House of Representatives
Onwuka Nzeshi in Abuja
There was a mild drama in the House of Representatives Thursday as some lawmakers staged a walkout from the chamber over what they described as a “wrong ruling” on a bill seeking to amend the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) Act.
The Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, who presided at the session, had ruled in favour of the bill being passed through the second reading after a voice vote had indicated that the members present in the chamber had voted against the bill.
They sought to amend the Industrial Training Fund for the purpose of empowering it to design, set up and operate guidelines for the training, certification of artisans and technicians across the country.
Under the proposed law, the ITF would be empowered to establish centres for gathering and maintaining up to date registers of certified artisans and technicians in all fields across the federation.
The sponsor of the bill, Hon. Chudi Uwazuruike(PDP/Imo), said the bill was necessary to set standards for artisans and expand the scope of industries in the country.
In spite of the stated objectives of the bill, it attracted massive opposition from the lawmakers who argued that the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) was already performing the functions sought by the new bill.
Some of those opposed to the bill said there was no need to create new centres for the ITF across the federation because that would amount to creating more layers of bureaucracy and committing government to more expenditure.
Ihedioha put the question on the bill twice and each time it appeared he could not discern where the pendulum swung to in terms of which voices were louder.
He subsequently ruled in favour of those who wanted the bill passed, a ruling that sparked instant protest from some members who felt his judgment was wrong.
A number of the protesters staged a walkout even as Ihedioha appealed for calm and urged them to return to their seats.
One of the aggrieved lawmakers, Hon. Ali Madaki (PDP/ Kano), raised a point of order in which he faulted the presiding officer on the decision taken on the bill.
Madaki argued that in a situation where the presiding officer was not sure about the voice vote, the House Standing Rules, prescribes that the House should be divided to give a true picture of those who are for or against the bill.