New members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday had a meeting in Abuja where they vowed to resist the imposition of Speaker of the House and other principal officers by political godfathers.
While dissociating themselves from the gale of endorsements to elect the Speaker, they however advised others contending for the position to borrow a leaf from the chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Finance, Hon. Abdulmumini Jibril (Kano State) who has promised to offer 75% of the committees in the House to new members.
“The New House of Reps Members Forum is privy to recent correspondence and publications by one of the Speakership aspirants (Hon. Abdulmumini Jibril), proposing 75% allocation of Committee Chairmanship positions to new members-elect and although we cannot confirm the propriety or feasibility of his proposal or the factors that informed his proposal, our interest is in the adoption of the best strategy to satisfy the yearnings of members of our constituencies and the entire Nigerian people”, they stated.
The Convener of the organization under the aegis of New House of Reps Members Forum, Mohammed Mahmud (APC Niger State), who will be representing Agaie/Lapai Federal Constituency, at a joint press briefing with Mark Terseer Gbillah who will be representing Gwer East/West Federal Constituency of Benue state, said they would resist attempt to foist anyone on them.
The group mostly of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and some Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members under the auspices of ‘The New House of Reps Members Forum’ said that despite their respect for party supremacy, they would abide by the provisions of the Constitution to elect their leaders.
Full text of press statement below…
“Honourable colleagues, fellow Nigerians, members of the press, distinguished ladies and gentlemen. We welcome you all to this pivotal press conference organized by the New House of Reps Members Forum of the 8th National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to intimate our countrymen and women about our consciousness of their yearnings, our position on the leadership of the House of Representatives, the involvement of new members in the running of affairs and performance of legislative duties and functions in the new House of Representatives and the innovative ideas we intend to employ to ensure that the house and indeed the 8th National Assembly upholds and is sensitive and responsive to the yearnings and aspirations of the Nigerian people.
“The New House of Reps Members Forum is an informal amalgamation of all new members of the House of Representatives from the 36 states of the country and the FCT who were elected on different party platforms but irrespective of party affiliation are united and driven by the same passion for independence, excellence, equity, honesty, transparency, selflessness, observance of the rule of law and patriotism in the performance of legislative duties and functions in the 8th House of Representatives to ensure the delivery of tangible dividends of democracy to their various constituencies and the entire nation.
“We are sincerely humbled by the confidence reposed in us by the Nigerian people in their election of an unprecedented majority of new members in the 8th House of Representatives in what is nationally acclaimed to probably be the most credible election in Nigeria.
“We are grateful to the Independent National Electoral Commission, it’s revered Chairman Professor Attahiru Jega, all security agencies and Nigerians who provided the enabling environment and defied all ominous postulations to cast their vote and enable this watershed in our fledgling democracy.
“The New House of Reps Members Forum recognizes and is emboldened by the fact that Nigerians have spoken, they want change and a new lease of life in the House of Representatives and indeed the 8th National Assembly; we cannot make light of the enormous responsibility fostered upon us as the majority in the House of Representatives who are in pole position to determine the course of affairs in the House of Representatives and the actualization of the aspirations of the Nigerian people. As responsible representatives of our people, it is imperative at this point that we lend a voice to the prevailing circumstances in the house even before our formal inauguration.
“The choice of presiding officers (the Speaker and his deputy) for the House of Representatives is a cardinal precursory responsibility of elected members of the House of Representatives on inauguration day before oath taking and commencement of legislative functions of the house. The responsibility of these individuals as enshrined in the constitution and the position of the Speaker as the number 4 man or woman in the country’s hierarchy emphasizes the critical nature of their influence on members of the house and their performance of legislative functions in the House of Representatives which invariably impinges on the affairs of the country and the aspirations of the Nigerian people. It consequently behoves on all members elect to observe the highest level of decorum, circumspection, patriotism, equity and selflessness in their choice of individuals for these positions.
“We want to use this medium to express our displeasure with the current spate of unconfirmed endorsements and rebuttals by supporters of different Speakership aspirants on the pages of newspapers and other media; the New House of Reps Members Forum appreciates the invariable inclination of members to certain aspirants but will like to appeal for all honourable members elect to show the highest level of decorum and sportsmanship in the hallowed process of election of the Speaker and his deputy and the appreciation of the importance Nigerians place in the choice of these individuals.
“Chapter V, Part I, 50(1) (b) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria clearly indicates that “There shall be a Speaker and a deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, who shall be elected by the members of that house from among themselves”. The New House of Reps Members Forum wants to publicly express our unequivocal support for an independent House of Representatives and National Assembly devoid of extraneous influences and control with a leadership chosen among equals as enshrined in the constitution.
“We desire a leader who is independent, imbued with true leadership qualities and espouses the virtues of honesty, equity, patriotism, selflessness, transparency, justice, observance of the rule of law and humility. We commend the President elect Muhammadu Buhari for displaying true statesmanship, leadership and respect for constitutional provisions by refusing to get entangled in zoning or determining preferred candidates for the leadership of the National Assembly.
“We appeal for all party leaders to borrow a leaf from the President elect and avoid interference in the affairs of the National Assembly in order to provide a solid foundation for the new administration and legislature to focus on the provision of dividends of democracy to the Nigerian people.
“In recognition of the importance of the Speaker to the performance of the House of Representatives and his or her impact on the aspirations of Nigerians and our position as the majority in the determination of the choice of the Speaker, the New House of Reps Members Forum of the 8th House of Representatives is proposing an innovative interactive dialogue/debate between aspirants and members elect where members will have the opportunity to acquaint themselves with each aspirant and their agenda for the House of Representatives in line with legislative responsibilities and the desires of the Nigerian people.
“This dialogue session will seek to amongst other issues examine the track record of each aspirant in terms of performance of primary responsibilities, compliance to constitutional requirements for attendance of plenary sessions, constituency impact and their plan for the involvement of new members in the affairs of the House of Representatives in line with the clear mandate and desire for change by the Nigerian people expressed in their unprecedented election of new members into the house.
“The New House of Reps Members Forum is privy to recent correspondence and publications by one of the Speakership aspirants proposing 75% allocation of Committee Chairmanship positions to new members elect and although we cannot confirm the propriety or feasibility of his proposal or the factors that informed his proposal, our interest is in the adoption of the best strategy to satisfy the yearnings of members of our constituencies and the entire Nigerian people.
“The dialogue which is intended to be organized between the 1st and the 4th of June, 2015, and to be anchored and broadcast live on Channels Television will provide each aspirant the opportunity to effectively communicate their vision, agenda and cogent solutions to our constituents nationwide who will undoubtedly be influential in our eventual choice of the next speaker of the House of Representatives.
“Ours desire is not to carry on with business as usual but to provide a clean break from the past by being sensitive and responsive to the desires of our constituencies and country and to consolidate on the independence and gains of the 7th House of Representatives. It is therefore the intention of this forum to transcend this pre inauguration stage and evolve into a sustainable and formidable group committed to upholding the tenets of democracy and protecting the interests of the Nigerian people in the 8th House of Representatives.
“An enlarged meeting of all new members of the House of Representatives will be convened before the end of May, 2015 to work out the modalities for the proposed dialogue and to enhance the synergy required to chart a new course for excellence in the 8th National Assembly.
“Thank you very much for your presence and audience; God bless you all.”