Some members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) caucus in the House of Representatives have criticised their leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, over an interview he had with PREMIUM TIMES.
In the interview published on Tuesday, Mr Gbajabiamila said APC has only one group in the House, dismissing suggestion of the existence of various groups of loyalists of President Muhammadu Buhari within the caucus.
This statement, it was gathered, angered members of the Pro-Buhari groups.
Aside the main caucus led by Mr Gbajabiamila as House Leader; there are two other groups, the Parliamentary Support Group coordinated by Abdulmumin Jibrin from Kano State; and another headed by a lawmaker from Sokoto State, Musa Sarkin-Ada.
All three groups proclaim to be loyalists of Mr Buhari and have committed themselves to the agenda of ensuring his re-election in 2019.
Some of the lawmakers, however, claimed Mr Gbajabiamila was plotting the removal of the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, merely to pave the way for him to emerge as speaker.
Angered by his statement in the interview, PREMIUM TIMES learnt that Mr Jibrin has begun circulating text messages to members of his own group for the removal of Mr. Gbajabiamila as House Leader.
Mr Jibrin was the arrowhead of the successful campaign for the election of Mr Dogara as Speaker in 2015 against the recommendation of the APC, until he fell out with the Speaker over alleged padding of the 2016 budget.
One of his text message to members seen by this newspaper read, “Hon Colleagues, I urge you to remain calm in the face of attempt to undermine our efforts by Hon Femi Gbajabiamila and Sarki Adar whose only interest is to install Femi as Speaker and instigate crisis in the house. We have repeatedly asked them to leave us alone in the PSG and return to the loyalist group where they proved their incompetence and killed the group. We remain resolute in our support for PMB and unity of the House of Representatives. In the next few days, we will decide if Femi will continue to be the House Leader as there are many competent members from South West that can perform better.”
Another text message Mr. Jibrin circulated to APC members in the early hours of Wednesday reads:.
“A honourable colleague forwarded this interview to me by house leader Hon Femi. How can the House leader claim that there is one APC caucus when it is a known fact that invitation 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 that he has not demonstrated uprightness, fairness, equity and justice and failed to carry everyone along and so some of us can not trust and follow him as 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 to lay our case.
“We will not allow anybody to take advantage of our caucus and his so called support for our party and PMB to foster his personal ambition. He have never stood for the party or president except when he wants to advance his personal ambition. It is time to give others from the south west opportunity. The inclusion and exclusion style of Hon Femi has inflicted collateral damage to the unity of our caucus which has resulted to the present faction. 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 and that is how he wants to lead?”
Messrs Gbajabiamila and Jibrin were not available to respond to PREMIUM TIMES as they are said to be out of the country.
However, an APC lawmaker who does not want his name disclosed stated that the crisis had nothing to do with the Speaker, saying the lawmakers main grouse was Mr Gbajabiamila’s disregard for the various groups.
He added that the lawmakers have the right to choose their leader.
“If we want to change our leader, it is purely our business, there is no big deal,” the lawmaker said.