By Umar Muhammad Puma
There was a mild drama yesterday at the House of Representatives’ plenary, when Rep. Albert Sam-Tsokwa (PDP, Taraba), Chairman of the Committee on Rules and Business, rose to present the report of the composition of the minority leadership in the House of Representatives.
The position in contention is the current minority leadership, which is made up of only APC lawmakers with no representation from Accord Party, APGA and Labour Party. The APC members are: Rep Femi Gbajabiamila (Minority Leader), Rep Abdulrahman Kawu Sumaila (Deputy Minority Leader), Rep Samson Osagie (Minority Whip) and Rep Garba Datti Muhammed (Deputy Minority Whip).
The report was due to be presented at yesterday’s plenary, but attempts by Rep. Sam-Tsokwa to make the presentation was rebuffed by the minority leader, Hon. Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos).
The presiding Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha had invited Sam-Tsokwa to present the report, a move that was kicked against by the minority leader, who said the presentation was in violation of the tradition of the House, which gives principal officers access to reports before they are presented.
He said, “This is a point of privilege. It is the tradition of the House that when reports are to be laid, the leadership is given the reports. But in this case, if the report was given, it is to the other side (majority leadership, PDP)”
Rep. Sam-Tsokwa however explained that “there is in fact no report to be laid on the table. What happened was that a motion was raised and the presiding officer was to rule but he mandated the committee to advice on the matter. So, what we are about to do is an opinion to the presiding officer to rule. What we have is advisory.”
However, reading the mood on the floor, the Deputy Speaker decided to postpone further presentation of the report (advice), to give room for consultations. “Hon. Femi just for your guidance, I haven’t seen the report too and you are aware I have been out of the country. I only came in this morning.
It will be recalled that the House witnessed a rowdy session on June 3, following the move by the Deputy House Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor (PDP, Delta) to have minority leadership of the House changed.
Trouble started when Hon. Ogor raised Privileges Order, citing order 19 (1) (2), submitting that the leadership of the minority in the House should be disbanded, because the present occupiers were all APC members.
Ogor had argued that the development was in breach of the House Rules as it affected composition of minority leadership positions. According to him, “it behoves on the minority parties in line with item 31 of the House Rules, to nominate among themselves a new minority leader, minority whip, deputy minority leader and deputy minority whip.”
He, however, noted that members of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Labour Party (LP) and Accord Party should have a stake in the formation of the minority leadership, since the other opposition parties have formed APC.