The crisis rocking Nigeria’s house of representatives took another twist Sunday evening when the sacked chairman of the appropriations committee, Abdulmumuni Jibrin, accused two sitting Governors and three former legislators of undermining his call for probe of Speaker Yakubu Dogara and 12 others.
His words: “After three days of careful observation and receiving information from Nigerians, I discovered a grand plan by two governors and three former house members to provide a soft landing for Dogara and 12 others, give them time to clean up the mess on their desk, destroy whatever evidence in their possession and reach, spread money across members to buy signature of vote of confidence.
“This cabal of two governors and three former members has blocked every avenue that I can use to reach the President so that he can get a different perspective on this issue. I am therefore left with no choice than to plead with all our former Heads of State, Gen Yakubu Gowon, Gen Olusegun Obasanjo, Alh Shehu Shagari, Gen Ibrahim Babangida, Chief Enest Shonekan, Gen Abdulsalam Abubakar and Dr Goodluck Jonathan and the diplomatic community, particularly Ambassador of the United States of America, High Commissioner of the United Kingdom, the German and French Ambassadors and all well-meaning Nigerians to join in the call on the corrupt and fraudulent Speaker Dogara and 3 others to reconvene the House immediately, step aside and allow for a thorough external investigation and also call on the anti-corruption agencies to expedite action on investigation and commencement of prosecution in line with the anti corruption stands of this government.”
Though Jibrin did not mention the governors and the former legislators by name, his ‘revelations’ have kept commentators, especially on social media, busy in trying to unearth who they were. The question now is, can Nigerians apply political intelligence to hazard a guess as to who these people are? Here’s our guess.
The chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Zamfara governor recently survived an impeachment scare following public disagreement with members of the state house of assembly. A former member of the house of representative, Yari was part of those who supported the emergence of both Dogara and Senate President Bukola Saraki during the tussle for the emergence of the leadership of the national assembly. As NGF chairman, Yari holds a powerful position among his colleagues, and is viewed by many to be close to President Muhammadu Buhari. Could he be using his connection as a former member of the house (as alleged by Jibrin), and a powerful Buhari ally, to intervene in the crisis?
While it has not been known if el-Rufai and Dogara are really close politically, two events that happened within the last few days indicate there may be a different perspective to the argument. First, pictures of Dogara and el-Rufai surfaced in the media after an event in Kaduna last Saturday. Reports indicated that the two leaders met briefly even though it was not clear whether they discussed the house crisis. Second, Jibrin mentioned that some governors are using their influence to block him from meeting with the president. The thinking is that if there’s any governor who can be influential enough to do that, it will be either the former FCT Minister or Aminu Masari, governor of Katsina state. El-Rufai is close to Buhari, and his input in some federal government policies is visible.
Masari is the governor of Buhari’s home state of Katsina. He is both close to Buhari, and was a former speaker of the house of representatives. During the tussle for national assembly leadership in June last year, Masari pitched his tent with Buhari and the APC. However, after Dogara emerged against the wish of the party, Masari played a role in ensuring that Dogara accepted the party’s nominees for the remaining positions in the body of principal officers. A move that mended fences between the former, and present speakers.
Ganduje is being considered here largely because of Jibrin’s politics in his native Kano state. A bit of insight here: Jibrin came to the house as one of the leading supporters of Kwankwasiyya movement, led by former Kano governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, now a senator. But after a rift broke out between Kwankwaso and Ganduje – his anointed successor as governor in Kano – Jibrin issued statements to the media to say he was neutral, a position that riled Kwankwaso’s supporters, and was interpreted in some quarters to mean underground support for Ganduje. The evidence for this was that when he stood up to nominate Dogara for the position of speaker ahead of the house election, he did away with his Kwankwasiyya red cap, the group’s most visible symbol of affiliation. Kwankwaso too was not in support of Dogara and Saraki, so Jibrin was deemed to have not only ditched his benefactor, but was claiming neutrality when support for him would have been needed.
But recently, there’s a marked shift in his “underground” anti-Kwankwasiyya stand. In a picture he released to the media on Sunday, Jibrin was seen wearing the red cap, reaffirming his loyalty to Kwankwaso. Could Ganduje, who is still at loggerheads with Kwankwaso, be among the two governors mentioned? If indeed it turned out he is, Jibrin won’t hesitate to name him, ostensibly to please Kwankwaso.
For every five fingers pointed in the direction of governors in support of Dogara in this imbroglio, three will be in the direction of Tambuwal, the immediate-past speaker of the house of representatives. Of all those mentioned above, he is seen as the closest to Dogara, having worked for his emergence against the interest of his known political associates like Femi Gbajabiamila and an APC national leader Bola Tinubu. Even though he has kept his distance from national assembly since Dogara and Saraki’s emergence in 2015, many are of the opinion that he could not possibly abandon a project he put in so much to build. Information from the grapevine however indicate that he may not be on good terms with Dogara, so he would have no reason to interfere in the imbroglio between him and Jibrin. Similarly, Tambuwal cannot possibly be among those Jibrin claimed are spearheading effort to block him from seeing the president. Tambuwal, sources suggest, is not part of Buhari’s inner circle among governors.
Of the three former house of reps members alluded to by Jibrin, one visible ‘suspect’ is Hon Kawu Sumaila, the SSA to the president on national assembly (house of representatives). The former deputy minority leader during Tambuwal’s speakership was by Dogara’s side when he met with the president last Friday. Coincidentally, Sumaila is from Kano and a known opponent of Kwankwaso.