Dogara, Reps shun Senate’s battle with presidency

The House of Representatives and its leadership are not keen in joining the Senate in the ongoing standoff between the Red Chambers of the National Assembly and the Presidency, The Nation

gathered yesterday.

The Senate is locked in a battle of wits with the executive after refusing, on Tuesday, to consider the nomination of Mr. Lanre Gbajabiamila as Director General of the National Lottery Commission (NLC), and its insistence on the removal of the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, whose confirmation it had earlier rejected.

The Senate passed a resolution blocking further consideration and confirmation of appointments referred to it by the Buhari administration until further notice.

At a point during the debate, some senators launched a move to make Senate President Bukola Saraki acting president of the country.

The move however failed with many Nigerians deploring the action of the Senators as out of order and an affront on the citizens.

Besides, an alleged plot by the Senate to impeach Acting President Yemi Osinbajo seems to have hit a dead end following the realisation that the 1999 constitution makes no provision for the impeachment of an Acting President.

Highly placed sources in the House of Representatives said yesterday that its members were no less shocked as other Nigerians by the action of the Senators.

The sources said Reps were not on the same page with the Senate in the battle with the presidency.

Speaker Yakubu Dogara and other principal officers are said to have resolved to stay away from what one of the sources described as an ego fight by the Senate.

Some members of the House consider some matters raised on the floor of the Senate as “too personal.”

A principal officer of the House said: “We are not on the same page with the Senate on what we see as an ego fight. The Speaker and his team have decided not to join the battle between the Senate and the presidency.

“We actually met and opted out of the fray because it has degenerated to ego politics, especially on the issue of confirmation of nominees from the Executive.

“We believe that there are issues which should be left to the court to decide in line with the principle of separation of powers.

“We do not want Nigerians to look at us as if we are fighting for the sake of power and ego.’’

The source said the Reps would rather join issues with the Executive if it fails to implement the budget or other state matters that have direct impact on Nigerians.

“We will tackle the Executive on roads, employment, affordable health care, good education, and basic needs for the citizenry,’’ he said.

“The way the ego fight is going, Nigerians are beginning to cast aspersions on members of the National Assembly. We are being misunderstood by Nigerians; they are getting agitated against us. Yet, we are really working hard but the backlash of the resentment of the public against the Senate is also affecting members of the House.”

Another ranking member of the House said: “Some of us are disturbed that certain issues in the Senate are getting personal. For instance, it was too early for the Senate to take a decision on the recall process against a Senator.

“If a Senator has a problem with his constituents, let him go and resolve it. How did the motion on the floor put the food on the table of Nigerians?

“In some instances, some Senators use derogatory words in the chamber against the Executive. We cannot follow such a legislative action.”

It was learnt that a similar move against the Executive, especially the Acting President, was to be made on the floor of the House last Tuesday but it did not work out.

“I think Dogara prefers engagement with the presidency to confrontation. This approach has made the Villa to be at home with him. He has an exceptional maturity to issues,’’ another source said.

“And the presidency has been consulting Dogara constantly on grey areas or points of disagreement,” the source, a Rep from the South-South added.

A respected member from the South-East said: “Some of us have really met with the Speaker and we discovered that we share the same vision not to join the personal war between some Senators and the presidency.

“Some of those bankrolling this conspiracy against the presidency have skeletons in their cupboards. Some of them feel bigger than the Senate having controlled much money at the state level before.

“We told some Senators to keep off the House because we won’t support any plot against the presidency.”

Investigation in Abuja revealed last night that the Senate might have hit a roadblock following discovery that there is no provision in the 1999 Constitution for the impeachment of an Acting President.

The National Assembly can only remove a sitting President or Vice President based on Section 143 of the constitution.

A top source said: “The Senators plotting the removal of the Acting President are not even aware that they cannot remove an Acting President. If they are after Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, they should wait till he reverts to his position as the Vice President.

‘’The only option the Senators have now is to serve an impeachment notice on President Muhammadu Buhari, which will be suicidal.

“This is why the Senators must be circumspect or else they will plunge the nation into crisis.

“Even northerners backing the subtle impeachment agenda should appreciate the fact that President Buhari is actually the ultimate target of all the threats from the Senate.

“Let them go through Section 143 before going ahead with their impeachment plot of which kite was flown on Tuesday.”

Following the negative reactions to the Tuesday drama in the Senate, its President, Dr. Saraki on Thursday night held a secret meeting with Acting President Osinbajo.

The meeting was also preceded by a visit to the Acting President by the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, who said he has advised the Senate leadership to prevail on Senators to lie low in order not to plunge the nation into crisis.

Sources said Saraki met with Osinbajo on “some developments in the Senate during the week, including the suspension of the consideration of further nominations by the Executive in protest against the retention of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, and the impeachment threats by some Senators.

Section 143 says: “The President or Vice President may be removed from office in accordance with the provisions of this section.

“Whenever a notice of any allegation in writing signed by not less than one-third of the members of the National Assembly is (a) presented to the President of the Senate (b) stating that the holder of the office of President or Vice President is guilty of gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office, detailed particulars of which shall be specified.

“The president of the Senate shall within seven days of the receipt of the notice cause a copy thereof to be served on the holder of the office and on each member of the National Assembly, and shall also cause any statement made in reply to the allegation by the holder of the office to be served on each member of the National Assembly.”

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