Members of the House of Representatives who are in support of Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila on Wednesday evening appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to call the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, and members of his group to order.
They accused the All Progressives Congress’ members on the side of Dogara of allegedly colluding with the Peoples Democratic Party to polarise the ruling party to give room for them to later defect to the PDP.
This was one of the issues they raised when they met with Buhari behind closed-doors at the Conference Hall of the First Lady’s Office inside the Presidential Villa on Wednesday evening.
Copies of their presentation to the President were made available to journalists at the end of the meeting also attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The 30 lawmakers who attended the meeting on behalf of their colleagues were led by Gbajabiamila.
They said the President’s intervention was needed 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 officers 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 calling to order, 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.
Gbajabiamila later told State House correspondents 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 and find a way forward.
He described the meeting as a very successful one, saying the APC caucus and the party would come out bigger, stronger and better for it.
When asked what the President told them, Gbajabiamila said Buhari is a party man who believes in party supremacy and the party’s ideologies.
When asked why Dogara would be absent at the meeting when he claimed that it was for APC caucus, the lawmaker said the Speaker could have other engagements.
He 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.”
When also asked the way forward after the meeting with the President, the lawmaker said the party’s will would be done.
He said the sooner all lawmakers recognised the fact that they did not get to the House as independent candidates, the sooner they would chart a way forward.