Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Saturday decried the decision of the All Progressives Congress (APC) leadership in the House of Representatives to shut down the sitting of various committees investigating the executive and described it as a deliberate design to cover up the stench of corruption oozing out of the APC administration.
The party, however, charged the Speaker, House of Representative, Femi Gbajabiamila, to stop circumventing the statutory duties of the House and placing wedges in the way of the fight against corruption by the legislature.
In a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP described the shutdown order by the APC leadership of the House of Representatives as a clear example of corruption fighting back from within the government circle, which must be condemned by all Nigerians.
The party noted that such incursion into the activities of the committees was to undermine the fight against corruption as well as frustrate whistle blowers, because APC has become an ocean of corruption where the members swim.
“It is clear that the shutdown directive is targeted at frustrating revelations from the ongoing investigations on the $500 million foreign loan from China, particularly as it relates to the mortgaging of our nation’s sovereignty to China,” the opposition party claimed.
This, the PDP said, was in addition to the investigations into the humongous corruption in government agencies, including the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), the N300 billion unremitted revenue to the federation account as well as allegations of corruption in government earnings and expenditures in Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDA’s) under the APC.
The PDP said, “It is, therefore, unfortunate that under the Gbajabiamila-led leadership, the basic responsibility of the House of Representatives, which is its oversight on the executive, has just been maimed through a forced holiday on the members of the respective committees and their Chairmen.
“It is equally distressing that the APC leadership of the House of Representatives is breaching parliamentary rules, practices and procedures to shield APC leaders and their cronies, who have been fleecing our nation.
“Our party, therefore, holds that any parliament that deliberately frustrates its statutory responsibility to call the activities of the executive to question has lost the essence of its own existence. The leadership that led it into such constitutional suicide must be held culpable.”
PDP explained that never in Nigeria’s parliamentary history had committee activities been suspended or shut down on the ground of holiday or suspension of plenary.
“For us, in the PDP, it is shocking that the APC leadership of the House of Representatives could by any consideration shut down, its legislative investigation, which is exclusively vested on it under sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), on the guise of being on break. Such an action is calamitous to our democracy,” he explained.
The PDP has also commended members of its caucus and other minorities in the National Assembly for standing against corruption and striving to ensure that the APC does not sell Nigerians into slavery with its reckless foreign borrowings.
The party however urged the lawmakers not to be deterred by the development but continue in their assignments, as they are only answerable to the Nigerian people.
It further charged the Gbajabiamila-led leadership to immediately reverse itself as Nigerians expect nothing but seamless investigations without unnecessary interferences and incursions.
“If the Honourable Speaker is inclined towards allowing the covering of corruption, against the purpose for which he was elected to lead the House, then, he should take a bow and step aside,” the PDP stated.