By Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
A point of order by the Majority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, shot down debate on the letter sent to the House of Representatives by President Muhammadu Buhari, where he gave reasons for not assenting to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2018 for the fourth time.
At the opening of the Tuesday plenary, the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, had read the letter on the floor, sparking spontaneous reaction from Hon. Aliyu Madaki (Kano, PDP), who immediately started making observation about the president’s action.
Madaki said, “Mr. Speaker, you have just read a very important letter. What we want is free, fair and credible election. Mr. President refusing to assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill shows clearly what he wants to do. The whole world is watching. Everybody is watching…”
Gbajabiamila however interjected by shouting “Point of Order Mr. Speaker,” and when given the floor, he said: “We have never, by precedence; by custom and tradition, we have never debated a letter, which is by way of information. If there is the need to debate the president’s letter, we will table on the order paper for debate.”
According to him, “Several letters have been written by several presidents before. It never happened. If you want to debate the letter, place it on the order paper. We are fully ready to debate it.”
Responding, Dogara said: “We have a provision in our rules that guides this kind of communication and I will advise that we follow the rules. So, I think this matter should be laid to rest.”