Signs of an imminent showdown between members of the House of Representatives and President Muhammadu Buhari over his rejection of the amended electoral bill became more conspicuous at Tuesday plenary.
Hardly had the Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara finished reading a communication from the President on the subject matter than Hon. Aliyu Madaki from Kano State reacted to the letter.
It will be recalled that President Buhari last week, declined to give his presidential assent to the bill, citing timing as his major reason.
According to the president, the bill should be rescheduled for assent after the 2019 general elections in February 2019.
But reacting to the President’s letter to the Speaker of the House, Hon. Madaki said that the rejection was one too many.
He said that what Nigerians wanted was a free, fair and credible election in 2019 but Buhari’s rejection of the bill has shown that he and his ruling All Progressives Congress, APC had ulterior motives.
He said that the world was watching the present government and their actions.
“The letter is so serious that it can’t just be ignored. We want free and fair and credible elections. The president refusal to assent to the bill shows clearly what his intention and that of his party are on the upcoming 2019 elections. We are watching. The whole world is watching. Everybody is watching”, he said.
Amid Madaki’s submission was a shout of “Point of Order”, from the House Majority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.
His roaring distorted Madaki’s flow.
But from within the House thundered the question of “Order What”.
Recognised by the Speaker, Hon. Gbajabiamila relied under “Personal Explanations”, to drive his point home.
He said that it was not customary to spur on a debate on the communication of president, urging that due process be followed.
He said: “I have been in this house for 16 years and there has never been a situation where a letter is debated. It is simply a communication. We have never debated a letter. If there is need to debate the president’s letter, we table it on the order paper. Several letters have been written by past presidents and none had been debated.”
On that note, Speaker Dogara said that the rules must be followed if the House needed to debate the letter.
“I think this matter should be laid to rest. I advise we follow the provisions of the rules”, he simply said, leaving members chorusing “let’s debate it tomorrow (Wednesday).
Apparently, the hitting of the gavel saved the day.
Meanwhile, President’s Buhari’s kinsman, Hon. Ibrahim Murtalla representing Matazu/Musawa federal constituency of Katsina State at the plenary ditched the ruling APC for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
This was conveyed in a letter read by Dogara.
His defection elicited some jubilation from members of the PDP who quickly embraced and shook hands with him.