Reps maintain position, as Senate distance self from Buhari’s invitation
Its Friday, yet the house of representative has not caught sight of the presidential aides not to talk of Mr President appearing before the house members. The speaker said the primary motives of inviting President Muhammadu Buhari is to shed light on the security situation in the country.
Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila told State House Correspondents that the lawmakers expected the president to fulfil his promise to appear before the House as a man of honour and integrity.
He said Buhari, who has not honoured the promise, was yet to communicate with the House on why he has not appeared before the lawmakers.
However, on Wednesday, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami said the parliament lacked the power to invite the President.
Also, the Senate had dissociated itself from the invitation extended to the President by the House.
Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege said it is unconstitutional and an aberration for any arm of the national Assembly to summon the President to speak before it.
The Senate Committee Media and Public Affairs Chairman, Ajibola Bashiru, said the Senate had nothing to do with the invitation.
The House maintained that its resolution on the invitation of the President has not been withdrawn.
The Chairman of its Committee on Media and Publicity, Benjamin Kalu told reporters after plenary that since the House was yet to receive any official communication from the President, it will be wrong to assume that he would not honour the invitation.
On Thursday, All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain and Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria ( VON), Osita Okechukwu, said the President’s appearance before the House would be counter-productive, adding that it would heat up the polity.
Shedding light on why Buhari was summoned to the House, Kalu clarified that the move was not to ridicule him over security matters.
He explained that the President was invited for an engagement with the House on ways to address the lingering security challenges and get feedback from him on steps already taken on the situation.
He emphasised that the House did not act in error by inviting the president, stressing that lawmakers were exercising their constitutional rights.
Kalu said the parliament was constitutionally empowered to order the arrest of a sitting President, adding that the power was not being exercised because of the immunity clause as contained in Section 308 of the constitution.
He added that the Attorney-General of the Federation was neither a spokesman of the President nor that of the All-Progressives Congress (APC), adding that he cannot be said to have spoken for the party.
Kalu acknowledged the president’s right to listen to the advice of the party in the spirit of party supremacy.
He said: “When that motion was passed last week, the House was rowdy. It was rowdy because some people wanted the President to be here and others felt otherwise. But, the majority of our members, through the mandate of their constituents, moved the resolution, even against the position of the Speaker.
“If you were there, you will discover that the Speaker struggled to ensure that the House toed the line of using diplomatic approach to it. But, the position of the parliament overrides the presiding officer because to do otherwise is to be biased. At the end of the day, it is the opinion of the people that matters.
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