NASS Didn’t Explore Other Options Before Rivers Assembly Takeover – Presidency

JONATHAN-MARK-TambuwalThe Presidency has described as ‘hasty’ the move by the National Assembly to take over the legislative functions of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

But in separate reactions, the Senate and House of Representatives said the move was necessary to safeguard democracy and prevent the situation from degenerating any further.

Information Nigeria recalls that the Senate, on Thursday, had passed a resolution empowering the National Assembly to assume the legislative functions of the Rivers State House of Assembly pending when issues that led to a full blown display of violence are resolved.

To this end, a meeting between the President of the Senate, David Mark, and Speaker of the House, Aminu Tambuwal, would be held to come up with modalities for the running of the Rivers Assembly.

However, the action of the National Assembly has drawn the condemnation of the Presidency which believes a political solution to the crisis in the state should have been explored first before the decision to take over the functions of the Assembly.

Speaking on Friday, Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Dr. Ahmed Gulak said, “The National Assembly’s decision to take over the functions of the Rivers State House of Assembly is too hasty.”

The presidential aide recalled that the Adamawa State House of Assembly was closed down for three months, the Ondo State House of Assembly too for almost one year and the National Assembly did not take over the functions of these Houses of Assembly.

According to Gulak, “It is always better to allow some of these crises to be resolved politically rather than such actions by the National Assembly.

“If care is not taken, the National Assembly may end up taking over the responsibilities of all state houses of assembly which will not be good for our democracy.”

In response to the Presidency’s stance, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information and Media, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, who spoke with a PUNCH correspondent, said that the takeover would continue for “as long as it takes to bring a lasting peace to the House of Assembly.”

“Note that the constitution did not specify any time limit. We will however make efforts to restore peace to the state assembly as soon as possible,” Abaribe said.

Speaking in the same vein, the spokesman for the House of Representatives, Rep. Zakari Mohammed said the intervention of the National Assembly was timely as the crisis would have “snowballed to something else” had it not taken the step.

“At the point we came in, there were two Speakers of the state House of Assembly.

“There was violence and we were headed for anarchy; so, the right thing to do was to invoke Section 11 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended),” Mr. Mohammed, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, said.

“The section empowers us to take over the duty of a state assembly whenever it is unable to perform its functions.

“We did the right thing to rescue democracy,” he stressed.