The two-member South East caucus of the All Progressives Congress in the House of Representatives has condemned the alleged attempt to “marginalise” them by lawmakers loyal to the leadership of the party.
In a July 20 letter to the APC leadership, the party’s loyalists who are supporting the emergence of Femi Gbajabiamila as the majority leader, argued that the two APC lawmakers from the South East are in the House for the first time and are thus “inexperienced” to clinch principal positions of the House, citing precedents and standing rules.
However, in their reply signed by Austin Chukwukere, they said the position of the group “is full of distortions, misstatements, deliberate mischief, exhibition of ignorance of the law, practices and precedents of the House, and in some instances outright falsehood”.
“We are making this response because the statement referred to above has singled out the South East Zone for special treatment and marginalization. That is why we consider it necessary, once again to restate the relevant facts and correct obvious and intentional distortion of facts and truth.
“The argument that the South East Zone produced only two “new” members, who do not have cognate legislative experience and therefore not entitled to be represented in the principal officer’s cadre of the House is most inaccurate and unfortunate.
“In the first place, any person acquainted with the rules and practice of the House knows that a new member is regarded as having “cognate legislative experience” immediately he is sworn in as a Member as it is only new members – elect that are affected by the rule.
“Secondly, established precedents in the Senate and House of Representatives show consistent respect for zonal representation in the election of principal officers, even when there are only a few from a zone. It is as a result of this, that the 7th Senate, elected Senator Ayoola Hosea Agboola, Deputy Chief Whip, even though he was ‘new’ and the only Member from his party from the South West. Furthermore, in the 7th House of Representatives, Hon Mulikat Akande, was made House Leader even though she was one of only five members from her party from her zone.
“Even only recently, in the 8th Senate, Senator Francis Alimikhena, from the South South has been made Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, a principal officer, even though he is a ‘new’ member and the only member of APC from the South South.”
They told the APC leadership that zoning a principal position of the House would serve the purpose of “encouragement in order to establish the Party more firmly for future elector purposes”.
On the pending court case in respect of the principal positions of the House, they said, “It is only a fair and equitable resolution of this matter in the manner suggested by the Hon Speaker, Etc.”
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