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Reps squabble over congrats add to president on Independence Day

By The Rainbow

The consequences of the crack in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have continued to impact activities on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Barely  few weeks after altercation broke in the house over the reception accorded the leadership of the PDP splinter group, New PDP, by the House leadership, members of the Alhaji Kawu Baraje-led faction again on Wednesday protested against an advertorial placed in some national newspapers to congratulate President Goodluck Jonathan on the occasion of the nation's 53rd independence anniversary.

140 members of the PDP in the House had on October 1, 2013 sponsored a coloured advert in some national newspapers congratulating the president.

But it did not go down well with Mohammed Onawo (PDP) representing Awe/Doma/Keana Federal Constituency of Nasarawa State, who said that his name was included without his consent.

They are alleged to have received $25,000 bribe each to destabilize the House.

Rising under matters bothering on privilege at Wednesday's plenary, Onawo complained that his name was included among the 140 names that signed the advertorial without his consent.

He alleged that the advert was a ploy to divide the House as only 140 out of the 208 PDP members were listed.

He  added  thathis concern was made more profound by the  insinuations that each of those listed as congratulating the president had been paid $25,000.

The Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who presided over the session in his ruling on the point of order appealed to members to always consult their colleagues before putting their names on advert and other publications.

Briefing the media after the session, Onawo, alongside caucus leader of the new PDP in the House, Andrew Uchendu (PDP, Rivers) explained that about 22 of them were included on the advertorial without their consent and that was why he raised an objection.

'As at the beginning of today's sitting, we were about 22 complaining together, but because I was the most aggrieved, I moved the point of order on the floor. My grouse is that my name featured in the publication when nobody sought my consent, and to prove that I do not know anything about it my name was wrongly written. It was insinuated that all the names that were there were given $25,000.

'If I want to congratulate the president on this issue I will gladly do it if we are doing it as a House. Are we operating a divided House? We are about 208 but the list there is only 140. I didn't see the name of the Speaker, I didn't see the name of the Deputy Speaker. And I am not happy that a section of people are trying to divide the House and we are supposed to operate as a team.

'This House of Representatives stood up to issues of the moment that brought this country together in the past, so I do not see any reason why anybody for any reason should try to divide us through that means. I didn't give anybody my consent to put my name in the print, that is why I have to voice out.'

Onawo, who was Speaker of Nasarawa State House of Assembly for eight years, insisted that though he could not confirm that $25,000 was given to the members, stories are flying around that they were actually given the money, whereas he did not collect anything, yet his name was listed.

On whether there was indeed crisis in the PDP, the lawmaker said: 'the issue of PDP being divided is no news. Even my great grandmother now knows that there is a problem in PDP. I don't want to over labour the issue but there is a problem in PDP just like every other family has a problem.'

In his contribution, PDP caucus leader, Uchendu said the Speaker had before now enjoined all factions to sheathe their swords in the interest of peace and unity of the nation and wondered why some members of the party would go ahead to sponsor a paid advert for the president without the knowledge of the entire House.