and proceedings.
The opposition senators had walked out of the Chamber last Thursday to protest what they described as a shut-out by the ruling APC members over the confirmation of former Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi as a minister.
At the resumption of plenary, President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, called Senator Isiaka Adeleke to move a motion for the adoption of the votes and proceedings of the Senate of October 29 (Thursday).
After Adeleke moved the motion, Saraki also in line with parliamentary practice, asked Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP, Delta North) to second the motion, a request he declined.
Giving reasons for his actions, Nwaoboshi said: “My President, I will not be able to second the motion because I was not at the plenary to know what was done.”
Consequently, Saraki called on Senator Ibrahim Gobir to second the motion, which he did promptly. Then the President of the Senate put the question for the approval of the votes and proceedings.
While the members of the APC shouted a resounding ‘Ayes’, the PDP senators echoed ‘Nay’ to register their grievances.
The Senate President however hit the Gavel as he gave victory to the ruling party for proper commencement of the day’s business.
The text of the correspondence copied the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and made available to The Guardian noted inter alia: “I acknowledge your rights and prerogative to determine the leadership of the House committees and I intend to work with you after such determination has been made. I intend and I have stated on many occasions privately and publicly to work with you for the progress of the House.
“However, I am constrained at this point to ask that due consideration is given to the provisions of our House Rules Order 7 Rule 10, Paragraph (a) of the House rules which states that the Speaker “shall in consultation with principal officers appoint the chairmen and deputy chairmen from among the members on the committee. On the role of the Majority House Leader; Order 7 Rule 27 (2) c says that the Leader of the House shall “liaise with committee chairmen and other functionaries of the House.
“Hon. Speaker, in the light of the foregoing provisions of our rules and in line with parliamentary tradition world over, undermining the office of the Leader or any other principal officer would not strengthen the Legislature or our democracy.
“The situation where any principal officer whether from the majority of minority party only knows of the appointment referred to above upon announcement on the floor will not augur well for the progress of this House. I have taken the liberty to write you on this matter for record purposes and in the hope that every principal office in this House would be given its due as enshrined in our House Rules.”
But Dogara’s aide on Media and Public Relations, Malam Hassan Turaki, released two memos showing that the appointment of committee heads was jointly done by the leadership of the House, comprising all principal officers at a scheduled meeting.