NASS Crisis: Just Like Saraki, Dogara Says His Hands Are Tied; Explains Why He Defied Party
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara has said he was constrained not to yield to the request of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the selection of Principal officers for the House.
He said a court process by some agreieved lawmakers served on him and the constitutional provision on federal character created the the difficulty he found himself in over the matter that led to a fracas on the floor of the House last Thursday.
While accepting responsibility for the ugly incident, Dogara assured that a lasting solution would be proffered before resumption from a four-week recess to the satisfaction of all parties and Nigerians.
Dogara spoke when he received Forum of former members that paid him a courtesy call after the suspension of plenary on Thursday in his office.
“There was court process served on the leadership of the House. What they are alleging is very simple: whether it is in accordance with the constitution of Nigeria and the House rules that a political party has the right to chose the principal officers of the House.
“The second question is: assuming the political party has the right, whether it is in tandem with the constitution to exclude their zone, whether that meet the requirement of the provision of the federal character.
“So apparently it is not against the transcendent of the party and as presiding officers, we don’t want to announce the position of the party.
“But there are issues of law, issues relating to court, issues relating to the provisions of the constitution.
“Now the precedent that we saw not too long in the House is that anytime we have such audacious report, we have always run away from trying to force that.
“By this let me just explain: assuming we go ahead to announce the party’s position, which recognise members of the Northcentral as principal officers position and most of the members from the Southwest as principal officer positions and then the Northcentral members made a very strong allegation against APC.
“Assuming they win the case and the court now rules that that directive of the party breaches the provision of the constitution relating to the federal character, so do we now begin to see somebody vacating his principal officer position that we can accommodate the court’s ruling.
“So these are issues that really not easy to fathom or to sort. When we got this letter, we have raised this issue with the party that, there is the need for us to look at it so that we don’t get a ruling that will compel us to go back and enforce the alignment.
“We said the best thing is, in order to avoid this, let’s circulate the positions to the zones in the House.
“Meanwhile, there has never a time in the House where a zone got more than two leadership positions and we all know the provision of the constitution which did say that all positions must be guided by the standing orders
“But in a situation where the standing order is not explicit or is not provided for, then we provide that the use of precedent, customs, the tradition.
“So, that therefore means even though the law does not say distribute the position to six zones, but the tradition has been that it should go to six zones in line with the constitutional provision relating to the federal character. So this is the bone of contention.
“But as leaders, we are bound by the constitution and when we got that directive from the party, we said that we must defend the constitution, we must enforce our rules and whether we have it would have harmful effect on the constitution of Nigeria for us to adopt the position of the party.
“This is because certainl, wenhave to be aware of the gravity of the constitution.
“That is where we are and that is what we are discussing.
“It was ongoing discussion relating to this that certain section of our members felt ‘well whatever it is let the House know, that the party is supreme’ and so that was what led to the near fracas which we witnessed in the floor of the House”.
Dogara however apologised while stating that amends would made in order to have a peaceful House capable.of discharging it’s responsibilities to Nigerians.
He said: “We would make the platform through which we can ventilate the wishes and aspiration of our people.
“That was why I had to call on chairman ad hoc committee on media to apologise to Nigerians.
“I have accepted responsibility for anything that transpired and we apologise to the nation”.
The group, led by Hon Dauda Bundot and Jonathan Asake said it’s visit was in solidarity with the Speaker.