By SONI DANIEL, ASSISTANT EDITOR
ABUJA— Simmering tension in the House of Representatives over attempt by some lawmakers to unseat Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, might have accounted for one of the reasons why the leadership shut down proceedings for a week to calm frayed nerves, Vanguardhas learnt.Those at the forefront of edging out Tambuwal, are said to be latching on the fact that the leadership has not paid them ‘proper allowances’ since the inception of the current session of the National Assembly.The protagonists are said to be angry that Tambuwal had used his position to gain popularity among the members and Nigerians without taking ‘adequate care of them’ as was done by his predecessors.
Findings by Vanguard revealed that contrary to the belief that the anti-Tambuwal lawmakers had backed down on their plot to remove him, they were actually working hard to achieve their ambition.
The lawmakers opposed to the Speaker had two weeks ago attempted to stage a ‘coup’ against him by asking for an upward review of the allowances but the pro-Tambuwal group, which appears to be in the majority, quickly mobilized and frustrated the move.
The anti-Tambuwal group, which has more of first-time lawmakers in its fold, could hardly summon a meeting to firm up their plot when the plan was leaked to Tambuwal loyalists.
However, it was gathered last night that the anti-Tambuwal group had not given up on its plot to get at the Speaker because of what some of them see as ‘Tambuwal’s growing popularity’.
One of the anti-Tambuwal lawmakers admitted that it was in a bid by the leadership to avert a major confrontation with the angry lawmakers, who are mostly first-timers that the leadership shut down the House for a week.
Why Reps declared week’s recess
Although the lawmaker admitted that the members were also using the opening to oversee some of the projects being implemented under the 2012 budget, he made it clear that the budget issue was more of a ‘smokescreen’ to buy time and heal the crack in the House.
Another lawmaker in the group noted, “The truth is that the House Leadership is using the vacation to defuse growing pressure from the members and seek support from wherever it can find.
Reminded that the House leadership was keen on verifying the extent of the budget implementation by the administration, the source asked rhetorically, “How many places or projects dotted across the length and breadth of this country can the committees inspect in three or four days?
“Look, let me say that before long the real truth of the adjournment will be blown open for Nigerians to see.
Upward review of allowances
“In reality, we want to know why Tambuwal administration started paying us only N15 million as constituency allowances per quarter and eventually moved it up to N21 million.
“Currently, there are plans to increase it to N27 million per quarter following last week’s protests by some members. Do not forget that during Bankole’s time, each member got as much as N27 per quarter.
“So, I can tell you that there are some issues that require explanations from the leadership and Nigerians will soon get to hear.
But the Chairman House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Zakari Mohammed, insisted in an interview with Vanguard that the need to carry out serious oversight over projects captured in the current budget informed the one- week recess by the House.
Zakari stated that the members needed the short period to undertake visits to the projects said to have been executed by MDAs since it is the same President who presented that budget to the members for approval.
Need to carry out oversight functions
He dismissed as untenable claims that the leadership was buying time to calm frayed nerves as the members were working together as a united family.
Zakari pointed out that those behind the plot failed woefully to get the required support to advance their wicked plan because the majority of members were satisfied with the transparent and all-inclusive leadership being provided by the Speaker.
He said, “But Tambuwal is not worried because he believes that he should work for the overall wellbeing of the Nigerian people on whose mandate he stands.
“The protagonists of the move failed to achieve their goal because the matter leaked to the rest of the members even before the conclusion of the discussion and it became a hard sale like a bad product.
“It would be difficult for those planning Tambuwal’s ouster to get enough support for their plot because majority of the members are fully aware of the desperation to edge him out and plant a stooge to undo the Nigerian people but that will not happen because we now work as members of the same family.”
“The assurance we want to give to the Nigerian people is that the unity of the House of Representatives is not negotiable because to compromise would amount to selling out the interest of the people of Nigeria who elected us to serve them,” he said.
Another member of the House stated that contrary to insinuations that the Presidency was behind the move to unseat the House leadership; it was actually some individuals who wanted to do so for their selfish interest.
The lawmaker, who hails from the South-South zone, explained that the Presidency has neither called a meeting of lawmakers of the region nor sent an emissary to them in the last one year.
“We are not aware that the Presidency has any interest in what some members are doing in the House,” the lawmaker said.
The source said that the major grouse of the anti-Tambuwal group is that he does not ‘source’ for funds from the Presidency and other prime MDAs to share to them, a practice that is said to have been very rampant in the past.
Tambuwal is said to have found himself in a tight corner because since he does not want to be seen as a stooge of the Presidency, he has also not approached anyone for ‘support’ for members as some of his predecessors are said to have done.
Besides, President Jonathan, it was learnt, has also not bought into the practice of giving out ‘handouts’ to lawmakers in order to buy their support for his major policies and programmes as was done by some of his predecessors.
The practice had led to a major furore in the days of a former President, when lawmakers brought bribe money in sags to the open during debates over the ignoble ‘third term agenda’
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