*CNPP disowns scribe on statement
*Fashola backs APC Reps
*Mu‘azu meets PDP House caucus today
By Soni Daniel, Kingsley Omonobi, Emma Ovuakporie & Levinus & Nwabughiogu
ABUJA — The famed unity in the Aminu Tambuwal-led House of Representatives was unravelling, yesterday, as members began to take position along party lines on the directive by the All Progressives Congress, APC, to shut down the government.
The directive by the opposition party to shut down government bills upon the alleged reign of impunity in Rivers State, yesterday, led to the emergence of at least three groups in the House taking divergent positions on the issue.
The crisis of confidence among political groups also led the split in the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, which also yesterday, disowned a statement of support for the APC directive issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Osita Okechukwu.
CNPP Chairman and former governor of Old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, in a joint statement with the body’s national secretary, Mr. Willy Ezugwu, said the CNPP, as a body encompassing all political parties, would not side one party against another.
Also yesterday, Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State gave strong support to the APC directive, saying it was a necessary legislative action to bring a belligerent executive arm of government to order.
Meanwhile, the new National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Adamu Mu‘azu has scheduled a strategic meeting with members of the House of Representatives caucus to fend off the challenges from the APC.
“The meeting which is being convened by the PDP House leader, Mrs. Mulikat Adeola-Akande at a five star hotel in Abuja today, is to be graced by the party’s 18 governors.
Meantime, the PDP which for the first time last month lost its majority in the House, yesterday, teamed up with three smaller political parties to form a body to frustrate the directive issued by the APC to its members to frustrate the passage of government bills and appointments in the National Assembly.
PDP, APGA, LP, AP unite against APC
The new body termed “National Unity Group of the Federal House of Representatives” (NUG) is composed of PDP, All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Accord Party (AP) and Labour Party (LP) members.
Speaking as the Leader of the group, Hon. Bitrus Kaze (Jos North/South Federal Constituency of Plateau State) said the group was formed to essentially protect the unity of the country.
He recalled the attempt by Gbajabiamila to ridicule the PDP Deputy Leader, Rep Leo Ogor on the floor of the House last Tuesday when he addressed him as the “minority leader,” and vowed that the group would not allow Nigeria to be ridiculed.
Motif of the group
Giving the motif of the group, he said: “Just a week ago, in defiance of a court order, the APC in what the media next day admitted was a failed “attempt to take over NASS,” created a near breakdown in the chambers when the minority leader sought to claim that the majority leader was no longer the majority leader; in any case he was properly shouted down by most members.
“These latest directives are a provocation and as far as legislative manoeuvres go, they will once again fail. Hence, everything must be done to arrest the APC attempt to turn Nigeria into a laughing stock. We the National Unity Group in the House of Reps made up of PDP, Labour, Accord and APGA members, wish to aver as follows:
“That any attempt to tamper with the 2014 budget and hence the Transformation Agenda of the Jonathan administration, would be met with robust resistance;
Reacting to the development, Gbajabiamila, the leader of the APC House caucus said: “Those names and groups are unknown to the House. So I cannot speak to their agenda. However, that it would take the hurried and panicky formation of three groups to counter a legitimate directive from one party speaks volumes not only about their understanding of issues and politics but also of the impact and force of the directive.”
Rep. Ogbonna Nwuke (Omuma/Etche Federal Constituency, Rivers State) on his part also charged the PDP to respond squarely to the issues on hand.
“The PDP should rather address the issue in question. What the APC drew attention to was the brazen abuse of power, the unnecessary recourse to impunity by the authorities especially in Rivers State. Why are they not addressing that matter? That is the issue the APC was drawing national attention to and why it ordered its lawmakers to shut down government.
Hon. Abiodun Faleke (APC) Lagos State: “No law maker can stop me from democratically expressing my views on the floor just as I cannot stop any. At the end, majority will prevail.”
CNPP disowns scribe
Disowning the recent statement by its national publicity secretary giving support to the APC directive, Musa the CNPP chairman and Ezugwu, the secretary said: “The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties, CNPP, hereby distances itself from the statement credited to Mr. Osita Okechukwu, who claimed to have spoken in his capacity as the Publicity Secretary of the CNPP.
“Mr. Okechuckwu specifically said that the CNPP supports the APC’s directive to its members in the National Assembly to block the confirmation of Service Chiefs and ministerial nominees as well as stall passage of the 2014 national budget.
“We wish to remind Nigerians that the CNPP as an umbrella organization of all the registered political parties in Nigeria cannot take side with any one political party against another.
“The secretariat of the CNPP did not at any time mandate Mr. Okechukwu to issue a statement endorsing the directive of the APC to its members in the National Assembly.
“The views expressed by Mr. Osita Okechukwu are personal to him and do not represent that of CNPP.”
Fashola backs APC Reps
Governor Fashola, in a session with newsmen yesterday gave support to the APC directive, saying: “But let me say here without any shadow of doubt, that three arms of government in the theory of separation of powers recognized the needs for every arm of governments, the executive, legislature and the judiciary as a check on the other.”
PDP caucus meeting
Today’s meeting with the PDP House caucus would be the first formal contact between the new national chairman and the members.
It was also learnt that the meeting was called to fine-tune ways of neutralising the increasing influence of the APC and stall the bid by the opposition to change the leadership of the House of Representatives.