- Category: Politics
- Published on Wednesday, 26 May 2010 06:21
- Written by Admin
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Tempers flared in the House of Representatives yesterday as members accused the leadership of being responsible for the leakage of an agreement to collapse the capital vote in the 2010 budget and increase the quarterly allocation for each member to N42 million from N27 milllion to the press.
The decision to jerk up the quarterly allocation and to collapse the capital vote was taken two weeks ago at an executive session, where the leadership was forced to accept the recommendations of a 37-ad-hoc member committee which looked into the finance of the House Services Committee.
A member from Imo State, Hon. Independence Ogunlewe, had raised order of privileges, which should be taken immediately yesterday, but would like the House to dissolve into a closed-door session. His request did not go down well with the Deputy Speaker, Bayero Nafada, who presided over the plenary in the absence of Speaker Dimeji Bankole, who was away for an official engagement in Lagos.
“What is the matter? What is the issue? The Deputy Speaker asked Ogunlewe, while reminding him that the powers to determine if the House would go into a closed-door session resided with the presiding officer. Hon. Ogunlewe replied him: “It is an issue that is sensitive, it concerns you as the Speaker and me and should not be taken in front of camera.” ssues came to a head as the Deputy Speaker insisted that Ogunlewe should state the issue, which he refused to do. embers who were divided over the position of the Deputy Speaker and Ogunlewe decided to walk around the floor causing tension, which lasted for over 20 minutes.
The Deputy Speaker was later persuaded to call for an executive session. fter 90 minutes of closed-door meeting, the House returned to plenary and the Deputy Speaker declined to announce the decision taken. owever, it was gathered that the session was tense and a decision could not be reached on the vital issues which came up. The closed-door was stormy. I must confess, the truth is that we were yet to arrive at a conclusion on some of the issues raised. We agreed to allow the leadership consult more, but I can assure you that we will arrive at a positive conclusion.
“We understand ourselves, all the issues will be resolved amicably. The reports in some newspapers yesterday were discussed. Some members were not happy that what we agreed upon at a closed-door meeting was leaked to the press.
“ Can you imagine the damages such publication will do to members, including the leadership, after all , we are members of the House.
What do you think our constituents will be thinking about us?
That is why some of us were not happy at all,” a member said. The member, who begged not to be named, said the Speaker who had been away to Lagos on official assignment had been informed about the row in the House and had initiated moves to douse the tension by sending text messages to some of the aggrieved members. Chairman, Rules and Business, Hon Solomon Ita Enang, however, denied strongly that the issue of collapsing the capital vote or the publications in the newspapers were discussed at the closed-door session.
Instead, he said the extent of legislative work done by the House was discussed ahead of the celebration of three years of the present assembly. Also discussed was the request by the Presidency to cut down the bench mark for this year’s budget from $67 to $58 in view of the sharp fall in the price of crude oil at the international market in the past few weeks. The closed-door meeting also discussed the number of bills pending with the standing committees and the Senate, as a result of the frosty relationship between the House and the Senate.
“We thought that discussing all this sensitive issues in the public glare will be too hot and further heat the polity, that is why we decided to discuss them behind the camera,” he said. Hon Enang added that the issue of consolidation of salary for the staff of the National Assembly was also discussed, as well as the need for the House to extend its sitting to enable it pass the amended Appropriation Act. In view of the fact that the Senate had not done much on bills from the House, he said that the House agreed to send a delegation to meet with the leadership of the Senate on the issue. According to him, the House team would be led by the House Leader, Tunde Akogun, himself and the chairman of Committee on Justice, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson.