Defections: The Dilemma Of Yakubu Dogara
By PAUL UWADIMA
When the All Progressives Congress (APC) Caucus of the House of Representatives met recently amid the gale of defections in the country and the urgent need to reconvene the National Assembly to approve the supplementary budget requested by President Muhammadu Buhari for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies, preparatory for the 2019 general elections, it was Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Sulaimon Lasun, who spoke to the media after the meeting. It suggests that Lasun is now the highest-ranking APC lawmaker in the House of Representatives. Lasun spoke with the authority of a leader of the Caucus because, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara was conspicuously absent. Instead of being with his APC colleagues, he was seen sitting beside the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki in a ‘World Press Conference.’ Even though he did not say a word, but his presence and even his silence was discernibly loud. It reminds one of Alison Krauss singing, “you say it best when you say nothing at all…” from the lyrics of her hit song, “When You Say Nothing At All”. As a matter of fact it seems saying nothing at all, especially on whether he is still an APC House of Representatives member or now a member of the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is his strategy to dig in his heels and remain as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Perhaps his prevarication has for the moment saved him from acerbic attack of the national chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who has expressed the determination of the party to recover the ‘family’s crown’ which, Senate President Bukola Saraki took to the Peoples Democratic Party when he defected recently. But how long can Dogara hold on? He is from Bauchi State where his hold on political structures are hindered by several factors, unlike the Senate President Bukola Saraki who seems to have the political structures in Kwara State in his pockets “like nickels and diamonds”.
In Kwara, Saraki is like the keeper of the only well in town, he chooses who can draw water from the well. Providence has not given Dogara that privilege. And if the recent by-election in Bauchi State where the people of his constituency voted overwhelmingly for the APC is anything to go by, it is obvious defecting to the PDP may do irreparable damage to his flourishing career as a lawmaker. Dogara’s problem is made much difficult because he is yet to reconcile with the governor of Bauchi State, Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, who is widely known for his antagonistic relationship with most Senators and House of Representatives members from the state, leading to some of them defecting to PDP. All efforts by the elders of the APC in Bauchi State and other stakeholders to reconcile the governor with the Abuja lawmakers ended in futility. Without the governor’s support, especially given the hold of political parties’ structures by incumbent governors, it remains to be seen how Dogara can get ticket for 2019 elections if he chooses to stay in APC. And if Dogara remains in APC, especially given his closeness to Saraki, will he be able to regain the confidence of the party or will they forever be suspicious of him? His situation is not helped by the fact that there are those who want him out. These guys have been relatively quiet, biding their time, while they strategise how to dispense with the big fish first. They reckon that whenever Saraki is out of the way, Dogara will pose less of a challenge. It would be recalled that like Saraki, Dogara became the Speaker of the House of Representatives against the wishes of the leadership of the APC, especially its national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was said to have preferred Femi Gbajabiamila as the Speaker. One does not need to be expert in reading body language to see the way the lawmaker from Lagos has been presenting himself as a man ready to assume leadership of the House if Dogara eventually defects and he is impeached.
The Bauchi lawmaker’s retention of his seat or his feared impeachment is a problem that only him can handle. Whether to swim in shark and crocodile-infested waters or otherwise will be his call to make. He may have to choose between Buhari and Saraki. However, one thing going for Dogara is that he has made it clear severally that he is an admirer and supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari. Since they say that “all politics is local”, the solution to Dogara’s problem is located in Bauchi. He is having political differences with the Bauchi State governor, like many other lawmakers from the state. It seems that if all had been well between Dogara and the governor, he would have had no reason to contemplate defection to PDP as being alleged or entangle himself with the Saraki brouhaha. President Muhammadu Buhari’s intervention may be necessary to ensure that Dogara stays with the APC. This is because from the way the Bauchi governor reacts to his ‘quarrel’ with Dogara and others, only the President, can prevail on him to forget the past and move on. –
Uwadima is a journalist and reseacher