Sanni Onogu, Abuja
The leadership of the National Assembly and the Edo State Government are on collision course over the crisis rocking the Edo State House of Assembly, it emerged yesterday.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has vowed that the leadership of the National Assembly would challenge a Federal High Court ruling that restrained it from taking over the legislative functions of the Edo State House of Assembly.
Gbajabiamila gave this indication in his remarks during a visit by the Progressive Governors Forum to the leadership of the National Assembly in Abuja.
Also, the Governor of Katsina State and the Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forums subcommittee on Legislative Matters, Aminu Bello Masari, lamented that absence of coordination has brought distrust in the APC and its capable of destroying the party.
Before the meeting went into a closed door session, Gbajabiamila said that the leadership of the National Assembly was surprised that it could resolve the crisis in the Bauchi State House of Assembly which is an opposition state but could not resolve that of Edo which an APC state.
He said it was surprising that the Edo State House of Assembly has decided to test an exclusive constitutional role of the National Assembly in court.
It could be recalled that both chambers of the National Assembly had in June resolved to take over the legislative duties of the Edo State House of Assembly following the crisis that emanated when nine lawmakers loyal to Governor Godwin Obaseki were secretly inaugurated by the Governor on June 17, while others were left out.
A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had restrained the National Assembly from interfering in the affairs of the Edo State House of Assembly.
Justice Kolawole Omotosho had also ruled that the National Assembly could not compel Governor Obaseki to issue another proclamation within the lifespan of an existing proclamation for inauguration of Edo House of Assembly.
The court gave the order when it delivered judgement in a suit brought by Yekini Idiaye, the Deputy Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, and Henry Okhuarobo, the member representing Ikpoba-Okha State Constituency.
Omotosho had said: There is nothing before the court to show that the Edo State House of Assembly is unable to sit.
Some elected members have been inaugurated. The House has been carrying out its legislative duties.
Read Also;Edo LG holds economic summit
The National Assembly lacks the power to take over the Edo State House of Assembly.
It amounts to taking over the functions of the Edo State House of Assembly.
The House of Assembly is not an appendage of the National Assembly.
Reacting to the ruling, Gbajabiamila said: While addressing the issue of one party and one government, I and my big brother the Senate President will want to draw our attention to the issue of the crisis in Bauchi and Edo states.
Whilst we were able to successfully resolve the issue in Bauchi State, which is an opposition state, unfortunately, we are unable to resolve that of Edo State.
I think this is what we have to look at and prioritise. We should consider how to constitutionally address the issue.
For those of us on this side, the National Assembly, we are surprised that the exclusive constitutional roles given to us as prescribed in Section 12 of the Constitution, which is written unambiguously clear was being tested.
We are a bit concerned about that. Of course we have three arms of government and on the basis of that, we will be going to court on this matter to resolve not just the judgement but to ensure that any other related issues like that do not come up again.
The House of Representatives have adopted a theme, The nation building is a joint task, that is how we are operating in the National Assembly irrespective of our political party divides.
We have resolved to come together when it comes to national issues. We believe that since there is one government, there should be a symbiotic relationship between the governors and the legislators, he said.
It was learnt that after this outburst by Gbajabiamila in the presence of Obaseki, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, spent a substantial part of the closed door session in calming frayed nerves.
The Progressive Governors Forum was led to the meeting by its Chairman and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Abubakar Bagudu.
The Governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the meeting include Governor Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina), Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Mallam Nasir Elrufai (Kaduna), and Babagana Zulum (Borno).
Others include Mohammed Yahaya (Gombe), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Sani Bello (Niger), Mai Mala Buni (Yobe), Abdulrahaman Abdulrazak (Kwara) and Godwin Obaseki (Edo). The Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State, Dr. Emmanuel Akabe, represented the Governor.
Also Monday, the Governor of Katsina State and Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forums subcommittee on Legislative Matters, Aminu Bello Masari, lamented that the absence of coordination has brought distrust in the APC, capable of destroying the party.
He urged the leaders of the APC to make amends in the management of political relations.
Masari said: The Progressive Governors Forum has a standing subcommittee on Legislative Matters that started in the last Assembly. But unfortunately, no success came out for obvious reasons.
So we thought that we should contact you early enough so that we put a machinery in motion in making sure that this time around, we are on the same page the Progressive Governors Forum and the National Assembly.
In doing so we want to use this opportunity to address some fundamental issues that does not only affect the APC alone as a political party but the whole nation.
We can recall that President Muhammadu Buhari recently reminded us of our responsibilities in providing leadership to ensure that all of us as elected representatives which is a collective body that should prioritize building strong relationships between all elected representatives both in the executive and legislative arms of government, as well as our party leaders.
The absence of coordination has produced crisis of trust which if care is not taken can destroy our party and the political process.
So as leaders, we need to make amends especially in the area of management of political relations among all the party stakeholders.
We need not remind ourselves of what happened between 2015 and 2019 when we unfortunately allowed avoidable circumstances to give new life to our political opponents, especially parties in opposition to APC, like PDP.
We have not managed our personal aspiration to contest elections through the inability of our party leadership to painstakingly ensure broad consultations leading to collective decision that were recorded on most of these avoidable circumstances.
We know what happened in the build up to 2019, the crisis we have in so many states within our own political party.
I am referring to those crisis that could have been avoided, recognizing that conflicting demands from all stakeholders would not be easy to manage.
Compliance with the provisions of our party constitution and the relevant laws of Nigeria..
Masari could however not continue with his speech as he was interrupted by the master of ceremony who announced that the rest of the speech would be given during during the closed door session.
In his part, Bagudu said the meeting the federal lawmakers was to enable the Governors partake and support executive legislation and delivery of the constitutional amendment promised Nigerians.
Bagudu said: We continue with the engagement with legislators, so that we can participate and support more executive legislation, delivery of constitutional amendments and other legislative agenda that Nigerians have been promised.
On his part, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, described the meeting as a special moment for the National Assembly.
Lawan said: This is a special moment for us. This is the first meeting between the leadership of the National Assembly of the APC stock and the Progressive Governors.
It is a fact and a truism that our party, particularly our Governors, did so well, they work so hard and assiduously to ensure that the leadership of the National Assembly emerged with little or no hitch in the 2019 leadership contest. We thank you for that show of trust.
We believe that you have done your part by giving us all the support that we needed. The ball is now in our court to take this leadership in trust and we intend to remain resolute, we intend to remain very loyal to the party and the principles that we stand for.
We intend to remain committed and dedicated to the Nigerian ideals of making sure that the country provides all the necessary services to citizens especially when it comes to the area of ensuring security, safety and welfare of citizens.
When we emerged without any doubt, we were very bipartisan in the way and manner our election took place. The APC provided the platform.
Almost all the APC members voted along the line that this time around the party produces the leadership without any adulteration so to speak.
The opposition parties in the Senate especially the PDP and the YPP have done so much to ensure that they gave us that type of support. I want to take this opportunity to be extremely practical.
We have been working in a very bipartisan manner and all those things that we felt are very necessary to achieve in the national interest we have done so across party lines.
I believe that this kind of partnership will continue. It is necessary that all the levels of Government work together.
We have certain issues that we cannot do alone at the National Assembly when we have up to 14million children out of school in the streets.
We cannot do it alone. This is something the States and the Federal Government would have to work together and partner with the National Assembly we believe that we can do more working together.
We are here representing the States. All of us belong to States. We dont belong to just the Federal. There is need for us to have this type of interaction more often.