House Vs Arunma Oteh

09 Dec 2012

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Arunma Oteh

Amild drama played out during the week when a delegation from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was walked out of the venue of an investigation into the remittance of revenue by agencies of government.

The reason, the lawmakers said, was that they were invited to the event in error.
Chairman, House Committee on Finance, Hon. Abdulmuminu Jibrin said the decision to excuse SEC from the event was in line with an earlier resolution passed by the chamber, declaring that the House was no longer prepared to have anything to do with SEC as long as Ms Arunma Oteh remains the Director General of the organisation.

The action immediately brought back memories of the Hembegate scandal in which the Chairman, House Committee on Capital Market, Hon Herman Hembe was accused by Oteh to have demanded for the sum of N44million to assist the committee organise an investigation into the collapse of the capital market.
The crux of the matter is that Oteh was not in the bad books of the lawmakers until she raised an allegation that the lawmaker demanded bribe from the commission.

As if the first allegation was not enough, she had at that same time challenged Hembe to account for the estacode Hembe and his deputy in the Capital Market Committee received from SEC when they were scheduled to attend a capacity building workshop in the Dominican Republic. These were allegations that shook the House to its foundations, forcing it to excuse Hembe and the entire Capital Market Committee from the probe.

Since the El-Sudi Adhoc Committee took over the investigation of collapse of the capital market, Oteh rather than the capital market has been under investigation.

It is curious also that since the probe ended and the report submitted, the only recommendation of the El-Sudi Committee that has remained on the front burner is the compulsory removal of Oteh for lacking cognate experience in the operations of the Nigerian Capital Market.
It is true that the House is doing its work and has enormous powers to deal with any erring public officer.
A lawmaker who was a guest of a talk show on national television recently said the House was against Oteh’s further stay at SEC because her appointment and confirmation by the Senate was an oversight. According to the lawmaker, her appointment has denied some persons who joined SEC and rose through the ranks from becoming the Director General.

This kind of argument suggests a lot of things including the possibility of a fifth columnist at work to pave the way for some persons to supplant the embattled lady.
The parliament may have a genuine case regarding the alleged deficiency in cognate experience but lawmakers should realise that this is like crying over spilt milk.

In travelling this path they have chosen, our parliamentarians should also be mindful of public perception of the whole saga.
No matter how lawmakers explain their face off with Oteh, they can only convince the kindergarten class that they are not on a vengeance mission.

Like Summon, Like Invite
At last, the House of Representatives appears to have soft-pedaled on its hard stance against President Goodluck Jonathan on the rising wave of terrorism in Nigeria.
The Green Chamber had in June extended the invitation to Jonathan in what appeared like the climax of a frosty relationship and lack of confidence in the federal government’s attempt to contain the rising wave of terrorism and general insecurity in the country.

But at the weekly media briefing last Thursday, Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Victor Ogene told journalists that though the invitation remained valid, President Jonathan was at liberty to honour it any time he deemed fit.
Ogene explained that contrary to the insinuation in some quarters, the House did not “summon” Jonathan but invited him as an avenue for the lawmakers to offer their own suggestions on how government could tackle insecurity across the country.

“We are worried by the mounting security situation. However if you are in your house and invite a visitor, you cannot complain that the visitor is taking too long because you are in your House. So you keep waiting until the visitor comes.
“But like every other Nigerian, we are worried that the security situation instead of getting better is worsening. Maybe there is something Mr. President knows that we don’t know, but we feel that as representatives of the people, there are things that each member in the different areas that are embattled would have to say to help the situation,” Ogene said.
The new position of the House may have come on the heels of several private meetings President allegedly had with the leadership of the House in which security matters featured prominently.

The growing understanding between the two arms of government is encouraging and the right way to go.
Issues like security and budget are too sensitive and central in any administration that no arm should challenge the other to a wrestling bout in the public arena.
If one arm forces the other to dance naked at the marketplace, the result will only be collective shame and more insecurity.

*Parliamentary Liaison
Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Joy Emodi is elated by this renewed cordial relationship between the Presidency and the National Assembly.
In a brief appraisal of the situation during the week, Emodi said the relationship between the executive and the legislature had never been so good since the return of democracy, thirteen years ago.

She attributed it to the patriotic and non-interfering disposition of President Goodluck Jonathan and the maturity of the leadership in the two chambers of the National Assembly.
Emodi recalled the turbulence associated with the relationship between the Presidency and the parliament in the first eight years of the present democratic dispensation.

It was an era characterised by conflicts and frequent change of guards in both chambers of the parliament.
Emodi says that era is gone for good and we chorus amen to that prayer!

Tags: Politics, Nigeria, Featured, House of Reps

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