By EMMAN OVUAKPORIE
HAVING mobilized majority of the 360 members of the House to beat the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-favoured candidate in the leadership contest, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, was bound to run the affairs of the House on a cautious note given the determination of the party hierarchy to get its pound of flesh.
SINCE Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal emerged as Speaker of the House of Representatives in May 2011 he has remained in firm control despite the odds.
The manner he emerged speaker, truncating the plans of his party, the PDP, that fielded another candidate made leadership of the House to be very mindful of its transactions in and out of the House.
That has indeed been beneficial for the image of the House given the unceasing scandals that rocked the immediate past House.
The chamber indeed, could have survived the last 24 months without blemishes, but for the two major scandals that dainted the image of the House.
Farouk Lawan/Femi Otedola imbroglio
The allegation of bribery raised against Farouk Lawan by Femi Otedola was one of the lowest points of the House last year as it considerably rubbished the image of the House in the eyes of many Nigerians.
The decision of the House to investigate the allegation that Lawan and a committee clerk allegedly collected $620,000 from Otedola to compromise the report of the House investigations into the fuel subsidy scam was seen as a way of redeeming the image of the House. Lawan has been removed as chairman House committee on Education and ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy and monitoring regime.
Similarly, the House was also faced with the challenge of resolving the crisis arising from the allegation of extortion made against the chairman of the House Committee on Capital Market, Herman Hembe by the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Ms Arunma Oteh. The issues arising from the Hembe affair led to the indictment of Ms Oteh and the House resolution on her ineligibility to hold the top position in the apex capital market regulatory body.
The House is now locked in a face-off with the executive on the propriety of Ms Oteh continuing in office leading to refusal of the House to appropriate funds for the commission in the 2013 budget.
The House has, however, been accused of double standards given the dithering procrastination to discipline its own men in the two scams.
How Tambuwal managed SOE
Kudos should be given to the House leadership the way the issue of state of emergency declared on Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states was managed. Though the House disagreed with the Senate in some areas, at the end of the day both legislative chambers resolved their differences after interfacing with each other.
Frosty relationship between the Executive and Reps
The frosty relations between the House and the executive arm of government is also a challenge to Tambuwal. Legislators who spoke to Vanguard had repeatedly said there is no rancor between both arms.
They largely claimed that it is all about doing things the right way. Some cited the amendment of the 2013 Appropriation Act as an instance. Reps advised President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure the bill was well articulated before submission but it was poorly prepared and sent to the House.
This lackluster relationship has not really made things go smoothly in the House as there are a few legislators who feel they should dine and wine with the executive.
Colourless committee chairmen
Of the 89 standing committees only 14 could score above average as some were glaringly invisible in the last two years.
A source close to the leadership of the House who pleaded anonymity said that some of the chairmen rode on the back of their godfathers to get appointed into juicy committees but today the leadership knows better and may be amenable to re- composing the committees.
Most of the remaining 75 committees are viewed in some quarters as having refused to wake up from deep slumber.
But the issue is whether the leadership will change a team that has religiously supported it.
One of the major ingredients of Tambuwal’s Legislative Agenda when he assumed office in June 2011 was e-Parliament.
Vanguard gathered that work is at an advanced stage. The e-parliament when finally installed would ease work for legislators particularly those among them who hardly enter the chamber.
Petroleum Industry Bill
The Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB is another proposed legislation that may tear the House apart if not properly managed.
Although, Tambuwal has carefully steered this legislation towards conclusion, many hope that the ad-hoc committee set up to manage it would not derail it.
The drums of war that greeted the bill have stopped for now, and maybe, until the ad-hoc committee comes up with its findings. .
Maintenance of financial transparency has been one major area that has given the House leadership a lot of headache. When a group of legislators raised their voices last year to know the state of the House’s coffers, they looked stupid as Tambuwal was found to have lived above board.
During the executive session, a principal officer had painstakingly and exhaustively explained the state of the House finances. The rumor then was that there was an impeachment plot against Tambuwal. It is believed in some quarters that lack of financial probity dented the image of the Sixth Assembly.
Vanguard had then reliably gathered that some of the legislators who raised their eyebrows in this direction were those who collected huge loans of up to N200 million but forgot about repayment. Some bought cars worth N25 million and even refused to invest the money.
If there is something Tambuwal has done to further make him earn respect among his peers is the fact that in the last two years he has maintained an open door policy and operated like a leader who walks within the ethics of accountability.
He also relates with colleagues with humility, a virtue that is rare among many of his followers in the House!