Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has said he cannot stop members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the lower legislative chamber of the National Assembly from defecting to other political parties.
He made this known at the 11thAnnual Daily Trust Dialogue with the theme, “Incumbency and impunity in politics-safeguarding our democracy beyond 2015” yesterday in Abuja.
Various speakers at the dialogue including a former President of the Civil Liberties Organisation, Ms. Ayo Obe; a former Chairman of the Transition Monitoring group, Festus Okoye, and a Senior Fellow at Centre for Democracy, Dr. Jibrin Ibrahim, expressed fears about the rising level of impunity in the country ahead of the 2015 general elections.
Tambuwal, who was represented at the event by the deputy spokesperson for the House, Mr. Victor Ogene, said faulting the Speaker for reading the letter by members, who defected from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress, was an “encouragement of impunity”, was inappropriate.
According to him, “All of us know that no fewer than four governors had defected from their political parties and issues were not made out of it. If some members, representing different federal constituencies decide to defect, I don’t think it is right for anybody to expect Mr. Speaker not to read the correspondence that comes to his table.
“He is first and foremost an embodiment and expression of the will of all members of the House”.
Ogene also faulted the 100-page letter written by the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in response to the 50 questions given to her by the House Committee on Finance.
He said: “If as a student you are asked to give four examples of a particular question and you go ahead to show your expertise by giving 12, I am sure you might even fail that subject.
“The minister was ably requested to give answers to 50 questions surrounding the management of the Nigerian economy. In writing a 100 page letter, she had probably written two pages as answers to one question. But as a House we are still expecting answers to those questions which form the fulcrum for the preparation of the 2014 budget.
“It is only in this part of the world that a minister can talk of being harassed by a parliament. It is the duty of the parliament to hold the executives accountable to the governed and we will continue to do that”, he said.