Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara is making frantic moves to retain his seat when the 9th National Assembly will be inaugurated in June this year, Daily Trust has learnt.
Dogara’s moves, it was learnt, are coming despite the fact that he is now a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The PDP, so far, has a little over 100 reps-elect against the 220 seats of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Although the constitution does not restrict any leadership position in the National Assembly to the party with majority, the tradition has been for such a party to produce the leadership since it has the required numbers to do so.
Dogara became speaker on June 9, 2015 under APC, defying the party’s decision for current House Leader Femi Gbajabiamila to be elected as speaker. Dogara scored 182 votes to Gbajabiamila’s 174 votes, while four votes were void
In emerging, Dogara joined forces with some APC members at the time along with PDP lawmakers, who gave him overwhelming support. The APC had 213 members at the time, while PDP had about 140 lawmakers.
However, the speaker dumped the APC for PDP late last year, few days to the PDP primaries for National Assembly seats.
Sources told Daily Trust yesterday that despite being critical of the APC government at both his native state of Bauchi and the federal level, Dogara is now making efforts to break the ranks of the APC members, especially returning lawmakers, to retain the speaker’s seat.
However, it was learnt that most of the returning APC lawmakers that supported him in 2015, including some from the PDP, are not ready to support him.
An APC member, who was a staunch Dogara supporter in 2015, said: “We’re very much aware that he wants to recontest for the speaker’s seat.
“He wants to break the ranks of the APC members, just the way he used some of us to become speaker. But we supported him in 2015 because we all belonged to the same party then.
“This time around, he won’t get that support from us, because apart from leaving the APC that made him speaker, he has been one of those attacking our government. We can’t support such a person. Besides, Dogara would have wished PDP to form majority. So, why should we support him?” the lawmaker said.
Another lawmaker, who supported Dogara four years ago, confirmed Dogara’s readiness to recontest for the seat.
“He wants to see the final figures across party lines first. His initial thought was that the margin wouldn’t be more than 10 or 20, but as it is now, the margin is getting to 100. But his new plan now is to break our ranks no matter what. He won’t succeed this time around,” the lawmaker said.
A third lawmaker, who did not want to be named, noted that Dogara could not reap where he did not sow, noting that they would ensure that nobody would break the ranks of APC members.
“He can’t insult our government here and there only for him to turn around and demand for our support. No way. We won’t allow any such thing to happen. We only supported him last time because we were in the same party.
“Let me tell you, even some PDP members won’t support him. I know of two PDP members that called me after the elections and said they learnt Dogara wants to recontest but that they won’t back him,” the lawmaker, who pleaded anonymity, said.
Yet another member, who also got re-elected, said ab initio, he did not support Dogara’s emergence as speaker and he did not see any reason why he should change that decision, especially now that the speaker is in another party.
“The party must be firm this time around so that we won’t have any dissidents among us. But the truth of the matter is that no member will stick his neck out for the opposition because of the way APC stood for all of us, both returning and new members,” the lawmaker said.
Our correspondent reports that some of the APC lawmakers that supported Dogara in 2015 are now in the race for the speaker’s seat.
Mohammed Umar Bago, Ahmed Idris Wase, Babangida Ibrahim and Abdulrazak Namdas from Niger, Plateau, Katsina and Adamawa states respectively had in 2015 supported Dogara to emerge speaker. But all of them are now eyeing the Number 4 Citizen’s seat.
Other major contenders for the seat in the coming 9th Assembly are Gbajabiamila and Mohammed Tahir Monguno, who contested for the speaker and Deputy Speaker in 2015 but lost to Dogara and Yussuf Suleimon Lasun respectively.
Contacted, Dogara’s Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs Turaki Hassan said the speaker was concentrating on achieving the Legislative Agenda of the 8th House and that he should be allowed to concentrate on that.
“The life of the current House still lasts for the next three months and there are many pending issues before the House which need urgent legislative attention including the 2019 Appropriations Bill.
“The Rt. Hon. Speaker is concentrating in accomplishing all he promised in the Legislative Agenda of the House of Representatives. Who becomes what in the 9th House of Representatives is not the concern or business of the current Speaker, Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara. You should please spare him from these unfounded speculations.”
However, a close ally to the speaker told Daily Trust on telephone that the speaker will give the seat a trial for a second time.
“The calculation is that PDP may get appreciable numbers, while some APC members may go against the party just the way they did last time. So, we’re keeping hope alive,” the speaker’s ally said.
From the results of the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections, many Dogara loyalists in the APC and PDP are not returning to the 9th Assembly.
Over 30 of them are not returning to the House. They include Jagaba Adams Jagaba, Sunday Marshal Katung, Joseph Akinlaja, Abdussamad Dasuki, Kabiru Marafa Achida, Aminu Shehu Shagari, Sunday Karimi, Emmanuel Egwu, Hassan Omale, Benjamin Okolo and Emmanuel Yisa Orker-Jev.
Emmanuel Udende, Ezekiel Adaji, Edward Pwajok, Istifanus Gyang, John bull Shekarau, Abubakar Amuda-Kanike, Razak Atunwa, Zakari Mohammed, Aliyu Hamman-Pategi, David Ombugadu, Mohammed Onawo, Betty Apiafi, Evelyn Oboro, among many others.