By Levinus Nwabughiogu, Abuja
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Thursday employed unusual tact and deftly sidestepped a motion to discuss President Muhammadu Buhari’s volte-face on the parliament’s invitation to brief it on the escalating security situation in the country.
It will be recalled that the House on December 1, took a resolution via a motion and invited the President to appear before it for explaination.
The invitation was expressly occasioned by the gruesome killing of over 43 rice farmers in Zarbamari village, Borno State penultimate Saturday.
The Presidency was reported to have earlier consented to the invitation and pledged Buhari’s commitment to honour it after Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila conveyed the resolution of the House to him.
Date for the appearance had been slated for today, Thursday, December 10, 2020.
Obviously excited by this “feat” of securing an appointment with the number one citizen of the country, the House Spokesman, Benjamin Kalu celebrated it to the high heavens, saying in a press conference that the 9th House through the leadership of Gbajabiamila had broken a jinx, scoring a first in that regard.
He even quipped on the previous assembly, saying they withheld the budget of the President who in turn ignored their invitations.
But at the eleventh hour when Nigerians were very much expectant of hearing from their President, speculations became rife that the President would pooh-pooh the invitation.
True to the situation, the speculations were later given credence by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) when he ruled that the Parliament lacked the constitutional powers to summon the President.
The Senate also joined in the fray, prompting verbal fisticuffs between them and the deputy minority leader of the House, Hon. Toby Okechukwu.
At plenary on Thursday, a member from Rivers State, Hon. Solomon Bob (PDP) invoked Order 6 of the House to seek explaination from the Speaker about why the President had obviously made a volte-face.
Relying on the Order of Privileges, Bob said: “Last week, I recall that this House passed a resolution. Subsequently, I read that the president has considered our request.”
He however expressed shock that the President later u-turned on his earlier promise to appear before the House.
He therefore demanded explaination from the Speaker.
“If this House can pass a resolution and we have a situation where such a resolution is abused, it means our very existence is being questioned. I think that the speaker should address us on the current situation. The entire country is watching. It bothers me.
While the lawmaker was on his feet speaking, a pin-drop silence and tranquillity fell on the chamber as the lawmakers present listened with rapt attention, thinking of how the Speaker would handle the delicate situation.
But Gbajabiamila employed an utmost legislative tact and finesse.
On a good day, such point of order would have been sustained and allowed to be debated. But obviously, the Speaker was not in the mood to allow controversy continue to fester.
In a split of seconds, he gave his response and hit his gavel.
“Hon; your point of Privilege is well noted. We wait for official communications from Mr. President as opposed to newspaper publications”, he swiftly ruled and moved on with the House proceedings.
The House swallowed hard and followed on.