The crisis over who occupied the position of principal officers in the National Assembly among members of the majority All Progressives Congress, APC boiled over in the House of Representatives on Thursday as lawmakers who were held back from engaging in fisticuffs disrupted the plenary, virtually holding Yakubu Dogara, the Speaker hostage on his seat for over an hour.
In the ensuing confusion which started immediately the plenary commenced, some lawmakers, believed to be opposed to the emergence of Dogara as the Speaker had attempted to hijack the mace, but were unsuccessful.
It was gathered that the mace was subsequently smuggled into the inner office of the Speaker by security men.
In the confusion which lasted more than an hour, the pro Speaker lawmakers were shouting, “Dogara, Dogara,” while those supporting the position of APC on the allocation of the position of the principal officers were shouting “on party supremacy we stand.”
However, supporters of the Speaker swiftly moved to form a ring around him even as he remained on his seat, occasionally consulting with some members while the confusion lasted.
While some lawmakers remained glued to their seats while the confusion lasted, others were on their feet, shuffling and shouting at each other.
It was gathered that the House was scheduled to decide on those to occupy the position of the principal officers during the Thursday’s plenary.
The Speaker appealed for unity among members after order was restored after the over one hour confusion as he emphasized that Nigerians expect so much from the National Assembly.
He promptly adjourned the plenary to 21 July. The leadership of APC had in a letter to Dogara proposed Femi Gbajabiamila who was defeated by Dogara in the June 9 election, as house leader, Alhassan Doguwa, as the deputy house leader, Mohammed Monguno as chief whip and Pally Iriase deputy chief whip.
Dogara however failed to read the letter during the plenary. It was not clear if the Speaker had intended to read the letter before the fracas that broke out in the House on Thursday.
Some lawmakers who are in support of the party’s position had walked out of the chamber before order was restored.
But some lawmakers, especially those who supported Dogara to emerge Speaker in defiance of the preference of APC had opposed the nomination from the party.
The North-central and the Southeast caucuses of APC had yesterday rejected the zoning of the offices as proposed in the letter by the party national chairman.
The two caucuses had at a press conference in Abuja decried the exclusion of their zones from the principal positions of the house.
Ahman Pategi who spoke for the north-central APC caucus noted that the directive of the party to the leadership of the house to take necessary action on the purported choice made by the party, which we see as a clear usurpation of the powers of the zonal caucuses and their members as guaranteed by the constitution and the standing rules of the house of representatives.
He added that the north-central caucus “believes that there should be fairness and equity in the selection of other principal positions of the House of Representatives following the emergence of both the speaker and deputy speaker.”
Also, Austin Chukwukere from Imo state, on behalf of the southeast caucus of the APC in the house, said if the southeast was not involved in the appointment of principal officers, it would not be able to serve the party.