The friction that characterized the relationship between the House of Representatives and President Goodluck Jonathan in 2012 may have spilled into the new year as a correspondence from the President to members of the Green Chambers asking for its input in the forthcoming celebration of Nigeria’s Centenary celebration on Wednesday, pitched the lawmakers against themselves.
The president, in his letter, had asked the House to allow the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, to brief the House on the preparation for the centenary celebration.
But the Speaker, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal, had barely read the letter than the Deputy Minority Leader of the House, Honourable Samaila Kawu (ANPP, Kano), raised a point of order, asking the House not to acknowledge the letter.
The lawmaker stated that the president’s letter was in breach of privilege of the House, saying “Mr President had refused to honour our invitation in the past, so we cannnot honour his own too.”
Corroborating his colleague’s stance, the House Minority Leader, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila (ACN, Lagos), said “respect should be reciprocal. If the President could ignore our invitation last year, I think we should do the same to him by rejecting this letter. The celebration is going to make us to spend more money at a time we are even saying that we lack money to fund the budget.”
But another member, Honourable Linus Okorie (PDP, Ebonyi), however called for restraints so as not to be seen as always confrontational to the president. “We should be seen as working to promote the interests of the people and not opposing the position of the president all the time”, he said.
Honourable Abike Dabiri-Erewa (ACN, Lagos), on her part, also urged her colleagues not to make a mountain out of the president’s letter, stressing that those against it should wait for the time when the issue would be raised for discussion.
In his ruling, the Speaker, however, urged members to exercise patience pending the time a resolution would be taken on the matter.