Members of the House of Representatives loyal to the Bamanga Tukur-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday threw the plenary into a rowdy session when it was announced that the national chairman of the new PDP, Abubakar Baraje would address the House.
As soon as the letter signed by the group’s national secretary, Olagunsoye Oyinlola was read, members threw caution to the wind as both pro and anti Tukur engaged in shouting match and screaming on top of their voices. The fisticuffs that ensured threw the House in confusion for about 30 minutes.
It took the ingenuity of speaker Aminu Tambuwal who announced that similar letter was received from the Bamanga Tukur-led PDP to restore order. The Speakers said Mr. Tukur also requested to come and address the House but later withdrew it.
“There was a communication from our leader Bamanga Tukur to address the PDP caucus, but he withdrew his letter this morning and that was why I couldn’t read it,” the Speaker said.
At this point, Kingsley Chinda, PDP member from Rivers raised a point of order. He said “We are united but people watching what happened on the floor will misinterpret it to mean that we are divided”.
Therefore, to demonstrate that the House was not divided, he moved a vote of confidence on the leadership of the House under Aminu Tambuwal and was unanimously passed.
Presenting his speech titled “We must remain focused”, he described as worrisome the now glaring weakness of intra-party democratic culture, saying it must be sanitized. He therefore, stressed the need for the lawmakers to remain focused in pursuit of their mandate.
Mr. Tambuwal said, “Recently, the polity has witnessed sustained heat generated by both inter-party and intra-party squabbles. This is not all together unexpected given the approach of 2015. What is worrisome however is that these squabbles have further exposed the weaknesses of internal party democratic culture and inter-party intolerance. These are viruses that we must resolve to dispense with in order to sanitize the political space.
“I wish to caution that we exercise the highest restraint to the obvious distractions that the approaching 2015 is bound to bring so that we do not lose our focus in the diligent pursuit of our mandate. The proper timing for 2015 will surely come and at that time, we shall do the needful.
“We also hope to amend the Electoral Act again to see how we can ensure that no one takes unfair advantage of the existing loopholes to rig elections. The fact is that until we can ensure that each vote counts in this country, the people will always be taken for granted by their leaders. We therefore want to produce a solid Electoral Act, comparable to any in the world and able to stand the text of time.
“Budget implementation still remains a sore point of governance. The level of implementation of the 2013 capital appropriation is way below expectation given the early submission by the Executive and equally early passage by the Legislature. We have consistently advised that the procurement process be employed in a value added manner rather than the slavish adherence to and unproductive worship of procedures. It would appear that not much progress has been made in that regard.
“So far, by the information and statistics at our disposal there would appear to be no justification for this state of affairs. However in order to be comprehensively guided, all the Committees of the House will proceed on one week of oversight to Ministries, Department and Agencies at the end of which they shall submit their reports to the Committees on Legislative Budget and Research and that of Legislative Compliance, the two Committees will collate same and submit a joint report to plenary for consideration. This report will guide the House in the consideration of the 2014 budget proposals.
The Speaker also lamented the low standard of living in the country, noting that “Most of our people still can’t afford to live decently. They still can’t afford quality education for their children or good healthcare for their families. They still don’t have those basic needs of life – from clean water to adequate security and regular power supply that other nations take for granted. This means there remains a whole lot more to be done.