Crack in Gbajabiamila’s camp as Doguwa accepts offer of House leader
AHEAD of the resumption of proceedings in the House of Representatives, there appears to be a crack among the ranks of the All Progressives Congress (APC) group led by Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila.
Yesterday, a key member of the group, Alhaji Alhassan Ado Doguwa, who was tipped for the office of Deputy House Leader by the APC expressed readiness to accept the offer of the House leader made to the group by Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.
The Guardian also gathered that another member of the APC loyalists group, Mr. Pally Iriase (Owan East/West: Edo) has also resolved to accept the position of the chief whip of the lower legislative chamber.
Speaker Dogara had in a letter to the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun conceded two of the four principal positions to the APC loyalists group namely the office of the House Leader and Chief Whip as against the APC’s request that all four principal positions be occupied by Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila as the House Leader, Alhassan Ado Doguwa as Deputy House Leader, Pally Iriase for Chief Whip and Mohammed Mungonu for Deputy Chief Whip.
Dogara had kicked against the idea of Gbajabiamila occupying the position of the House Leader since the Deputy Speaker of the House, Sulaimon Lasun hails from the South West geo political zone.
Dogara further maintained that it would be just and fair to cede the House Leader position to the North West, and the remaining two principal positions – the deputy House leader and deputy chief whip to North Central and South East geo political zones in line with the principles of federal character.
Members of the APC loyalists group insist that Dogara must abide by the instruction of the Chief Odigie Oyegun-led APC.
But in an exclusive interview with The Guardian, Doguwa (Doguwa: Kano: APC) justified his resolve saying it was aimed at ensuring the return of peace in the House of Representatives.
Expressing concern on the crises rocking the House of Representatives, he said it behooves on all members of the APC loyalists group to sheath their swords and support the leadership of Speaker Dogara in the interest of the country.
“I believe that by the time we resume on the 28th of July, we shall have peace to reign on the floor of the House,” he said adding: “The biggest position; the majority leader, the chief whip which are the most principal even among the principal officers of the House, for them to have gone to that extent, I believe that this is a very good development. And I will want to urge our members to accept this offer in good faith.
“The issue at stake is about group, it is not about individual. It is about the group, it is not about personal interests. It is about collective interests and I want to see reason going by the responses and actions of Nigerians at the moment. Our people; our constituents are becoming so much disenchanted with the scheme of things now in the House of Representatives.
“They are not happy that members are quarreling not over the welfare of Nigerians, we are fighting on the floor of the House not because we want to make good laws to entrench better economy, but we are fighting over principal positions.
“For this reason, members of our group want to see reason and consider the concession made by the consolidation group. I think it is a welcome development. In my personal opinion, our group should accept this offer in the interest of peace and stability of the House and I want to believe that whoever becomes the benefactor of this new arrangement still remain proud member of the APC loyalists group.
“I believe in most of the philosophies and conviction that we have as a group. We are now in a situation whereby we have to eschew bitterness and work with what is on ground. We have to work with the realities on ground, which is that the Dogara group is willing to make concession by conceding two major positions to our group. It is just like a situation whereby you are asking somebody to give you a cake in your left hand and he now decided to give you through your left hand side.
“Whichever hand collects it as far as I am concerned, it is still you that collects it. We want to collect the majority leader through Femi and collect other positions through our genuine members of the loyalists group.
“So I want to say categorically that those of us who were fighting Dogara using the party’s platform as our local standi have no basis to fight again. So under no circumstances shall we continue to fight Dogara. We have no option than to accept Dogara’s offer. Our own group as a platform has not met since July 3rd till date, but if my opinion is something to go by, this is what I think our group should do.”
Asked whether his position amounts to betraying Gbajabiamila, he said: “It is not shutting out Gbajabiamila, but if you are refusing Gbajabiamila and accepting Ado Doguwa, it is like you are accepting Gbajabiamila. Like I said it is like you ask somebody to give you carrot through your right hand and the person said no, he is giving you through the left hand side. It is not about Gbajabiamila, it is about the group and the party and in the case of the party, I have told you my own understanding of the party. I feel Gbajabiamila and Ado Doguwa are committed members of the APC. There is no point refusing the Speaker’s offer.
“For me, if Doguwa accepts what is meant for Gbajabiamila, it is the same as Gbajabiamila. It is not about Ado, it is not about Gbajabiamila. It is about our group. We are not working around an individual. Ab-initio, we started as loyal APC members committed to the pursuant of our party interests. The party gave us a road map and we toed it to the end. You recall on the day of our inauguration, Femi lost the election.
“There were offers to Femi to rise and accept nomination for the deputy speakership, Femi then said no and said we have to conclude the party’s bidding. He said the party sent us on a bidding to stand for Speaker and there is someone for the office of the deputy speaker. If I go down memory lane, the same arrangement that wanted Gbajabiamila, Mungonu as deputy speaker wanted me as House leader all other things being equal. I was to run for the House leader if Gbajabiamila had won. God coming by way of intervention has taken us back to the path of justice.
“God is also intervening by taking us back to the drawing board reminding all members of the loyalists group that this is what you agreed upon. The fact that Femi lost election, Monguno lost election does not deprive Doguwa from becoming the House leader because that was the initial arrangement in the first place. No one should take my position on accepting the offer to mean that we are edging out Femi.