By Victor Afam Ogene
BUt, while these two instances could be regarded as internal affairs of the House, the externalisation of similar disagreement, reached a new high in the 7th Assembly under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, which I was a proud part of.
Two quick instances, using the 7th Assembly’s two Presiding Officers, Tambuwal and his deputy, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, would suffice. First, on January 6, 2014, preparatory to resumption from Christmas/New Year break, some interest groups went to town to canvass the possible removal of Ihedioha, citing the new-found-majority of the burgeoning All Progressives Congress (APC), following the defection of 37 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) House members. As Deputy Chairman, Media and Public Affairs, I had to counter such move, citing, among others, Section 50(1) (b) of the 1999 Nigeria Constitution, as amended, to wit: “There shall be a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves.”
The same constitutional provision was to come in handy, when on October 28, 2014 Speaker Tambuwal announced his switch to the APC, and the full weight of the state power was deployed in an undisguised attempt to unseat him.
Instructively, in spite of the clear provisions of the constitution, as stated above, many cheerleaders masquerading as analysts had, in deference to public hysteria, cried themselves hoarse on the propriety of a Tambuwal resignation.
Sadly, under another dispensation, we are yet to see a change in attitude – one in which an arm of government is allowed to self-regulate. Speaker Dogara, and indeed, his leadership, serve only at the behest of their honorable colleagues. And the House Rules and the Nigerian constitution clearly spell out how any of them can exit their privileged position(s). I have searched through both documents and I could not find where hounding one out of office is cited as a route towards dethroning any of them.
Though Jibrin denounces the word “padding”, he seeks to make heavy weather over claims that Speaker Dogara inserted projects into an Appropriation Bill which he authored. Oftentimes, the tendency is to play the ostrich in such matters, when in actual fact, it is generally acknowledged that primus inter pares anywhere in the world, from class monitors, to student representatives, labour leaders and even Presidents get a little more.
Pray, who in his right senses would expect a state governor or President, who ran on the same ticket as their deputies, to wield the same amount of influence?
Without a doubt, Representative Jibrin appears to be on top of the propaganda warfare which he unleashed barely hours after his removal as Appropriation chair of the House. A disciple of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s ignoble war propagandist, Jibrin apparently holds dear Goebbels’ notion that “if you tell the same lie enough times, people will believe it; and the bigger the lie, the better.”
One such big lie which Jubrin has ceaselessly trumpeted is the claim that he installed Speaker Dogara and some other principal officers. The question that naturally trails this claim is: how? Perhaps the embattled lawmaker did not reckon with the wise counsel of late French dramatist, Jean Anouilh who cautioned that “propaganda is a soft weapon, hold it in your hands too long, and it will move like a snake, and strike the other way.”
If Jibrin contributed funds towards the quest, I wouldn’t know, but as an insider who ran the media wing of the Consolidation Group, which produced the Speaker and his deputy, Lasun Yusuf, I challenge Hon. Jibrin to name one, just one member who he convinced to join the Dogara camp, himself having crossed over barely one week to inauguration on June 9, 2015.
I do need to point out, however, that the essence of my intervention today is neither to denigrate Jubrin , nor question his integrity ( members of the 7th and 8th Assembly are free to draw up their own conclusions); rather, my concern centres around how to preserve the sacred institution of the legislature, rather than have a classic rehash of the ‘You Tarka me, I Daboh you’ episode.
It would seem, regrettably, that Representative Jibrin is perhaps too far gone in his open display of hate for Speaker Dogara, that he could gloss over the timeless warning of his presumptive hero, Goebbels, who himself asserted, “there will come a day when all the lies will collapse under their own weight, and the truth will triumph again.”
To Jibrin and his co-travelers, that time is nigh, in September, 2016 when the honorable members of the House of Representatives will resume for plenary. Until then, he may do well to take a deserved vacation, away from the path of propaganda and the denigration of an institution which he ought to help fortify.
nHon. Ogene, a journalist, served as Deputy Chairman, Media & Public Affairs in the House of Representatives (2011-2015).