By John Ameh:
Amid a stormy closed-door session on Tuesday, members of the House of Representatives failed to agree on pressure to take tougher measures against ailing President Umaru Yar‘Adua.
Investigations revealed that some lawmakers had canvassed the impeachment of the President as a solution to the tension in the country and the secrecy surrounding his ill-health. But the majority opinion reportedly opposed it.
A rowdy session in plenary on Tuesday morning over the state of the nation had forced the Speaker, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, to call for a two-hour Executive Session (closed-door meeting).
It was gathered that at the meeting, some members expressed disgust over the manner the country had been allegedly taken hostage by a cabal that had made access to Yar‘Adua impossible.
However, a move by the embittered lawmakers to consider the impeachment option was said to have been rejected by the majority.
A source at the meeting, said, ”The impeachment will not fly now for obvious reasons.
”The reason are simple; we all have our views of the ideal world but when you are holding public office, things are different.
“Yar‘Adua, as sickly as he is, still has his support base. There are people who are sympathetic to his situation, whether you like it or not.
“Those people who believe in Yar‘Adua, you need to consult widely with them. They have to agree with your views, especially in a large parliament like ours, before you can achieve your goal.
“On this ground, impeachment will not fly; hence that option did not make meaning to most members.”
Investigations showed that many lawmakers had also argued that there were no security reports indicating that Yar‘Adua had attempted to stop Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan from performing presidential duties since he returned to the country on Wednesday last week.
Another lawmaker said, ”It is a very complicated matter; we cannot work on speculations that there is interference.
“The National Assembly in its efforts to restore confidence in governance, empowered Jonathan to act as President.
”We have made enquiries and the information at our disposal is that Yar‘Adua has asked Jonathan to carry on as Acting President while he stays out of power for now.
”If there are problems, Jonathan has not brought them to the notice of the National Assembly, that he is being hindered from performing his duties.
“So, the House resolved that it would not work on speculations when the Acting President has not reported any hindrances to his work.”
Findings, however, indicated that some lawmakers pointed to the fact that the deployment of troops during Yar‘Adua‘ return without Jonathan’s knowledge was an interference.
A member from Edo State, Mr. Patrick Obahiagbon, admitted that he canvassed that position prior to the executive session and during the session.
Obahiagbon noted that as Acting President, Jonathan was also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
”It is therefore a breach of Section 218(1) of the 1999 Constitution.
”Only the President can direct the movement of troops under our constitution.
“So, whoever ordered the deployment of troops last Wednesday without the approval of the Acting President contravened the constitution and must be called to question.
”Though the House took its own position and I am bound by that position as a member, my personal view is that the deployment of troops was unconstitutional,” he added.
The House had come up with a one-line resolution after the session.
The resolution, read by the Majority Leader of the House, Mr. Tunde Akogun, merely urged Nigerians to preoccupy themselves with issues that would promote the unity, peace and stability of the federation.
Before the House went into the executive session, a member from Imo State, Mr. Mayor Eze, had tried to move a motion asking Jonathan to caution the Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili, against some of her recent utterances.
Eze had claimed that as a public officer, her utterances belittled the government and were capable of overheating the polity.
On Monday, Akunyili had complained that a cabal had taken the ailing Yar‘Adua hostage.
Eze was overruled by the majority who voted against him.
Thereafter, Obahiagbon made to move a motion to probe the deployment of troops without the approval of Jonathan but he was stopped by Bankole.
Another member from Lagos State, Mr. Samuel Sejoren, tried to raise the same matter but was also stopped by the Speaker.
It was at that point that the Speaker deferred to pressure by calling for the executive session, saying, “At this moment, you leave me with no choice. Leader, move for Executive Session.”
As the session ended, Eze attempted to justify his opposition to Akunyili’s comments.
He argued that it was unfair of the minister to continue to criticise a government she was a part of.
The lawmaker said that she should have taken the part of honour by resigning, following which she could now air her ”personal views about the government.”
He added, “This idea of some persons trying to be saints is not important. We should not be making comments that will overheat the system.”
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