BY TORDUE SALEM
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, has described as laughable alleged plot by his colleagues to oust him over their failure to win the tickets of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, at the primaries.
There had been series of meetings by lawmakers believed to be aggrieved.
The meetings, Vanguard learnt, were held with the aim of removing the speaker who, the angry lawmakers think, did not push for return tickets for majority of his colleagues.
But Bankole, through a statement yesterday by his Press Secretary, Mr. Idowu Bakare, said he did his best to push for return tickets for majority of his colleagues and should not be blamed for the unavoidable failure of lawmakers at the primaries.
“It is laughable that the speaker was being blamed for the failure of one man to convince his constituents on the need to return him to the parliament. The speaker has demonstrated his commitment to higher return rate of parliamentarians at all level as a sure way of building capacity for the institution.
“He has taken this campaign to different fora, including meetings with traditional rulers, where he stressed the advantages of returning a lawmaker to the parliament. And even as re-run are on-going, the speaker is not relenting on his preference for building capacity based on a higher return rate, which even now have surpassed the level of the last session,” the statement read.
Another member of the House, Rep. Gbenga Elegbeleye (PDP/Ondo), on his part described the plot by some of his coleagues as baseless and unwarranted.
The lawmaker in an interview with Vanguard yesterday argued that the issue of tickets rest squarely with the parties and the electorate and not with the Speaker.
“The Speaker of the House of Representatives couldn’t have secured tickets for members. I agree there was a meeting of lawmakers with the President and there was some form of agreement on that (return tickets), but to the best of my knowledge, the Speaker has no hand in this. If the President made the promise, then my suggestion is you go for him”, Elegbeleye said.
He called on the aggrieved members to shield their swords against Bankole and identify where the problem is.
The lawmaker also attributed the failure of majority of the lawmakers to secure return tickets, to the meddling of Governors and the failure of the Senate to concur with the amendments to the Electoral Act as passed to it by the House.
“Intervention of Governors, Senators and some other party leaders who promised to give us return tickets, but went round to work against us. When we passed the amendments to the Electoral Act to expand the NEC of parties to include members of the National Assembly, the Senate refused to concur, so we had no choice than to delete it in our version of the Bill,” he said. In his reaction, another member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP from Edo State, who pleaded anonymity said though agreed that there was an earlier meeting with the Presidency, where members of the National Assembly where that at least 60 percent of members will return, the Leadership of the House should be left out of the matter.
“I agree there was a meeting like that. The presidency said something about working for at least 60 percent of members of the National Assembly to return, but you cannot hold him on that, because there are several factors that determine how you get a ticket. You have delegates to contend with and the Party in the state. As for Bankole we cannot blame him for that”, he said.
He, however, added that, “The only thing I can say about him is that he has to work on his style of leadership. Look at the Senate President; he carries his colleagues along. He does not think he knows all. He also carries himself with dignity and humility, that is what is lacking in our own chamber”, he said.
But another lawmaker from Jemaa/Sanga in Kaduna State , Rep. Ado Dogo Audu, who lost a ticket to return to the House, said the plot against Bankole is real.
“Many members are disappointed that the leadership of Bankole did not protect their interests. We know that there are certain meetings some members(of the National Assembly) cannot attend, but he would attend with the President and other leaders of the party, so we expect that he will use that occasion to push for the interests of majority of members”, he said.
The lawmaker, who is the present Chairman, House Committee on Labour & Productivity, also blamed the Vice President and Governor of Kaduna State, Patrick Yakowa for the loss of tickets by majority of members in Kaduna State .
‘There was a meeting we held between all the members from Kaduna State, the Vice President Namadi Sambo and the Governor of Kaduna State, where the VP promised that he will return the members from Kaduna State 100 percent, but to our surprise we were denied the tickets of the PDP at the primaries”, he revealed.