*We had pressures from companies but… Speaker
By Levinus Nwabughiogu
National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole last night hailed the commitment and patriotism of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila on the passage of Petroleum Sharing contract and a deep offshore bill recently passed into law by the National Assembly.
He also commended the House on the speed with members were working on the 2020 budget to ensure its early passage.
A statement from the Special Adviser to the Speaker on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi stated that Oshiomhole made the commendation when he led members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) to thank the Speaker and his colleagues for their good work since inauguration in June at the national assembly on Thursday.
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“I commend you for the way you handled the deep offshore bill. You have shown true patriotism in doing that. The last leadership of the National Assembly didn’t do this.
”It’s to your credit and all the members of the House that, this time around, you all decided in unison, to put the country first before any other thing. You made huge sacrifices.
“I think that you deserve banner headlines for the courage and patriotism with which the House of Representatives under your leadership has been providing good leadership across party lines.
“The other thing is to also appreciate the clear difference when you received the (2020) budget. We were privileged to be in the hallowed chamber, and we had no difficulty compared to the way the president was received just about this time a year ago.
“That shows qualitative style in leadership and determination by the APC Caucus to do its part to ensure that the Executive and the Legislature work for the good of the country so that the party can be proud when next we’re pushing people for election or reelection.
”We’re aware that you decided to abstain and encourage your members to give priority to the budget unlike the previous years, such that even where you have other individual or group commitment outside the country, they had to sacrifice that to give the budget the kind of treatment that it deserves so that it can be passed timeously, unlike the previous years.
“There are a lot of positive things going on that we can see. I just felt that if people are not celebrating us, APC should point out what we’re doing differently, why we’re different from the past and the renewed commitment to work for the good of the country.”
The APC national chairman also expressed appreciation to the Speaker for the support he has been extending to the party, saying ”We’ve seen your comments and positions on critical issues. You align your position with that of the party, and we’re very grateful.”
Responding, the Speaker thanked the APC National Chairman for the thank you visit, which he said was the first of its kind since he has been in the National Assembly.
“Let me say a big thank you to you because as we’re witnessing first, first and first in the activities of the House, this is the first time that we’re seeing the NWC come just to say thank you. There’s no other agenda or item. We thought for you to come here, there was something on the agenda for us. Members, I can assure you, right now feel recognised, that you’ve recognised the work that they’ve done.
“Mr chairman, let me also congratulate the party on our recent double victory in Kogi and Bayelsa states. The fact that we came out victorious in both elections is a success, and much of it goes to the party.
“We believe that moving forward, we’re beginning to see what 2023 would look like.
”I’ve mentioned this to the President, the Chief of Staff and everybody that cares to listen that this is the first time that I’ve seen members work on the budget. We were having dinner at about 10 pm, and I told him that ‘if you go to the National Assembly right now, you’ll find my members there working on the budget. You’ll find them processing the budget without looking for any thank you or anything like that.’
“It has never happened. They took it seriously and worked hard. The commitment, the passion and the dedication were unparalleled. So, that you recognised us, we say thank you again. Moving forward, it shows what a majority party should look like.”
The Speaker noted that the APC members stood their ground to ensure the passage of the Deep Offshore Agreement Bill.
“I can tell you for free that some of those companies got to some members on the floor, not APC members. But we were able to put our foot down and understand that this is the majority party, this is what our government wants. And we did what we needed to do. I’ll be unfair if I don’t say that the PDP members, a good majority of them also worked with us on this.”
On the issue of Edo State House of Assembly crisis, the Speaker said he had, instructed the legal department to file an appeal on the judgment delivered against the position taken by the House.
“This National Assembly will protect the institution of the legislature because we believe objectively that the provisions of the constitution are written in black and white and in no other language but English. Because of that, there’s a bill I’m personally sponsoring, which will come upon the floor of the House next week. It stops a court or an arm of government from stopping another arm of government from doing what it should constitutionally.
“You can do it, but the court can later say it’s unconstitutional. But to stop the process, coming soon is a bill to stop that. In the meantime, we’re waiting for the day where the appeal will be heard. So, you’re not alone in this battle for democracy, because it’s not a personal thing”, Gbajabimilla said.