The controversy over the summon of President Muhammadu Buhari by the House of Representatives over the state of security in the country resonated last week after media reports that the House leadership apologised to the Presidency, reports Adedayo Akinwale
The recent summon of President Muhammadu Buhari by the House of Representatives to address it on the security challenges in the country was in the front burner last week following media reports that the Green Chamber had jettisoned the idea, after the leadership of the House allegedly apologised to the Presidency.
The House leadership, it was reported, found that the initial invitation had assumed ethnic and political dimension, while some of the lawmakers behind the motion to invite Buhari were reported to have apologised to the Presidency.
The said lawmakers claimed that their motion was not intended to embarrass the President, contrary to insinuations in some quarters.
Hence the House decision to invite the President followed a recent gruesome killing of 43 rice farmers in Zabarmari community in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State by the Boko Haram insurgents.
Expectedly, the heinous act by the insurgents resulted to long hours of debate in both Chambers of the National Assembly and generated heated debate, even as resolutions were reached.
In recent time, similar resolutions had been reached, where the legislators called for the sack of the Service Chiefs, but Buhari’s trust in them has not waned.
Moving the motion on behalf other 10 Borno State lawmakers at plenary, Hon Satomi Ahmed urged the President to, among other things, declare a state of emergency on security matters.
But, Hon Ahmadu Jaha, one of the co-sponsors of the motion raised a point of order saying a prayer was omitted. He said in the original motion, all the sponsors agreed that Buhari should be invited to brief the House on the true state of security of the Nation was removed, adding that he was shocked by the removal.
The lawmaker stressed that he risked his life several times and wanted it to be on record and in the hearts of his constituents that he was not silent on the insecurity of the region.
While his amendment got overwhelming support from other lawmakers, the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and the majority leader, Hon. Ado Doguwa opined that it was not necessary as security issues couldn’t be discussed openly and therefore pleading for the understanding of their colleagues not to summon the President.
Gbajabiamila said that inviting the president to the floor might not be the best way to go, adding that there were other ways to engage him. He said the prayer calling for a state of emergency on insecurity allowed for far reaching decision and was enough to address the many demands of the region.
The Speaker, in an attempt to calm the very rowdy session, ruled that plenary be suspended and members go into an executive session to resolve the matter.
Reconvening after an hour from the closed-door meeting, Jaha, who earlier insisted on the invitation as the key prayer of the motion, was asked to formally move the motion for the President’s appearance.
This was followed on December 2, by the assurance by the Speaker, who said President Buhari had pledged to honour the invitation so as to explain what he was doing about the rising wave of insecurity in the country. He told State House reporters in Abuja, after leading a delegation to a meeting with the president, that they came to convey the resolution summoning him to appear before it.
Gbajabiamila said aside from conveying the resolution to the president, they also had the intention of fixing a date for his appearance.
Asked what was his perception of the President’s handling of security threats ravaging the country, Gbajabiamila said the president was concerned about the worsening insecurity, but said he would avoid pre-empting the president until he appears before the House. According to him, when Buhari appears before the House, he would not be there to address only the lawmakers, but would use the platform to address the country.
However, few days before the President historic appearance before a joint session of the National Assembly, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), said the House lacked the power to summon the President.
Despite Malami’s claim, the House insisted that it was empowered by the constitution to summon anybody. Aside from disagreement between the two chambers, the invitation assumed ethnic and political dimensions in the House, while some of those behind the motion were shocked at the political colouration given to it.
The House leadership was alleged to have a hidden agenda on the motion with a view to undermining President Buhari.
A principal officer said: “The House of Representatives has foreclosed or dropped any immediate or future plans to invite President Muhammadu Buhari over insecurity in the country, because a harmless motion has become political.
“I can tell you that we will no longer revisit the invitation. But we will be interacting with Service Chiefs and other ministers in charge of the nation’s security. The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its lawmakers capitalised on the motion to cast aspersions on the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“What we never intended became the issue. Some governors and strategists in government insinuated that the House leadership was working for a different political interest. That was why they pulled the strings from the Senate. At a point, the row over the invitation was turned into a North-South divide if not for the political dexterity of the House leadership.
“We also got intelligence that some of those lawmakers, who sponsored the motion, because of Zabamari rice farmers went through the back door to the Presidency to apologise over their insistence that the President must appear before the National Assembly.”
But in a swift reaction, the House insisted that it never apologised to the President or Presidency over the motion requesting Buhari to brief the nation on the state of insecurity in the country.
Spokesperson of the House, Hon Ben Kalu, in a statement insisted that the President or the Presidency as the case may be, never sought for an apology from the House for carrying out its constitutional responsibility to the Nigerian electorate.
He explained that the House never apologised to anyone for exercising her constitutional mandate and the Ninth Assembly of the House under the leadership of Gbajabiamila.
Kalu stated: “It has come to the knowledge of the House that few sections of the media reported that the House apologised to the Presidency over the resolution of the House, which arose from the motion sponsored by members from Borno State, requesting for the invitation of the President to brief the nation on the state of insecurity in the country.
“The President or the Presidency as the case may be, never sought an apology from the House of Representatives for carrying out her constitutional responsibility to the Nigerian electorate. Where then did the media get the report that the House as an institution apologised to anyone? Media professionals are advised to uphold the ethics of their profession.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the House never apologised to anyone for exercising her constitutional mandate and the 9th Assembly of the House of Representatives under the leadership of Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila will not do anything to desecrate or destroy the critical institution of democracy – the Legislature. We strongly believe that President Muhammadu Buhari subscribes to these democratic ethos and ideals as well.”