For Hon. Dogara, the fight could not be finished - By Bernard Doro
There was jubilee in House of Representatives on July 29th, an elated newly appointed majority leader, and the air filled with chants: Dogara is a leader and a hero. The peace that eluded the house since June 8th finally returned. The speaker was swayed to enforce the will of the almighty and powerfully vested external interests. Gbajabiamila is made the majority leader of the house. The main culprits are independence of the lower house and federal character. Those who believed and supported the speaker's previous course of action both within and outside the house are left in limbo. The sermon on 'Federal Character' has been jettisoned. The independence of the lower house has been severely diminished. The mantra is now party supremacy. The speaker's opponents will say if he had given in once why not the second time and subsequently. Where does this flip-flop leaves the honourable speaker?
Understood, it's difficult to differ with a popular president who enjoys tremendous goodwill and trust of the citizenry. It's more difficult to fight those who have mastered the art of political gamesmanship. In one of my features titled "For The Rt Hon. Yakubu Dogara, it’s a fight to finish", I pointed out to the speaker that to sustain the independence of the legislature, it would require commitment, sacrifice and an ability to withstand intimidation and bullying. On this occasion, Hon. Dogara has veered and this may not present a good outlook for the rough terrain ahead - checking executive excesses will require more than the intrigues that characterised the appointments of the house Leadership. Can we now trust the honourable speaker to lead an emboldened house, ready to assert its independence for the benefit of Nigerians? We hold our breath in anticipation.
In this game you learn to pick your fights. However, when you pick one and it's for the good of the public then fight to finish. Why get into a fight you are not prepared to finish? Doing so has a tendency to diminish and present the actor as a weakling. The speaker, in his letter to the APC national leadership, gave well-articulated and sound reasons as to why he declined to follow the party line. Hon. Dogara said "we feel strongly, that the issue of federal character in the election or appointment of principal officers of the House is a cardinal legal, moral and constitutional principle that should be respected by our party. It is however obvious from the letter under reference that this principle was not taken into consideration. This will totally and unfairly exclude the South East and North Central Zones in the distribution of these political offices and lead to undue concentration of some offices in the South West and North East Zones of Nigeria". What has changed the speaker's resolve? I'm afraid the honourable speaker has given his teaming supporters a negative impression by this action. More so that no official explanation has been offered for this reversal of principles.
I hope this flip-flop is not a sign of things to come in the 8th assembly - wherein the Federal House lacks the necessary courage and independence to ensure the oversight of the executive arm of government. The vibrancy of the House of Representatives, hitherto, has contributed immensely to the entrenchment of democratic culture at the federal level. It would be saddening to reenact at the federal tier, the lacklustre legislative activities which has crippled most states in the country. This has become imperative as most of the principal officers of the 8th assembly owe their positions to the executive arm and other external forces. After-all he who pays the piper dictates the tune. Gbajabiamila is quoted in Premium Times of the 31st of July 2015 as saying: "Buhari, APC insisted I be Majority Leader". A situation where the executive determine the personnel of the legislature runs contrary to the long standing principle of separation of powers. One only hopes that the honourable speaker rediscover himself and lead a house that will help legislate for the betterment of ordinary Nigerians.
Nigerians yearn for purposeful leadership in the National Assembly to ensure that the principle of checks and balances in governance is held sacrosanct. Our support for the Hon. Speaker is unrelenting but we will continue to be his tough friends.