- Threaten to impeach president
- Speaker turns up at the House, Adeola-Akande distances self from adjourned sitting
Omololu Ogunmade and Muhammad Bello in Abuja
President Goodluck Jonathan’s stranglehold on the Senate appears to have finally been broken as the upper legislative chamber on Tuesday declared support for last week’s defection of the Speaker of the House of Representatives Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The Senate also vowed to team up with the House to impeach the president if doing so eventually becomes an option the National Assembly has to explore.
This decision was the fallout of the closed-door session held by the PDP caucus in the Senate in protest of their losses at last Saturday’s congresses of the ruling party in their various states.
Most of the senators lost out because of the alleged betrayal by the president whom they said they had supported to the hilt prior to his emergence as acting president on February 9, 2009 up to this last weekend.
Demonstrating their bitterness towards the president, the senators shut down the Senate as they boycotted legislative activities by adjourning sitting without considering a single item on the Order Paper.
Although plenary was adjourned till Wednesday, the senators also vowed to repeat the same action today, threatening that the trend would continue indefinitely until the president addressed their grievances.
The action is, among others, meant to frustrate the consideration and prompt passage of the 2015 budget and Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), as they threatened to also shut down the government in pursuit of their personal goals.
After the meeting, one of the senators assigned to brief journalists on its outcome, said with their resolve to abandon legislative business indefinitely, the president is not only losing the House of Representatives but has also lost the Senate, his hitherto stronghold.
He said: “You are aware that we adjourned sitting today. That is what we will continue to do. President Goodluck Jonathan has lost the Senate. Since he has left the PDP structures in the hands of the governors, let the governors also come and do our jobs. We are going to shut the government.
“What is it that the president asked that we’ve not given to him? We are going to show solidarity with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal. We will not sit again. There will be no consideration of the MTEF (Medium Term Expenditure Framework) and there will be no budget. We may also begin his impeachment.
“When we invoked the doctrine of necessity, we even proceeded to give him the full option. We did the same thing on the state of emergency. But now, he has lost the Senate. By the time the House of Representatives resumes on December 3, most of the PDP members in the House would have lost their return bids and they will quickly move to APC and populate the party.”
Tuesday’s session was presided over by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, while the Senate President David Mark was attending the National Council of State meeting at the Presidential Villa.
However, the senators who said they had the full backing of their APC counterparts in their resolve to shut down the chamber, added that if Mark opts to stall the move, he would have to be abandoned and be left to preside over an empty chamber.
According to him, following the handover of PDP structures to the governors and PDP senators stripped of return tickets, their political careers had been ruined while those of the governors had again been brightened, insisting that the governors preferred by the president should also be deployed to legislate for his government.
The drama started after the chamber had adopted votes and proceedings for Tuesday, October 28. Thereafter, Ekweremadu read a letter addressed to Mark by the president, imploring the Senate to confirm one Okwu Joseph Nnanna as a Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, who is one of those who reportedly lost out at the ward congress in his home state, Cross River, immediately moved the motion that all items on the Order Paper be stood down and sitting adjourned till Wednesday to enable them attend a caucus meeting of PDP senators.
While watchers expected stiff opposition to the motion from APC senators, as had been the case, they were shocked to see that the motion was passed; unknown to spectators that both groups were altogether acting a script.
With the speaker’s retention of his seat and position gaining traction in the National Assembly, Tambuwal on Tuesday made a sudden appearance in the precinct of the House.
He appeared in his trademark white attire at the formal declaration of a one-day public hearing on a “Bill for an Act to Repeal the Audit Act of 1956 and Re-enact the Audit Act of 2014”.
After delivering his opening address, he took his leave and did not respond to waiting journalists who besieged him.
Before he departed the venue of the hearing, Tambuwal harped on the constitutional responsibility of the legislators, which is making laws to ensure that there is good governance.
“As parliamentarians, it is our constitutional mandate to make laws for the peace and the good governance of the country. The legal mandate to make laws does not necessarily guaranty the making of good laws,” he said.
He explained that in order to accomplish this task, “it is necessary for parliament to consult with all the stakeholders, relevant experts and the general public”.
“Besides, it is not enough for us as parliamentarians to follow the constitutional procedures and processes of enacting laws. As theâ€¨peoples’ representatives, it is necessary that laws enacted by the National Assembly are not only valid but legitimate as well.
“It is the general acceptance by you the members of the public of the laws enacted by us that confer the status of the legitimacy on such laws. This aspect of law making cannot be ignored by any responsibleâ€¨parliament,” he said.
He threw posers about the definition, purpose and consistency of the bill with the purpose and provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
In his welcome address, Chairman of the House Public Affairs Committee (PAC), Solomon Adeola Olamilekan (APC, Lagos), said the extant Audit Act 1958 “is one of those old legislations bequeathed to us by the colonial masters”.
He observed that with the advent of technology and information dissemination, it is no longer adequate, thus the need to “repeal and re-enact” it in order to make it “more functional and relevant to our times”.
Meanwhile, House Leader, Hon. Mulikat Adeola-Akande, tuesday debunked insinuations that she colluded with the leadership to adjourn sitting till December 3.
Adeola-Akande, who said she only moved the motion for adjournment in fulfillment of her role as the leader of the House, explained that she was not told that Tambuwal was going to defect on¨that day.
According to her, even as the plenary was in session, she asked her deputy, Hon. Leo Ogor (PDP, Delta), whether it was true that the speaker was going to defect, but he told her, “I want to listen to what the person who is on the floor is saying.”
She explained that although she had learnt of the speaker’s intention to defect in the media, nobody had told her anything.
According to her, “I turned to my deputy and said, Leo, is the speaker not moving again? And he said he was not doing it again. That was what he told me. And I am saying this without fear of anybody.”
She narrated that a day before the Speaker’s defection, a meeting was summoned at his residence, to which she promptly responded. But on getting there, she discovered that other principal officers were yet to arrive, so she left.
After her departure, she said she got several calls from the speaker and deputy speaker to return to the residence for the meeting, which she reluctantly accepted as she was tired.
At the meeting, Adeola-Akande said the issue of the House’s adjournment was discussed and it was agreed that the House would adjourn for two weeks in the first instance.
But the House leader said she was taken aback the next day when at plenary a different scenario emerged.
“We went into the order of the day and nothing was said about whether the speaker was moving or not. At the meeting we had, nothing was said about that. Nothing was mentioned on whether he was moving or not even though it was in the air, in the media, and everybody was talking about it,” the House leader stated.
She expressed dismay that afterwards she heard from different quarters that “unilaterally” the speaker moved the motion for adjournment.
“I thought it was necessary to clear the air on this. I have integrity and I am a very, very honourable person. And I will not say anything that has not happened,” she said.