Home The Politico When Dogara Ate The Humble Pie

When Dogara Ate The Humble Pie


Political Correspondent IBIDAPO BALOGUN, who followed the crisis in the House of Representatives from June 9 when Hon. Yakubu Dogara emerged as Speaker, and through the seeming final resolution of the crisis last Monday, writes on how the crisis was put out, the principal actors in the conflict and picks the winners and losers…

It would appear that the media did not read the outcome of the meeting last Monday between President Muhammadu Buhari and the then warring All Progressives Congress (APC) factions in the House of Representatives well. The meeting was reported to have ended in a deadlock as the two factions then in the House-the pro-Speaker Yakubu Dogara camp and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila faction-were said to have stuck to their guns. But that 20-minutes meeting with House members provided the much-needed tonic for the resolution of the crisis which had rocked the House for weeks since the emergence of Dogara as Speaker. The follow-up meeting APC National Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun had with warring factions only sealed up the discussion with House members had with President Buhari. Speaker Dogara was said to have been prevailed upon at the meeting to ensure an amicable resolution of the House crisis by acceding to the request to make former Minority Leader of the House, Gbajabiamila, the Majority Leader. Gbajabiamila was the anointed candidate of the APC for the Speakership, but Dogara and his supporters in APC had teamed up with Peoples Democratic Party House members to defy APC’s directive and elect Dogara as Speaker in the June 9 election. So, it was thought to be against the grains of discussions at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa as reported by the media when Dogara announced Gbajabiamila as the House Leader. It was a big surprise to many; but nonetheless a big relief to those who had followed the crisis in the House. However, the announcement of Gbajabiamila as House Leader followed President Buhari’s intervention. Buhari had always canvassed that the House members respect the party’s position. Before meeting all the APC House members, Gbajabiamila had met the president twice within 24 hours during the weekend preceding the Monday meeting of APC members with Buhari.

Dogara’s apology…

At last Tuesday’s session, Speaker Dogara first apologised to the nation for the crisis, which had rendered the House prostrate and unable to perform its legislative duties for which and which had engendered a free-for-all in the chamber. Then he took a short break to engage in more consultation, allowing his deputy, Hon. Suleiman Lasun Yusuf, to preside over proceedings briefly. He soon returned to announce the composition of the principal officers. He did this with a tinge of drama. He began from the rear, announcing the Deputy Minority Whip all through to the House Majority Leader, which he gave to Gbajabiamila from Lagos State. The Speaker in his group had for weeks insisted that they had ceded the position of House Leader to the Gbajabiamila group but that the would-be leader should not come from either the South-west or North-east where the Deputy Speaker Yusuf and himself (Dogara) hail from respectively. The group had argued that giving the South-west the Majority Leader would be against the principle of federal character as the zone had already produced the Deputy Speaker. Hon. Yusuf hails from Ilobu, Osun State in the South-west.

Pressure on Lasun Yusuf…

Then, pressure was being mounted on Hon. Yusuf to resign so that Gbajabiamila could assume the position of House Leader. Meanwhile, Yusuf refused to budge. As late as last Monday, receiving a delegation from his Ilobu Community, under the aegis of the Ilobu Development Union, Abuja Branch, he said he had no plan to step down for anybody. He said he was elected by his colleagues and not appointed. Lasun had said: “Ilobu has been voting for progressives. My community is a big supporter of APC. I am qualified to be the Deputy Speaker because my town contributed immensely to APC victory.

“U can’t reap where you have not sown. 357 members of the House participated in my election and I scored 203 votes to emerge the Deputy Speaker and the election was televised live for the whole world to see”. The lawmaker said his people would be robbed if he resigned. “I was elected into office and not appointed. It will be difficult for APC to say the condition for peace is for me to resign. As far as I am concerned, Ilobu is benefiting from what it has contributed to APC.” The leader of the delegation, Alhaji Olaitan Ahmed, had earlier cautioned those calling on the deputy speaker to resign not to stampede him out of office.

Principal Officers…

In spite of all that, Dogara and his group ate the humble pie to allow peace to reign in the House. It was a masterstroke because in the final resolution of the crisis Gbajabiamila emerged House Leader and Lasun Yusuf still retains his position as Deputy Speaker. Other Principal Officers announced by the Speaker are: Hon. Buba Jubril, Deputy Majority Leader; Minority Leader-Hon. Leo Ogor; Deputy Minority Leader- Yakubu Omar Barde; Chief Whip- Hon. Alhassan Dogwa; Deputy Chief Whip- Pally Iriase; Minority Whip-Binta Bello, and Deputy Minority Whip.

The Actors: Winners and Losers

The Chairman of the House Ad-hoc Committee on Information and former Nigeria Union of Journalists President, Mallam Sanni Zoro, told a national newspaper that: “It was the triumph of democracy, the House is the winner. The House has demonstrated political maturity because politics is about give and take.

He added: “President Buhari is not only a leader but a game changer. Since 1999, past presidents had always installed the leaders of the National Assembly but President Buhari decided not to interfere. There was pressure on him to interfere but he refused. It was only when the crisis got to a critical stage that he intervened. Yet he did not impose his will. The party also did not use force”.

Zoro seems right. The House is the winner. The nation is also a winner because the House can then settle down and do its legislative duties. But other winners are the APC, President Buhari, Speaker Dogara, Gbajabiamila and Lasun Yusuf.


APC: Though the APC anointed Hon. Gbajabiamila as its candidate for the position of Speaker. It lost in that as the pro-Dogara group defeated Gbajabiamila in the June 9 election. But the party later buckled down and insisted that the lawmaker from Lagos State should be the Majority Leader. After all the hue and cry by the pro-Dogara group and the showing and kicking in the House, the party held sway and Gbajabiamila was picked through the intervention of President Buhari.

President Buhari: While the crisis lasted, the President had always insisted on party supremacy and had always backed the party’s position. He put his foot down on this and his intervention proved decisive in resolving the crisis. He is a winner any day.

Speaker Dogara: In a way, House Speaker Dogara is also a winner for coming down from his high horse and agreeing to cede the position of House Leader to Gbajabiamila. Through, he voted for peace and tranquillity in the House as opposed to a prolonged crisis where everybody would be a loser.

Gbajabiamila: Watchers of the House affairs had always reckoned that Gbajabiamila is eminently qualified to lead the House having piloted the affairs of the APC while it was in opposition in the House. The lawmaker is cerebral and a moving encyclopaedia in matters that have to do with the House. He won through his tenacity and his readiness not to settle for any less.

Lasun Yusuf: Having emerged as Deputy Speaker through the majority votes of the House members, he was vehement that he would not abandon his mandate. Come to think of it, Gbajabiamila was first offered the position and he turned it down. Yusuf had insisted he is eminently qualified to hold the position and that his people in Ilobu, Osun State have always voted for the progressives. He also won based on his courage and tenacity.


Pro-Dogara House Members: The losers one can think of are the pro-Dogara House members who threatened fire and brimstone that Gbajabiamila would never be House Leader and who carried on as if the heavens would fall if the Lagos lawmaker, who led the APC through its opposition period, was ever made House Leader. But Gbajabiamila has emerged the Majority Leader and, as they say, the rest is history.

South-east Caucus: Another loser in the House is the South-east caucus. The South-east voted massively for the opposition PDP in the 2015 general election and produced mostly PDP House members. But in the struggle for the House leadership position, the caucus was the first to kick against the emergence of Gbajabiamila as House Leader, saying such would shortchange other zones since the South-west has already produced the Deputy Speaker. In the end, the South-east caucus lost out in the sharing of the principal officers in the House.


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