- Say Wase’s ‘rebellion’ means anything can happen during contest
- House approves extension of 2022 Appropriation Act from June to December 2023
- Don’t approve fresh loan for Buhari, Afe Babalola tells NASS
There was a mild drama on the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, as the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, and the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, clashed in the chamber during plenary.
The development, however, provoked a feeling among the members that Gbajabiamila’s support for the speakership candidate of APC for the incoming 10th House, Tajudeen Abbas, was the crux of the matter.
The fight might not also be unconnected with the speculation that Wase was leading other aggrieved members to impeach Gbajabiamila.
However, Nigerians who reacted to the drama on Wednesday, predicted what they described as shocker for the All Progressives Congress leaders, who had endorsed candidates for the leadership positions at the National Assembly.
According to them, Wase’s outburst was a reflection of the strength of the underground moves against the choices of the party leaders, which means anything can happen during the contest.
Gbajabiamila had reportedly recommended Tajudeen Abbas and Benjamin Kalu for Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the coming 10th House, leading to their endorsement by the ruling All Progressives Congress.
Wase, who is eyeing the seat of Speaker, is a member of the G-7, a group of aspirants aggrieved with the leadership zoning formula of the APC, which plans to adopt a member to run against the party’s candidate.
Towards the end of the session, Gbajabiamila asked the Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business, Abubakar Fulata, to prepare a light order paper for Thursday as the sitting should close by 2 pm to allow members to attend an event at the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies.
Miffed by the announcement, Wase said, “Mr. Speaker, I’m getting to see this getting so funny and we have lost quite a number of periods of time. For the commissioning of projects for God’s sake! Why do we have to shelve a lot of activities that we have just to go and witness the commissioning of a project of NILDS?
“I want to beg, sir, that we should do our functions. Those who have the interest to go, they have the right to. But our main primary function in this parliament is to make law and our citizens should be our priority.”
As Gbajabiamila was responding, saying, “Perhaps, DS, you don’t appreciate the importance of NILDS like some of us do. I think NILDS is very important,” the Deputy Speaker interjected, “I have every information and idea of what NILDS is!”
The Speaker stated, “It was set up by this same institution by statute. We are not adjourning the House to go to NILDS; what I said was, ‘Let’s try and make it light and leave here by two.’ If you want, we can resume by 10 am. We will do our work but we will adjourn this House at 2 pm. I will witness the NILDS (event) because it is important to me.”
Rising against, Wase replied to the Speaker, “The parliament is about us, not about ‘I.’”
Shocked by the Deputy Speaker’s outburst, Gbajabiamila said, “Mr. Deputy Speaker, this is the first time in history…I have been in this House for many years, perhaps even longer than anybody here…this is the first time in history that a Deputy Speaker will be challenging what the Speaker is saying.”
Wase fired back, “I don’t understand what you mean by challenging, sir, that I should not make my contribution?”
Ignoring the Deputy Speaker’s last comment, Gbajabiamila said, “Let me repeat please: Chairman Business and Rules, please make the order paper very light. We are adjourning this House by 2 pm tomorrow.”
Buhari passes full 2023 budget implementation to Tinubu’s administration
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives, on Wednesday, approved the extension of the implementation period of the capital component of the 2022 Appropriation Act by six months, from June to December 2023.
The House, as a Committee of Supply, considered and approved the request made by President Muhammadu Buhari on behalf of the Federal Government.
The legislation was titled ‘A Bill for an Act to Amend the Appropriation Act, 2022 to Extend the Implementation of the Capital Aspect of the Appropriation Act, 2022 from 30 June 2023 to 31 December 2023.’
Based on the request of the Executive arm of the government, the National Assembly had extended the lifespan of last year’s budget from December 31, 2022, to June 30, 2023, before the presidential request for further extension.
The latest extension is coming as Buhari leaves power and Bola Tinubu is sworn in as President on Monday.
The Tinubu’s administration will be left with concurrent implementation of the 2022 and 2023 Appropriation Acts.
The House also passed the 2021, 2022 and 2023 budgets of the Niger Delta Development Commission, with the budgetary estimates for the three years totaling N2.29tn.
The passage of the budgets followed the consideration and adoption of the reports by the House Committee on NDDC on the proposed estimates earlier on Tuesday, as laid by the Chairman, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo.
The House passed a budget with estimates totaling N485,794,575,131, of which the sum of N28,247,952,510 is for personnel expenditure, the sum of N14,535,485,480 is for overhead expenditure, N2,916,562,010 is for internal capital expenditure and N440,094,575,131 is for development projects for the service of the NDDC for the financial year ending 31 March 2022.
The House also passed a budget with estimates totaling N928,297,049,364, of which the sum of N34,247,952,510 is for personnel expenditure, N16,521,485,480 is for overhead expenditure, N3,719,062,675 is for internal capital expenditure and the sum of N543,808,548,699 is for development projects for the service of the NDDC for the financial year ending 31 March 2023.
The House also passed a budget with estimates totaling N876,000,000,000, of which the sum of N34,247,952,510 is for personnel expenditure, N17,477,830,723 is for overhead expenditure, N3,719,062,675 is for internal capital expenditure and the sum of N490,555,154,092 is for development projects for the service of the NDDC for the financial year ending 31 March 2024.
Don’t approve fresh loan for Buhari, Afe Babalola tells NASS
In another development, the Chancellor of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Aare Afe Babalola SAN, on Wednesday, cautioned the National Assembly against approving any fresh loan facility or request regarding financial matters for the outgoing government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Babalola, who expressed disbelief that Buhari could be seeking a fresh loan despite the country’s mounting debt profile, said the National Assembly should not accede to such a request a few days before the end of the tenure of the Buhari administration.
He spoke in Ado Ekiti at the 12th Aare Afe Babalola Annual Public Lecture organized by the Nigerian Bar Association, Ado Ekiti Branch titled, “Addressing the Nigerian economic challenges through the instrumentality of the law and future economic challenges,” which was delivered by the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Jos, Prof. Joash Amupitan SAN.
Buhari had recently written to the Senate to seek its approval for an $800 million loan, saying, “Please note that the Federal Executive Council approved an additional loan facility to the tune of USD800 million to be secured from the World Bank for the National Social Safety Net Programme and the need to request for your consideration and approval to ensure early implementation.”
“The Senate may wish to note that the programme is intended to expand coverage of shock responsive safety net support among the poor and vulnerable Nigerians. This will assist them in coping with the costs of meeting basic needs.”
But Babalola said, “I do not expect the parliament to accede to that request. How can you be an undeclared bankrupt country and yet be borrowing more money? I do not think that any right-thinking person will give us a loan with trillions of Naira debt. I believe and sincerely hope that the National Assembly will not approve it.
“The type of elections being held in the country cannot produce the right people. If we had the right people in the National Assembly they would have instantly turned down the request of President Buhari to borrow $800 million. That is why I am an advocate of a new constitution and I want you to join me in that crusade.”
The guest lecturer, Prof. Amupitan, who said that Chapter II of the 1999 Constitution must be made justiciable, added that implementing the chapter would promote the well-being, welfare and security of the average citizen, promote economic growth and development and ensure an egalitarian society.
He also urged the country’s apex court to move from just error correction to policy courts, saying, “We need the likes of Lord Denning, Justice Marshall of the United States, Justice Kayode Eso, Justice Obaseki, Justice Oputa, Justice Niki Tobi, and the like to reactivate the era of judicial activism in Nigeria.”