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Reps in stormy session
… Motion on Yar'Adua's health blocked
Wednesday, March 3 , 2010
Dimeji Bankole
Tension rose to a boiling point yesterday as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole blocked moves to bring to the floor, the issue of the whereabouts of President Umaru Yar'Adua. When the House was becoming too hot to handle, Bankole called for a closed door session, which lasted over two hours.

At the end of the session, a one-paragraph statement urging Nigerians to concentrate on matters that would promote the unity, stability and progress of the country was read by House Leader, Tunde Akogun as the resolution of the House.

Hiding under the order of privilege to move a motion of urgent national importance, Hon Samuel Whesu Sejoro, (AC) Lagos State, argued that his privilege had been breached as a member of the House, who was supposed to know the whereabouts of the nation's president.

Trouble started when he stated that 'we are all aware of the return in quote of our president who has not been seen by anybody.'

The statement did not go down well with some members, who reacted by shouting, while others clapped simultaneously, ignoring calls by the Chief Whip, Emeka Ihedioha to maintain decorum and allow proceedings to continue.

Bankole made consultations with his deputy and some principal officers before calling for an executive session.

'At this point, it has become inevitable for me to call for an executive session. Leader of the House, please, move for an executive session so that we can resolve this matter.

Before Hon Sejoro's attempt to move the motion, Hon Patrick Obahagbon (PDP Edo State) had attempted to move a motion to condemn the movement of troop's to secure the ailing President Yar'Adua on his return to Nigeria, without the knowledge of the Acting President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Jonathan.

Midway into his argument, Obahiagbon was cut short by the Speaker, who asked him to approach the chair for consultation and when he returned to his seat, he said due to what I discussed with the Speaker, I withdraw the motion.'

But the Speaker did not allow him to conclude his statement by interjecting, saying ' No! No! No! Please, don't use me as an excuse. You can still go ahead with your motion, if you want to test your popularity.'

Hon Mayor Eze (PDP Imo State) had earlier in what seemed targeted at Information and Communications Minister, Prof. Dora Akunyili's interview, moved a motion to call top government officials from making utterances capable of heating up the polity over the health status of the president.

The motion did not sail through as members voted against it when Bankole put it to vote.

Daily Sun gathered that beyond the one sentence resolution read by the Leader, members spoke extensively on the state of the nation, where it was resolved that a delegation of the House should meet with the Acting president today.

'It was a stormy session, but we were able to douse tension and talk to ourselves in an open manner. Members who wanted to speak were allowed to speak and I can say that members were frank.

'We agreed that the Acting President needs to be firm in using the power given to him by the National Assembly. Some members observed that since he became the Acting President, he has not ventured out of Aso Rock, not to talk of going out to see projects which are critical to move the nation forward,' a member said.The meeting with the Acting President is expected to hold today at the Aso Rock Villa.