Suddenly, there was a rehash of Brutus’ stabbing in the back of Julius Caesar, in the on-going soap-opera like political drama playing out at the Federal House of Representatives over the battle between Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House and the former Minority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila , who lost out in the battle for the speakership.
Only last week members loyal to Speaker Yakubu Dogara claimed a deal had been struck with the rival faction loyal to the leadership of the All Progressives Congress and Femi Gbajabiamila, saying the crisis in the lower legislative chamber was over. Just as Nigerians were about to heave a sigh of relief, the Gbajabiamila group immediately punctured the claim, saying no agreement had been reached, and that the so-called Dogara formula remained unacceptable to their camp.
The Dogara group, through its spokesman, Abdulmumini Jibrin, had last week Saturday addressed a press conference in Abuja saying an arrangement, known as the’’ Dogara Formula’’, had been reached after extensive consultations with stakeholders and the rival group, which was Gbajabiamila’s..
Under the arrangement, which he said had been accepted by members of the two rival factions, the group loyal to Mr. Gabajabiamila would produce the House leader from the North West and Chief Whip from the South South.
Mr. Jibrin said the new formula had thrown up what is now known as “Equity Team”.
“In line with the Formula, the Equity Team has Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa(APC Kano, North West) as House Leader, Hon Buba Jibrin(APC Kogi, North Central) as Deputy Leader, Hon Pally Iriase(APC Edo, South South) as Chief Whip and Hon. Chika Okafor(APC Imo, South East) as Deputy Chief Whip,” he said.
Mr. Jibrin said both the Speaker and a great majority of the APC caucus in the House, including “gladiators” in the Gbajabiamila’s group such as Messrs. Mongunu, Doguwa and Iriase support and stand by the Equity Team.
“We have commenced collection of signatures which has reached advanced stage to affirm the Dogara formula,” he said.
He also said all other interests, including those excluded from the principal officers, specifically Messrs Gbajabiamila and Mongunu, would be duly accommodated with “commensurate responsibility to serve”.
Since the Speaker has about 200 positions to share out, many members will have the opportunity to serve the country, the lawmaker said.
“In the light of this development, it is heart-warming to announce to you that the disagreement in the House, which many have erroneously labelled as crisis, has finally come to an end,” he said.
Mr. Jibrin said the Speaker’s camp worked out the new arrangement “in order to actualise the needed peace and unity in the Green Chamber so as to commence work for the Nigerian People and provide support for President, Muhammadu Buhari”.
“Let me reiterate our resolve that President Buhari is going to enjoy the maximum and unprecedented support of the APC caucus in the House in order for him to achieve all the laudable programmes of this government,” he said.
But shortly after Mr. Jibrin briefed the media, a member loyal to the APC and Mr. Gbajabiamila, Nasiru Zangon-Daura, circulated a statement on behalf of his group denying that any agreement had been reached.
“The APC loyalists group hereby deny and unequivocally reject any purported endorsement of a so-called formula on the APC leadership in the House of Representatives,” he said
Mr. Zangon-Daura said any member of the loyalist group who “claims to be part of this arrangement acts on his own and not on behalf of the group”.
The House of Representatives has remained stuck in crisis since its inauguration in early June over the appointment of other principal officers after Mr. Dogara emerged speaker against the wish of the leadership of the APC.
Several efforts have been made to find solution to the crisis and a couple of proposals were advanced.
Mr. Dogara’s proposal, which he forwarded to the national chairman of the APC, John Oyegun, is what Mr. Jibrin announced Saturday.
The Speaker had argued that since the North-East and South-West had produced Speaker and Deputy Speaker already, the remaining principal positions should go to the North-West, North-Central, South-South and South-East in the spirit of “equity, fairness, justice, a strong precedence and provision of the constitution”
Sources close to the two rival factions hinted that what led to the development was the treachery of Gbajabiamila’s key lieutenants in the realization of his bid to become Majority Leader. Sources hinted that Alhassan Ardo, who until last Saturday was a vociferous supporter along with Parry Iriase were dangled with juicy positions by Dogara to buy their loyalty. Ardo Dogunwa was promised Gbajabiamila’s dream while Iriase was promised the position of Deputy Majority Leader.
It would be recalled that members of the House loyal to Speaker Yakubu Dogara had earlier in June agreed to concede the position of House Leader to the group loyal to Femi Gbajabiamila, as part of efforts to restore peace to the House.
The House has been enmeshed in crises following Mr. Dogara’s election against the wish of his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The APC had supported Mr. Gbajabiamila to emerge speaker.
After losing the speakership election, the party nominated the lawmaker as the House Majority Leader, a proposal since opposed by Mr. Dogara.
The concession was a follow-up to a concession brokered earlier by the former Speaker and now Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal in Abuja in late June.
Earlier, APC governors had, after their meeting sometimes in the second week of June formed a committee led by Mr. Tambuwal to mediate and find a solution to the crisis in the House.