THE House of Representatives on Thursday said it would hold the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to his words to the its Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, that he would honour the invitation to the National Assembly to speak on the worsening level of insecurity in the country.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, who made this remark while addressing newsmen after plenary, said Buhari had yet to communicate to the House why he (President) shunned the invitation by the legislature.
Kalu also stated that Buhari was invited and not summoned, stressing that he was to engage the lawmakers in a dialogue and was not compelled to appear before them.
The lawmaker argued that since Buhari had yet to communicate that he would no longer be coming to the House, it would be wrong for the lawmakers to assume that he would not honour the invitation.
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 majority of the House, through the mandate of their constituents moved the resolution, even against the position of the Speaker.
“The House invited Mr President. There is a difference between compelling and inviting. The ability to resolve this will enable us to know the mood and the intention of the House. They were obliged when they had the meeting with Mr President. The President assured them and we believe in the integrity of the words of the President, having shown commitment to address Nigerians.”
Kalu, however, noted that Buhari might be considering the overall interest of the ruling All Progressives Congress in the decision not to honour the federal lawmakers’ invitation.
He also faulted Malami’s claim that the House lacked the constitutional powers to invite the President to speak on security matters, stating that sections 88 and 89 empower the parliament to do so, especially as funds were appropriated for security matters.
He added, “The position of the constitution is very clear and as we speak, the President has not given us information about whether he is coming or not. I also believe in party supremacy. If the party says he should not come, we will not hold it against him because that has not stopped us from doing what we are supposed to do as parliament.”
Earlier at the plenary, a member from Rivers State, Mr Solomon Bob, observed that while Buhari was billed to appear before the House on Thursday, the President did not, and the lawmakers were not given any update on the matter.
“I think the Speaker should address us on the current situation and decision. There might have been some back-channel discussions between the Presidency and the leadership of this House. We ought to know; before commencement of proceedings today, we ought to know.
“We ought to be addressed on what has happened to that resolution. The entire public is watching. The country is watching. They want to see the response of this House to such a flagrant disrespect to a resolution that was passed here.”
Bob added, “I raised this point of order because it bothers me and everyone else here, because it is capable of showing that we have no consequence. Mr Speaker, this House which you lead should be the one of consequence and I know that you are a man of mettle; you have taken actions before that have proven that, and I am convinced that this time, you will take necessary steps to protect the integrity of this House and its membership.”
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In his ruling, Gbajabiamila said, “Your point of privilege is noted. The channels of communication are procedural and we will await official communication from Mr President as opposed to newspaper reports.”
Gbajabiamila had stated earlier that the President had yet to officially inform the House of his decision not to honour the invitation to him any longer.
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