16 January 2013

Nigeria: Moves to Unseat Tambuwal Uncovered

Strong indications emerged yesterday suggesting that some members of the House of Representatives were plotting to unseat the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal ahead of the House's resumption today.

But the House spokesman, Zakari Mohammed who spoke to LEADERSHIP on phone yesterday described the alleged plot as "unfounded".

"There is no move to unseat the speaker. Such report is unfounded and a figment of imagination. I guess some persons were surprised that the House of Representatives has managed its affairs for this long without scandal.

"The car purchases in question were handled transparently. Infact, we (lawmakers) were not involved in the purchases, the National Assembly management did it," the House spokesman said.

Tambuwal had survived series of impeachment plots mostly from the presidency, since he emerged as Speaker of the House against the wishes of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP)

In April last year, a similar move aimed at removing him from office following the Farouk Lawal bribery scandal was rebuffed by the members of the House who passed a vote of confidence on him and gave him a standing ovation during the emergency session convened to handle the matter.

Several sources in the National Assembly revealed yesterday that some members, led by a member from Borno State, with the prompting of some personnel in the presidency, had held a nocturnal meeting last Thursday with the main objective of destabilizing the House upon its resumption today.

Reports indicate that the group, under the aegis of Transparency Network, have raised questions about the contract for the supply of 400 Camry cars for committee works in the House of Representatives.

A member of the House from Bauchi State, who was part of the meeting held at a Five Star Hotel in Abuja last weekend, told our correspondent that already, a committee has been set up by the aggrieved members to fine tune their strategies ahead of the resumption of the House today.

Asked to give insight into their demands, the member, who declined to be named, said: "First we are not happy with the amount at which they said they purchased committee cars for the House. We want to know how much was spent and who was given the contract."

On why he was revealing what transpired, the member said the seven members who attended the meeting later expressed reservation about the money allegedly given for the project.

"We've since realized that the ultimate aim was to destabilize the leadership of the House for some sinister motives," he added.

However, when contacted, a principal officer of the House told journalists that the leadership of the House has no business with the purchase of cars.

"If you recall, last year, we passed a resolution distancing ourselves from all contracts in the House. We reaffirmed that only the management of the National Assembly is empowered by law to issue contracts and since then we have had nothing to do with such issues. To us, this is no issue at all.

"The issue of cars is not new to us, you know it was the bone of contention during the sixth Assembly where the former Speaker had issues with the purchase of Peugeot cars for the members. With that experience in mind, we have decided we won't go there at all," he said.

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