HON. Jide Jimoh is a member of House of Representatives Lagos Mainland Federal Constituency. He is one of the loyalists of All Progressives Congress (APC) against the Speaker’s unilateral decision to select principal officers.
As a matter of fact, he and one other colleague of his at the Green Chambers have gone to court to challenge the Speaker.
He told ENCOMIUM Weekly in this interview that the crisis in the National Assembly is about those pursuing parochial interest against those of them who want the rule of law and party supremacy to prevail.
What is the situation concerning the leadership tussle in the House of Representatives?
The situation remains unresolved.
But some members of your loyalist group came out few days ago to say that the situation has been resolved.
That was a personal agenda of those members. It is nothing but personal agenda and selfish interest of those members. It is for their parochial interest. As far as the loyalists are concerned, we held our meetings today and we resolved to remain as one indivisible group, so that at the end of the day, we will achieve our aims which is going to be in the interest of the entire nation.
But the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Dogara argued in his letter to the party chairman that the party position is against the federal character in the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria and the rules of the House of Representatives. What is your take on this?
Mr. Speaker though is a lawyer but not a judge and therefore, he cannot be a judge in his own case. He cannot interpret the law. It is the court that has the right to interpret any law that is ambiguous. This is the reason why I and one of my colleagues have gone to court to ask for the interpretation of the law on the issue of federal character. As far as I am concerned and based on my understanding, the issue of federal character cannot and should not affect the legislature. The legislature is a separate arm of the government and not an agency of government. The issue of federal character does not and cannot affect the appointment of principal officers of the legislature.
Those positions (principal officers) are meant for the party. It is the party organ that dictates the best way to appoint these officers and our party has done that. The party is supreme.
Dogara has promised to abide by the party principles. He couldn’t have been a member of the House of Representatives without first being a member of the party. The party is the primary foundation with which he got elected into the House, which is the secondary. Without primary there can ever be the secondary.
The Speaker first, is a party man and therefore, cannot go against the party dictates.
The Speaker and his supporters are also saying that the South West which has produced the Deputy Speaker cannot also produce the Majority Leader. Don’t you agree with this argument?
No, I don’t agree with that argument. The 7th Assembly (2011-2015 session) had three of the principal officers of House of Representatives from the North West, in addition to the vice president of the country, heaven did not fall. There is nothing in the rules of the House that says two or three principal officers cannot come from the same geo-political zones. It all depends on the decision of the party and members of the majority party.
Section 60 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has clearly given power to the National Assembly to make its own rules. The rules of the House have become a standing order. Order 7, rules 27 and 37 are very explicit.
Order 7, rule 27 says that the principal position for majority party should be decided by the majority members of the party. That is the principal offices that are meant for APC should be decided by APC members. So, PDP cannot partake in the choice of APC leaders.
Order 7, rule 37 further says that only a party member with cognate experience can be a principal officer of the House. So, what Dogara has done is nothing but a selfish agenda to satisfy his own selfish interest. That cannot work and will not fly.
If we are going to select principal officers, it must be a decision to be taken by all of us (members) of the party. There are 10 principal offices in the House of Representatives, six of these offices belong to the majority party while the remaining four belong to the minority party. The members of the majority party guided by their party will be the ones that will decide their own officers. The same thing goes for the minority party.
Therefore, anyone who decides to go against the dictates of the party should be sanctioned by the party. Dogara as an individual cannot dictate to the party or other members of the party. It is never done anywhere in the whole world.
What is it that some members have against Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila that they don’t want him to be the Majority Leader?
This issue should not be personalized. The issue at hand is not about any person. It is about the institutions, rules of law and laid down process of choosing a principal officer of the House of Representatives. It has nothing to do with Femi Gbajabiamila. It is about the supremacy of party. Anybody who is against the party directives is engaged in legislative terrorism against the party and some of us will not take that.
Some people also argued that the National Assembly crisis is targeted at Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu by people who do not like his growing influence. What is your take on this?
Again, this issue is not about personality or personalities. As I said, it is about institutions, the party and the House of Representatives. It is about the supremacy of the party and the rules that guide the operations of the House of Representatives.
If it is true that those behind the crisis in the National Assembly are those against Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, I wish them luck. The Asiwaju I know is a committed leader who believes in the supremacy of the party. He is also a man who believes in building relationship rather than destroying it. He has contributed in no small measure to the political growth of this country since the Third Republic.
Where were these people when Asiwaju was criss-crossing the whole country to build consensus between warring members of CPC? Where were these people when he was resolving crisis within ANPP members? Where were they when ANPP and CPC were at loggerheads? Where were they when Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was criss-crossing the whole country to ensure that we have a united party known as APC today? Where were they when Tinubu made sure we had a solid and credible primaries and congress all over the country?
Today, we can all see where the party is. From opposition party to the ruling party with our presidential candidate now president of the country.
Today, Bola Tinubu is not the president. He is just a national leader of the party and those who are planning evil against him will never succeed. He will surely triumph over them.
Don’t you think the National Assembly crisis can affect the good image of APC as the ruling party?
What is happening in the National Assembly can never affect President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda for this country. So also the APC agenda. APC agenda is to make life meaningful to Nigerians and to ensure that things change for better.
This has already started. The President has been going around the world to ensure that there is economic growth and security in the country. He has also shown that corruption in government will be a thing of the past. By God’s grace, he will succeed in all his efforts to bring this country back to its lost glory. The president has warned those with personal interest they should bury it in the interest of the country and the generality of the people.
Those causing the crisis in the National Assembly today are doing so because of their own parochial interest which will not augur well for this country and the generality of the people. It will surely fail.
What will happen on Tuesday, July 28, 2015, when the House resumes?
I cannot say what will happen. All I know is that we are all prepared for the resumption. Anything that is against the rules of the House will be rejected vehemently. We will make sure the rule of law prevails in the House. The Speaker cannot dictate to the party members. Dogara is a member of APC like many other members.