By Ohia Israel
On October 28, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, formally defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC). According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), he announced his defection shortly after the House Leader, Mulikat Akande-Adeola (PDP-Oyo), moved a motion for the House to adjourn sitting till Dec. 3.
“In pursuit of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and in view of the political developments in my state, I wish to formally inform you of my membership of the APC,” Tambuwal said. “This is in continuation of the great sacrifice and also the need to ensure development of constitutional democracy,’’ Tambuwal was reported to have said.
Meanwhile, since after his defection, there have been disquiets within the Presidency and the PDP, according to recent developments. For instance, the Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba, has withdrawn the police personnel attached to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Right Hon. Aminu Tambuwal who defected to the APC.
In a statement signed by the Acting Force Public Relations Officer, CP Emmanuel Ojukwu, which is titled; ‘IGP Order Redeployment Of Its Personnel Attached To Right Hon Aminu W. Tanbuwal, CFR’ the Police force said: “In view of the recent defection by the Right Honourable Aminu Waziri Tanbuwal, CFR, the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC), and having regard to the clear provision of section 68(1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has redeployed its personnel attached to his office.”
However, tongues continue to wag over the withdrawal of the speaker’s security details, as the Ikeja branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has asked the Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), Suleiman Abba, to resign from office for ordering the withdrawal of the policemen attached to Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal.
In a statement by its chairman, Yinka Farounbi, the Ikeja NBA said: “To say the least, the action of the IGP, apart from being a usurpation of the functions of the third tier of government, the judiciary, is the most disservice and the greatest threat to our democracy, particularly the 2015 general elections”.
The Bar also took a swipe at the acting police boss, accusing him of “arrogating to himself the power of 240 members of the House of Representatives and removing the Speaker and went ahead to constitute himself as a court of law and declared the seat of the Speaker vacant”.
The statement added: “Is the IGP not telling the whole world that the police, meant to be for all Nigerians, is a PDP police and that the forthcoming elections in 2015 will be in accordance with whims and caprices of our PDP police?
“Where then is the neutrality of police in the political system of the country?” The NBA, therefore, challenged Abba to tell the nation who the substantive Speaker is and when “he intends to conduct a bye-election into ‘his declared vacant seat’ of Hon. nay dishonorable Aminu Tambuwal. In order to save us enormous resources, can the IGP tell us the result of the 2015 elections so as to limit us to preparation for swearing in only?”
Just like NBA, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) also lent its voice to the condemnation of Inspector General of Police Suleiman Abba’s withdrawal of House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Tambuwal’s security aides.
In a statement entitled “Nothing must happen to Tambuwal”, signed by NLC General Secretary, Dr Peter Ozo-Eson, the congress said withdrawing the security details of the Speaker for defecting to the All Progressives Congress (APC) is unconstitutional as no section of the Constitution states that the Speaker must come from the majority party.
The NLC said if the police did not withdraw the security aides of Ondo State Governor Olusegun Mimiko and former Borno State Governor Ali Modu Sherrif for defecting from the Labour Party and the APC to the PDP, there was no sense in withdrawing Tambuwal’s aides.
Demanding the immediate restoration of Tambuwal’s security, the NLC said the police and other security agents who carried out the action should hide their heads in shame.
The statement reads: “We at the Nigeria Labour Congress are appalled by the withdrawal of security details of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, ostensibly because he had defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“The act is shameful, distasteful, and unconstitutional and demonstrates our parochial sense of power and very little knowledge of history. No part of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria says the Speaker of the House of Representatives should come from the majority party.
“Section 50(1)(b) only says, “There shall be …a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves…’
“In the Second Republic, the Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, was elected from the ranks of NPP, not just an opposition party but the third strong , after UPN and NPN. We have other precedents across the world.
“We find it appropriate to cite the examples of Mimiko and Ali Modu-Sheriff, governor of Ondo State and former governor of Borno State respectively. Their security details were not withdrawn when they defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“It gives us concern that our political leaders are determined to learn very little about democracy and always seem too keen to overheat the polity over things that count for little.
“The police and other security agencies complicit in this disgusting conduct should hold their heads in shame. Herein lies the essence of strong institutions which we have always advocated.
“For those who take pleasure in converting to personal use public/state institutions, today’s men soon become yesterday’s men. What goes around comes around.
“In light of the foregoing, we demand immediate restoration of Tambuwal’s security details and all the rights and privileges that accrue to the Office of the Speaker. It is not about Tambuwal, it is about the office which he holds.
“And in any case, only few, arguably, will contest that he has not discharged and acquitted himself as speaker. We would like to be on record that we will not fold our hands while little minds threaten our hard-earned democracy. Nothing should happen to Tambuwal.”
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has warned the Federal Government to desist from compounding illegality by inducing members of the House of Representatives to sign a paper seeking to reconvene the House ahead of the Dec. 3rd adjourned date.
“We have heard from the grapevine that the FG is inducing legislators with a view to reconvening the House, but this will amount to piling illegality upon illegality since only a resolution by all principal officers of the House can reconvene the House,” the party said in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
“We cannot put anything beyond a government that will unlawfully withdraw the security details of the country’s number four citizen, who has not been removed as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, simply because he decamped from the ruling party to the opposition; for as long as he remains Speaker, Rt Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal is entitled to all the statutory perks of his office,” it said.
The APC also on its own accused the Administration of President Goodluck Jonathan of ruling by vindictiveness, rather than in accordance with the rule of law.
The party said despotism, arbitrariness and impunity are the watch words of the Jonathan Administration, hence it has desecrated most national institutions, including the judiciary, and has now put the legislature in its cross hair.
“The legislature is one of the last standing institutions after the onslaught of the ravaging Jonathan Administration, which has nothing but contempt for the concept of the separation of powers, the rule of law and perception of the country by the international community.
“For this government, it is power for the sake of power, not for the achievement of anything ennobling. That is why the police and SSS details of a man who remains the country’s number four can be removed without consideration to what the law says.
That is why public funds will be used to induce lawmakers to sign for the reconvening of the House when it is clear that only the principal officers, and not even the Speaker alone, can reconvene the House before the adjourned date,” it said.
APC said it would not be surprised if the lawless, vindictive and predictable Jonathan Administration will even prevent the Speaker from accessing his residential quarters, offices and even the planes in the official fleet for carrying out his official assignments.
“This President has said publicly that he does not give a damn. This Administration has shown clearly that it does not believe in the rule of law. Therefore it does not matter to the President or his Administration what the civilized world thinks of the country, as long as he can have his way, using all sorts of dirty tactics including unbridled corruption that is the hallmark of the Administration.
“We are therefore calling on all concerned citizens to condemn what is happening in our country today before one desperate power monger brings the country crashing down on all of us. This is because even if the Jonathan Administration is voted out of office next year, it will take a long time to reverse the harm that is being done to national institutions, which have become punitive tools in the hands of an increasingly despotic leader,” the party said
Meanwhile, the Tambuwal’s case may turn the assembly into crisis as the Senate adjourned its sitting till one week; Senate President David Mark explained that the Senate’s decision was in solidarity with their colleagues in the House of Representatives, over the withdrawal of the security details of the office of the Speaker, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal.
He said, “We are not to interfere in the internal affairs of each House. However, as Chairman of the National Assembly, I cannot fold my arms or pretend that all is well about the current crisis.
“I am, therefore, going to do all I can to resolve the current impasse. Furthermore, the matter is already in a court of law; we cannot therefore discuss the issues here. I want to assure all of you that I will do the needful to protect and defend the legislature at all cost.”
The senators, led by Mark, immediately went into a closed door meeting in one of the committee rooms within the complex to further perfect their strategies.
Meanwhile, a People’s Democratic Party Chieftain, Adeseye Ogunlewe’s reaction to the defection of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, to the opposition party, is that of worry at the possibility of such defection causing trouble in the National Assembly.
The former Minister, who was the guest of Sunrise Daily on Channels Television, believes that Nigeria might be in for a rough time ahead of the 2015 general elections, especially as political parties conclude the nomination of candidates for different elective positions by December 3.
“If majority of the members that are in the House of Reps and Senate fail to be nominated to contest election, there will be problem because they will not have anything to lose again, other than to cause crisis in the National Assembly.
“But if the two parties manage it well and allow them to continue – the majority of them – they will have the interest of Nigeria at heart and maintain peace in the National Assembly.
“After December 3, there will be an election. If Tambuwal is elected as Governor of Sokoto State, he will behave in the interest of Nigeria in the House of Reps. If he loses, he has no stake again and things will be more turbulent.
“The National Assembly is so critical in the running of government in Nigeria. Almost everything can be approved and the government will move on,” he warned.
The former senator posited that with Tambuwal acting as Speaker for the rest of his tenure, after having lost his purported governorship bid “he can do a lot of damage because he may never be able to come into the limelight again just like other past speakers have problem; from (Salisu) Buhari to (Ghali) Na’Abba, Aminu Maisari and (Dimeji) Bankole.”
Asked to explain the logic behind his postulation of the possibility of crisis in the House, he said, “PDP needs 240 members out of the 360 to impeach him…its difficult because the opposition will also not want it to happen.
“APC will not want you to pick out of their members to make up your 240, PDP will like to make the 240 and there will be confusion.”