Abuja – Facts from the House of Representatives indicate that the alleged plot to impeach Yakubu Dogara as Speaker may be dead on arrival given the seeming inability of members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to muster the two-third majority.
The speaker and his loyalists are said to be poised to change the composition of the body of principal officers to conform to his support base in the House as it moves towards the 2019 general elections.
Currently, the APC has 190 members while PDP has 157, APGA has 5 members, ADC has 4 members, SDP has one member while Accord Party has one member.
However, there are two vacant seats resulting from the death of Buba Jubrin (APC, Kogi) and Funke Adedoyin (PDP, Kwara).
Sources close to the PDP caucus who spoke on condition of anonymity observed that some of the APC lawmakers appointed as principal officers may lose their seats in the wake of the impeachment plot as the speaker moves to strengthen his camp.
Findings revealed that some ranking members of the APC are already jostling for the caucus’s leadership position currently occupied by Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos).
Recall that Yakubu Dogara, in 2015, beat Gbajabiamila to the highly coveted position of speaker despite the insistence by the APC leadership that he step down for the former.
But having emerged speaker despite the party’s position, Dogara insisted on installing his loyalists into the body of principal officers, further infuriating the party’s leadership, including President Muhammadu Buhari, who waded into the matter and insisted that the party be obeyed.
But given the new turn of events, lawmakers who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity said a list of members believed to be working against the speaker was being compiled for possible referral to the Ethics and Privileges Committee for necessary action.
While answering questions regarding Speaker Dogara’s defection and what was next for the APC caucus, Mohammed Tahir Mungonu (APC, Borno), who expressed the willingness of the caucus to move for Dogara’s impeachment, however, admitted that impeaching the speaker remained an uphill task.
Monguno noted that Speaker Dogara, who recently decamped to the PDP, could only be impeached if the APC caucus could muster the 240 members required by the 1999 constitution (as amended).
“The parliamentary conventions and norms is that the majority party produces the leadership of the parliament except Nigeria will be an exception. My only advice is for the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to honourably resign their positions since they are now members of the minority party.
“In consonance with best democratic norms and values obtainable all over the world, based on the moral situation but with regards to the constitution, we need two-third to remove them and if the APC can muster that two-third majority, I wish APC members good luck,” he noted.
Mungonu, however, argued that the positions occupied by opposition members as presiding officers of both chambers will directly impact on the legislative business and policy direction of the APC-led government.
“It’s going to definitely disrupt legislative business because they are not members of the ruling party, so the manifesto as well as the programme of the party they belong to is directly in conflict with the programme and objectives of the ruling and majority party of the National Assembly. Therefore, there is going to be conflict of interest in the way and manner they are going to pursue the agenda of the party in government.
“And I think it may likely lead to sabotage. So, if we are sure that we are going to muster the two-third majority, we are going to count ourselves, definitely we are going to move ahead and then remove the speaker. But if we cannot get the two-third majority, there is no need to embark on an exercise in futility,” he said.
Also lending his voice to the debate, Sergius Ogun (PDP, Edo), who applauded the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as the PDP presidential candidate in the 2019 general elections, expressed optimism that APC couldn’t muster the required 240 members to unseat the speaker.
While reacting to the alleged impeachment plot, Ogun, who doubles as chairman, House Committee on FCT, told our correspondent that: “If they follow the constitution, they don’t have the firm, no party has the firm, to produce any speaker right now, and we were elected by Nigerians to come and represent them.
“If we want to follow the business of representing our people, that will be the last thing on the mind of anybody right now. So, he (Dogara) remains the speaker till the expiration of the 8th National Assembly.”
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