Amid threats of signature collection to remove the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, the Parliamentary Democrats Group at the House on Thursday asked the All Progressives Congress caucus to stop distracting the House with its in-fighting ahead of the 2019 polls.
The PDG is made up of Peoples Democratic Party members and other opposition lawmakers.
A replica of the PDG in the APC is the Parliamentary Support Group, whose primary agenda is the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
A leadership tussle began within the APC caucus lately, pitting the PSG against Gbajabiamila, who leads the main caucus.
On Wednesday, the Coordinator of the PSG, Mr Abdulmumin Jibrin, accused Gbajabiamila of destroying both the APC caucus and the PSG, alleging that Gbajabiamila “selectively” invited lawmakers to a meeting with the National Chairman of the APC, Mr Adams Oshiomhole.
On these grounds, the lawmaker stated that members were signing to remove Gbajabiamila and get a replacement for him from the South-West by September 25.
Jibrin, a former chairman, House Committee on Appropriations, claimed that Gbajabiamila aspired to become the Speaker and that his meeting with Oshiomhole was part of plans to effect the impeachment of the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara.
Dogara is feared to have concluded plan to defect from the APC, though his next destination remains in the realm of conjecture.
A report on Thursday quoted text messages Jibin sent to members of the APC groups, laying out Gbajabiamila’s alleged offences.
He wrote, “How can the House leader claim that there is one APC caucus when it is a known fact that invitations to caucus meetings are selective?
“We all know that many of us were not notified/invited to the last caucus meeting with the National Chairman for reasons best known to him.
“We want to make it categorically clear to Hon. Femi (Gbajabiamila) that he has not demonstrated uprightness, fairness, equity and justice.”
He added, “He has failed to carry everyone along and so some of us cannot trust and follow him as the leader of our caucus. We will announce our own leader on resumption.
“We will pick a competent member from the South-West to lead us. There are many of them in the House. Everything from South-West mustn’t go to Femi.
“We will meet the national chairman and Asiwaju (Bola Tinubu) to lay our case.”
Further accusing Gbajabiamila of nursing a personal ambition and plotting to destroy the PSG, Jibrin wrote, “We will not allow anybody to take advantage of our caucus and his so-called support for our party and Buhari to foster his personal ambition. He has never stood for the party or the President except when he wants to advance his personal ambition. It is time to give others from the South-West the opportunity.
“The inclusion and exclusion style of Hon. Femi has inflicted collateral damage on the unity of our caucus which has resulted in the present factions. And it is time to deal with it before he destroys our party.
“After making spirited, but failed attempts through subterranean means to destroy the Parliamentary Support Group, he has factionalised the APC. Is that how he wants to lead?”
Reacting to the conflict within the APC on Thursday, the PDG warned that the APC should not allow it to affect the general operations of the House.
The Spokesman for the PDG, Mr Timothy Golu, in a statement, also advised the APC not to nurse any ambition to impeach Dogara.
The group stated, “We believe it is the aftermath of the gale of defections that had hit the party in recent times, of which more is being expected. In as much as we will not delve into their personal caucus matters, any issue that concerns the larger House will not cease to get our attention, especially the accusation by one group that another group is contemplating the impeachment of the speaker.”
The PSG added that its members expected that the issue of leadership tussle in the APC should be resolved amicably within the APC and not to spread to the whole House.
Golu explained further, “We want to warn that such discussions should start and end at the APC secretariat or the secretariats of the various APC house groups.
“We are keeping our eyes and ears wide open for any such eventuality and to restate our readiness to return fire-for-fire on anyone thinking of it.
“If they claim that someone is thinking of becoming speaker in 2019 when the tenure has not ended, it will not be out of place to suspect such motives, especially when the same people have been talking strongly on the urgent need to address critical legislative issues.”
For the second time on Thursday, Gbajabiamila again refused to address the issues raised by Jibrin in his text messages, when newsmen sought his reactions.
The usually vocal Lagos lawyer declined to talk.
Responding to an enquiry, he simply stated, “Again, I have no comments.”
Earlier on Wednesday when Gbajabiamila was contacted, he had said, “No comments.”
Jibrin too did not respond to enquiries on Thursday, neither did he pick his calls nor answer the text messages sent to him by newsmen.
The Chief Whip of the House, Mr Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, had on Thursday, dismissed any plans to remove Gbajabiamila or impeach Dogara.
However, he admitted that there was a crack in the Buhari support groups, owing to leadership tussle.
“The only problem I know with Buhari/Parliamentary Support Group is about its protem leadership, which resulted in a slight leadership tussle between Hon. Musa Sarkin Adar as its chairman or chief coordinator, and another contender.
“But we are working to resolve that very soon, such that we will not allow leadership issues to defeat the good motive for which the group was set up”, Ado-Doguwa said.