Speaker House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila and Deputy Speaker Ahmed Wase clashed Wednesday at the chamber during plenary.
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 (APC).
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 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 Gbajajabiamila was responding, saying, “Perhaps, DS, you don’t appreciate the importance of NILDS like some of us do. I think NILDS is very important,” Wase 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 again, Wase replied the Speaker: “The parliament is about us, not about ‘I.”
Shocked by his deputy’s outburst, Gbajaabiamila 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.”
Blueprint correspondent had reported earlier Tuesday that strong indications had emerged that the relationship between the two top officials had gone from bad to worse, as Wase was allegedly shunning meetings and interactions with Gbajabiamila.
A source in the leadership of the House, who confirmed Wase’s recent disappearance in the leadership processions into the chamber Thursday and Tuesday, said the deputy speaker is “angry” with the Speaker.
The official, in a written response to our correspondent, said: “There is development. Wase no longer attends the leadership meeting before the plenary.
“He does not follow the Speaker’s procession any longer. He did it last week and even today. He is angry. It is like he no longer wants to go close to Gbajabiamila. Last week, they made an attempt to amend the House Rules to take the voting pattern back to a secret ballot.”
There was a drama on the floor of the House on May 17, 2023, as members bickered over the adjournment of the plenary for the induction ceremony for members-elect of the National Assembly.
The two-week induction ceremony, which ended last week, was to expose newly elected and re-elected members of the coming 10th National Assembly to legislative procedures.
The first batch had their sessions last week, while the second batch is being trained this week.
The last time the House held a session before the two-week ritual was May 4.
As the House resumed plenary Wednesday last week, a returning member, Ibrahim Isiaka, raised a point of order, citing Order 6 Rules 1 and 2 of the House bothering on the privileges of members.
Isiaka had said: “My point of order is that today, as we speak, an induction programme is ongoing at the International Conference Centre, which I am privileged, together with other members, to be part of Batch B.”
Shettima backs Akpabio, Barau
In a related development, Vice President-elect Senator Kashim Shettima has thrown his weight behind Senators Godswill Akpabio and Jibrin Barau for the positions of Senate President and Deputy Senate President in the yet-to-be-inaugurated 10th Senate.
Speaking while receiving in audience the over 70 Senators-Elect rooting for the emergence of Akpabio and Barau as Senate President and Deputy, Shettima described the choice of Akpabio as the number three citizen in the country as the best decision made by the APC leadership and the President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the interest of a stable polity based on competence.
The lawmakers-elect under the aegis of Stability Group, was led on the visit by Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South).
“Politics shouldn’t be a means of disuniting our people. It should rather be a means of uniting us. The President-elect and the vice-president-elect are both Muslims. It is in the interest of the stability and unity of this country that the next position be given to the Christian faith, if not, it would further validate the alleged Islamisation agenda of the APC-led administration. It would be perceived as a gratuitous insult to our Christian brothers and sisters who stuck out their necks to support us.
” That was why I was quite pleased with the choice of the party leadership that my uncommon brother and leader in the person of Senator Godswill Akpabio should be the number three citizen of this country. The stability of this nation is much more important than whatever political considerations we may think of. We need to have a stable and united nation before we can talk about politics and positions. This is what our leader could do to unite this country in the current circumstances,” he said.
Explaining his support for Akpabio, the former Borno state governor said: “He has the exposure, competence and experience to occupy the office of the Senate President in the 10th Senate, ditto Senator Barau, his deputy. Apart from the need for religious balancing, competence and experience also came into play in our choices.
“Senator Abdulaziz Yari, is my brother and friend. We became governors together from 2011-2019 on the same political platform, but the nation is superior to other personal considerations. I am quite happy with what I see here today. It is a reflection of those who crave for the stability and unity of this country in a bipartisan manner.”
Shettima, who thanked Rivers state Governor Nyesom Wike and his Ebonyi counterpart, David Umahi, for their contributions and support for the party, also said: “The Governor-General of the South-South, is a man of honour and integrity, whatever you see is what you get as far as Wike is concerned. These are people that have contributed immensely to the stability of this country. Umahi is the best-performing Governor in the South East. He’s a man of honour and integrity. He wanted to contest for the Senate Leadership but he had to drop it in reverence to the party’s decision.”
While promising to link up with senators-elect yet to buy into the party’s choices, Shettima said: “I have seen the names of those who are yet to join us. Be rest assured that we will positively engage them and make them see the reasons why they have to come on board. My principal, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a veteran politician. He knows how to go about bringing them into the fold before the inauguration of the National Assembly.”
Responding on behalf of his supporters, Senator Akpabio congratulated Shettima on his election, saying “your choice is putting a square peg in a square hole”.
The former minority leader in the Senate also told their host that the group’s membership cuts across all political parties, all with the sole purpose of producing the leadership for the 10th Senate to stablise Nigeria.
“We know very well that once somebody crosses the door into the Red Chambers, you are no longer a Senator of a political party but a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Stability Group members are going to work with the incoming administration to evaluate the policies and ensure the stability of the country.
“We are not here because the party zoned the position to the most ranked Senator from the South-South, Senator Godswll Akpabio. We came together to ensure national cohesion and the stability of the polity and to ensure that NIGERIA moves forward in the right direction,” he said.