A group of All Progressive Congress (APC) members of the House of Representatives have raised the alarm before President Muhammadu Buhari of plans by a faction of APC House of Representatives members loyal to the Speaker, Right Honourable Yakubu Dogara to defect to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The group led by former House of Representatives minority leader, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila raised the alarm when they held a closed door meeting with the president yesterday.
The meeting was also attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Honourable Gbajabiamila led thirty members of the APC in the House of Representatives loyal to him to the meeting.
They urged the president to intervene in order to save the party’s integrity.
They demanded that Dogara be asked to return to their fold and announce the other four principal officer’s positions in the House as directed by the party as it has always been the convention.
They said, “It is noteworthy that Mr. President and the governors had strongly put their weight behind the party and had severally admonished the House to abide by the party’s position.
“The 39 APC members in the House continue to collude with the PDP to flagrantly disobey Mr. President, the governors and the party with a view to bringing the party and government to ridicule before Nigerians.
“The conduct of the 39 APC members colluding with the PDP is tantamount to affront, ultimately targeted at polarising our party so as to give room for many of them to decamp to the PDP.
“It is therefore imperative for Mr. President to take a stand and save the integrity of the party by cautioning the 39 members, which include the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, to respect, honour and obey our party Leaders and their directives.
“In conclusion, Mr. President, we as loyal party members shall continue to abide by the party constitution, respect and honour our party leaders and their directives.
“We strongly appeal to you to direct the Speaker to return to our fold and be truly elected Speaker on APC platform. He should be directed to announce the other four party principal officers’ positions as directed by the party as it has always been the convention.
“We sincerely appreciate Mr. President for the audience trusting in his ability to successfully mediate so as to save our great party, the APC, from further embarrassment.”
The lawmakers said while Gbajabiamila and the party’s choice for the position of Deputy Speaker had openly congratulated Dogara and his deputy, the opposition and the 39 APC members continued to hold the APC leadership in contempt.
They wondered what would be the reward of the 174 of them that have remained obedient and loyal to the party.
While noting that the Speaker’s group had cited the Federal Character principle as the reason why they will not honour the party’s directive on the choice of the remaining principal officers, the lawmakers said that principle was not applicable to the National Assembly.
“It should be noted that the Federal Character principle as embedded in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is not justiciable and of no legal consequence.
“Its provision in S.14 of the Constitution is only applicable to appointments in Federal Ministries and Agencies.
“The House of Representatives is not an agency of the Federal government and the principal officers’ positions are elective and not by appointment.
“If the Federal Character is applicable to the National Assembly, then both the Senate President and the Speaker cannot come from the North, one of them should be advised to step down,” they argued.
Speaking with journalists, Gbajabiamila affirmed that he led the lawmakers who belong to the APC caucus to meet with the President in order to iron out the issues that had arisen since June 9.
While describing the meeting as a successful one, Gbajabiamila stated that the APC caucus and the party would come out bigger, stronger and better for it.
Gbajabiamila said president Buhari is a party man who believes in party supremacy and the party’s ideologies.
When asked why Dogara was absent at the meeting in claims that it was for APC caucus, the lawmaker said.
“The Speaker probably has other engagements. There are a few members of the caucus that are not here. We could not get everybody here.
“This is a representation of the caucus. When we are talking about the caucus, we are talking about 210 members. You did not find all the members here.
“This is a representation of the 210 members.”
When reminded that all those who attended are members of his camp, Gbajabiamila said, “It is not about me and we need to get that clear. Yes, they voted for me but the idea is that they supported the party.
“That is who we are and there is nothing more to be said about that. It is not about any individual.”
Gbajabiamila further stated that the sooner all lawmakers recognised the fact that they did not get to the House as independent candidates, the sooner they would make progress.
Copies of their presentation to the President were made available to journalists at the end of the meeting.