The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara was on Tuesday absent as the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Working Committee (NWC) met with the caucus of the National Assembly members to discuss issues rocking the Red Chambers.
The development came just as Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, argued that the National Assembly must reconvene immediately for the sake of national interest.
The meeting attended by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuff Lasun, Gbajabiamila, Majority Leader in the Senate, Senator Ahmed Lawan also had 56 Senators and about 194 members of the House of Representatives in attendance.
The National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole insisted that the party has the majority seats in the National Assembly, saying that in a democratic set-up, the minority have the right to say, while the majority has their way.
The APC National Chairman also said that if the party has 56 Senators and the major opposition party Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has 49, the 49 Senators cannot preside over the affairs of a house dominated by the ruling party.
Oshiomhole at the meeting held at the Sheraton Hotels and Towers in Abuja on Tuesday said: “Democracy teaches us that minority has the right to have their say but majority must have their way.
So, if we have 56 senators and they have 49 senators, I insist that 49 senators cannot preside over the affairs of a house in which APC has 56 senators. And I ask them to tell us anywhere in the world where minority rules over majority”.
Oshiomhole said, “Often times, we take flights to Washington and other places to understudy their system of government, once you lose majority, without further ado, you step down.
“All these stories about illegal impeachment, let me restate that we cannot be subjected to minority rule in the Nigerian Senate therefore, whether it is convenient for Senator Saraki or not, the truth is whether by morality or by law or by convention, he can only avoid impeachment by toeing the path of honour, step down so that the APC can take over the leadership of the House.
“So, I want to repeat, Senator Saraki as President of the Senate will be lawfully and democratically impeached. It will not be illegally done. It will be done according to law and tradition.
Those lawyers who have chosen to sit as judges, we need to remind them that lawyers are at best, officers of the court; they do not constitute the court.
So, when he is lawfully and democratically impeached, they will be free to go to anywhere they want to go and canvass the legality or the illegality of the action. It is not in their place to pronounce with finality as if they constitute the judicial arm of government.
“I am also happy that just recently, when our party went to court to challenge the bill that was under consideration in the National Assembly with regards to order of elections where the court held that based on the principles of separation of powers, that the court cannot stop the legislature from exercising their independence.
But when they have so exercised their independence and make a law or a decision, now the legality of that decision as it relates to the constitution can be challenged in the court.
So, all those who are wasting their time believing that they can go and file spurious cases in various types of courts so that they can in turn wrongly hang on it to purport that the matter is in court and therefore the senate cannot exercise their fundamental right to determine their leadership, they need to read carefully that judgment by the Court of Appeal.
“This morning I saw some people saying they are going to court to stop the senate president from being impeached. That will be an exercise in futility because the court cannot impose on the senate who leads them.
It is at the discretion of the senate to determine who rules them. As governing party, I want to reassure the Nigerian people that we are committed to leading by example and that means absolute submission and obedience to the letters and spirit of the Nigerian Constitution and everything we will do, we will ensure that it is done according to law including the impeachment of Senator Bukola Saraki”.
In his remarks, Gbajabiamila noted that the House must reconvene so that there will be no constitutional crisis and an inevitable government.
He said: “We have to find a way of reconvening the Assembly because we are heading for a constitutional crisis and an inevitable government shut down; two things that need to be done if the budget for the election and the funding of the capital project and without the approval, that will be difficult.
I was with the Minister of Finance a couple of weeks ago and she told me in no uncertain terms that if she does not get the necessary approval from the National Assembly by end of August, we should forget funding for the capital budget.
“That is why I said it is a task that must be done. I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the Presiding Officers to allow us reconvene the House for this singular purpose. It is just a one day exercise, so that we can all go on our break”.
In his contribution, Lasun said he was not happy that the House did not reconvene on Tuesday, adding that, “we decided few days back that we are going to sit and consider those items that are very important and may likely hamper the function of INEC and other programmes without which the implementation of the capital component of the 2018 budget would have been slightly difficult”.
Senator Lawan pointed out that this has been a season of defection, reflection and sacrifices with some colleagues sacrificing friendship to remain where they are and to do what exactly the party wants.
He said it is also a season of regrets because some of our people who left have already seen the real sign. Already those who have left are not finding it easy in their new homes saying that; “Every senator and House of Representatives member in the APC fold today deserves gentle handling and good treatment.
“That means that, as you have promised and we have seen the signs already, the party will ensure that all issues in contention are resolved and in good time.
Very soon we will be facing the primaries and so, I think that between now and end of the month is a very good time to resolve all the individual cases that are outstanding so that our colleagues will see and continue to feel that loyalty pays and disloyalty doesn’t.
“This meeting would have held with our governors present, but that is not to be. It is our prayer that you find an alternative arrangement so that we all understand that we are in this together regardless of whether you are in the National Assembly or in the state.
This party needs to be united and need to deliver to Nigerians what we have promised. It is not possible for any part of this party to succeed without the other side. So, we need ourselves to be together”, Lawan added.