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Another shame from our House

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Another shame from our House

There are certainly many things to be ashamed of concerning the present National Assembly, and the House of Representatives in particular. Indeed, many, many things.

Is it in the way that the House has cavorted around the presidency that is generally believed to have imposed its leadership?

Who has forgotten that after the horrifying beheading of scores of Nigerian citizens in Borno last November that the House in a very rare display of grit summoned President Muhammadu Buhari but subsequently turned around to swallow the contempt of the scorn?

If this House of Representatives were to be forgiven for its grovelling before the executive, what would one say of its crass disrespect for the feelings of ordinary Nigerians with its avarice?

Just as the COVID-19 pandemic arrived the country penultimate February, it emerged that the lawmakers had ordered 400 exotic cars for themselves after rejecting Nigerian brands.

What was painful was that the lawmakers had the opportunity to patronize Nigerian brands and by that create and build up the economy.

The lawmakers knew what was right and wrong, but chose the wrong to feed their own ego.

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So, given the fact that a significant proportion of Nigerians outside those in the immediate circle of the lawmakers no longer take them serious, it was a shock that the deputy Speaker of the House, Idris Wase would rivet attention to the chamber in an odious way.

The running commentary concerning the recent faceoff between the deputy speaker and Rep. Mark Gbillah over a petition by a Tiv group in the Diaspora may have brought the esteem of the parliament to the nadir.

The import of the action of the deputy speaker in shutting out a petition based on his whims and caprices outside the foundation of the rules of the House demonstrates the fact that the lawmaking chamber is itself bereft of existential rules.

Before now, Wase was chairman of the House Committee on Federal Character where according to information in the media space he blocked the employment of scores of staff of the National Pension Commission, PENCOM after they had been employed.

Given such capacity to flex muscles whenever he has the opportunity, it was not surprising that when called upon to act as presiding officer, he would bring what is now alleged as his personal bias into the affairs of the House.

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In television interviews, Gbillah has said that Wase may have acted against him because he did not support his emergence as deputy speaker. It would be sad if that were correct.

The House of Representatives would never have had the exemplary leadership brought by Yakubu Dogara if Aminu Waziri Tambuwal had acted in the same manner.

Speaker Dimeji Bankole had during his stewardship appointed Dogara as chairman of the committee on Customs. It was in that capacity that we subsequently heard of how Dogara rejected a $5 million bribe from the Customs Cartel to compromise him.

It was perhaps based on that, that Dogara was promoted chairman of the Committee on House Services, unarguably, one of the juiciest committees in Nigerian parliaments. The Chairman of House Services in parliament is the equivalent of the Minister of Works and Finance combined! He awards the contract and pays it!

In the 2011 leadership race, everyone wanted to run with Dogara, but out of party loyalty, he chose to run with Mulikat Akande, the party’s choice as Deputy Speaker. However, conspiracies here and there came in, as Aminu Waziri Tambuwal trounced the official party candidate.

Now, what is remarkable was that Tambuwal after he emerged Speaker, retained Dogara in that choice and juicy position as chairman of House Services for four years.

So, if Gbillah’s words were to be believed, then Wase needs to rise up to emulate the kind of grace that his predecessors manifested as presiding officers.

Some also allege that Deputy Speaker Wase was blinded by ethnic considerations and that he brought the battle on the Plateau to the House.

But that would be soiling the legacy of national unity that was once fanned in the House of Representatives.

Who would forget the memorable legacies that the Lion and the Tiger, that is Speaker Ghali Na‘Abba and his Deputy, Chibudom Nwuche etched in the House of Representatives between 1999 and 2003?

In year 2000, Speaker Na‘Abba despite ethnic sentiments that would have inspired him to the contrary, mobilized the House to override President Olusegun Obasanjo’s veto of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Act.

It is trite to say that that era when Na‘Abba mobilized lawmakers from all over the country to push forward a body as the NDDC to better the lot of the oil-producing Niger Delta will be difficult to come again.

So, given the cloud of sentiments alleged to have inspired the deputy speaker in his eerie behaviour, one can only await either an apology or a sincere clarification of the fault of the presenter of the motion for the conduct, we saw on the floor.

So far, what have come out from the statements of the deputy speaker and one errand boy who went on television to defend him have not been inspiring enough.

But nothing in style, stature, or statements from this very House has been inspiring for our democratic nuances or wellbeing.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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