By EMMAN OVUAKPORIE
For the House of Representatives, the last one year has been a potpourri of remarkable success as seen in the insistence of the members to elect their presiding officers against the wishes of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) apparatchik.
IN the beginning
THE Seventh Assembly took off on a cautious note in June this year, promising Nigerians that it was going to be business unusual considering the plethora of not too sweet stories that characterised the Sixth Assembly.
The Dimeji Bankole led Sixth House of Representatives left a soar taste that is still lingering.
In addition, the zoning issue that greeted the new leadership of the House led to an initial slow pace of activities in the lower chamber of the National Assembly. However, the more surprising news in 2011, were allegations of graft leveled against the leadership of the House.
This centred on claims that the then leadership had obtained N10billion loan without following due process, which eventually led to the arrest of the Speaker and his Deputy by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Despite this development, the anointed one by the Bankole leadership, Aminu Tambuwal still emerged as the Speaker. But Tambuwal’s emergence did not happen without the support of lawmakers from other opposition parties. Even though the new leadership emerged through the overwhelming support of most lawmakers, the PDP, frowned at it because it was believed to have rubbished its zoning formula.
Hence, the speakership of the Sokoto-born lawmaker, was regarded as an anti-party development, which must be corrected. But Tambuwal supporters also rubbished that position, claiming that what they wanted was a Speaker, who make the House truly independent.
It was against this backdrop that a lawmaker Zakari Mohammed, told Vanguard that “it is most inappropriate to pick a Speaker from a zone that could not boast of at least 10members ahead of other zones that have far more than that figure, democracy is all about numerics.”
“We chose Tambuwal because he has all the necessary experience that could catapult this House to greater heights and remember the man is vastly experienced in the legislative act, as you can see most of us are new in this aspect and if we elect the wrong person to run the affairs of this House we might just get our fingers burnt beyond recognition,” he stated.
Most of the Reps shared Mohammed’s stand , but the bulk of Tambuwal’s votes came from members of the opposition parties, who felt it was an opportunity to rubbish whatever zoning formula put in place by the PDP by ensuring that no candidate is imposed on them.
While the PDP was silent on the issue, its Chairman Board of Trustees, BOT, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo described the Speaker as an illegal occupant, who deserved to vacate the seat he was occupying.
This call for Tambuwal’s removal however was greeted with anger as most Reps poured their venom on the elder statesman. Despite the scathing remarks made by the Reps, the never say die General still restated that crisis was looming, insisting that the Speaker should serve for two years and vacate the seat for someone from the South West geo-political zone.
That again, attracted condemnations for the former President, as the lawmakers insisted that the House did not belong to PDP but to Nigeria.
Though Obasanjo is now silent on the issue, there are still concerns that the last may not have been heard about Tambuwals’s Speakership.
This fear of the likelihood that the leadership may change baton, however led to the late announcement of a new Majority Leader of the House, Mrs Mulikat Adeola.
This could also be attributed to why it took the Tambuwal led administration six months to appoint media aides, who were formally appointed barely a week ago. Unlike Tambuwal, Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha announced his aides almost immediately he assumed office, while the National Assembly Press Corps patiently waited to know Tambuwal’s image makers.
True to his style, Tambuwal picked his media men following due process which has been his very strong weapon to steer clear off any trouble that might truncate his fragile administration. If there was anything that is making things rosy for Tambuwal,it is his ability to carry members along. In addition to that, the Speaker is known for his unparalleled humility, which was not very common with previous Speakers.
X-ray of achievements
Beyond the issue of intrigues and controversies, the immediate past House within the year under review, recorded some positive achievements.
Some legislators, who spoke to Vanguard before exit of the Sixth House were unanimous in their responses, that the House performed excellently in legislative matters and acknowledged that allegations and counter allegations on corrupt practices smeared its reputation.
According to Abba Anas Adamu, who was representing Birinwa/Guri/Kirikasamma Federal Constituency in Borno State, the House performed well in the area of its legislative duties.
Another lawmaker, Mohammed Sani, CPC, said “we made history at least we passed some powerful bills like the FOI bill, Electoral Amendment bill that ushered in a credible election.”
It will be recalled that so many bills suffered such fate. However, it will be recalled that the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB was dumped at the close of business of the House in 2011.
Accordingly, 83 petitions were considered, others were laid to rest. One remarkable thing the House did was the unreserved apology it tendered to the former Speaker, Mrs Patricia Etteh ,who was absolved of all corrupt allegations that threw her out of office. She demanded for it and it was unanimously granted but Etteh vowed never to forgive the Nigerian Press, which she claimed fueled the crisis.
Scorecard of the Seventh House
While some lawmakers sored the House below pass mark, others claimed the House had performed relatively well. While appriasing the House, Daniel Reyenieju, who is representing Warri Federal Constituency, scored the lawmakers 30percent.
Similarly, the mouth piece of the lower chamber of the National of Assembly, Zakari Mohammed scored the House above average,noting that majority of the members were green horns ,who had to learn the act of making laws.
Nonetheless, one visible ugly development was that as at last Tuesday when the House closed shop, 31 House Committees had not submitted their reports on very sensitive national issues.
This definitely is a big minus to Tambuwal’s men, who had promised Nigerians that it was going to be business unusual in this new dispensation.