Speakership: Reps Defy PDP, Retain Open Secret Balloting; Pass 187 Bills

Source: SAINT MUGAGA, THEWILL. - thewillnigeria.com

ABUJA, May 24, (THEWILL) - Against earlier expectations, the House of Representatives today refrained from reviewing its resolution adopting open secret balloting in the election of its principal officers even as the count to the inauguration of the House continues to create anxiety within the ranks of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The House had two weeks ago, as part of its resolve to assert its independence from the executive arm of government and the ruling PDP in the election of its leaders amended its standing orders from the open voting through the raising of hands or voice vote to the open secret balloting.

The lawmakers had amended Order II, Rule 3, (f) (i) and (ii) of its Standing Rules to allow for open secret balloting. The amendment was sponsored by chairman of the House committee on public petitions, Hon. Cyril I.D. Maduabum (APGA, Anambra) and seconded by the deputy chairman, public accounts committee, Hon. Uche Ekwunife (APGA, Anambra).

The original version of the standing Orders of the House of Representatives provides that methods of voting when two or more member-elect are nominated and seconded as Speaker or deputy speaker shall be by electronic.

The sponsor of the motion proposed that the Rule 3, (f) (i) and (ii) be amended to read that “when two or more member-elect are nominated and seconded as Speaker, the election shall be conducted as follows (i) by open secret ballot and (ii) voting by open secret ballot shall be conducted by the clerk at the table using the list of the members-elect of the House, who shall each be given ballot paper to cast his vote, with the proposer and seconder as tellers.”

With the amendment of the section, members can now conveniently vote for the candidate of their choice without being victimized by the party or other contestants. The House is expected to elect new principal officers on June 7, 2011, when the 7th National Assembly may be inaugurated.

However, a week after the amendment was effected; chairman of the House committee on rules and business, Hon. Ita Enang believed to be playing the bidding of the PDP and the executive attempted to sponsor a counter motion seeking to rescind the resolution. Although he was unsuccessful, there were indications at the weekend after the meeting between leaders of the PDP and members of the House elected on the platform of the party, that the party may have perfected plans with some members to get the amendment upturned.

But when House resumed plenary today, Speaker Dimeji Bankole who presided over the session quickly called for close door session where our correspondent gathered the issue was thrashed out amongst members and an understanding was reached that the amendment be allowed to stand.

There are presently three leading candidates vying for the position of Speaker. Hon. Ajibola Muraina (PDP, Oyo) and Mulikat Akande-Adeola (PDP, Oyo) both from the south west where the PDP has zoned the position to and current deputy minority leader of the House, Hon. Waziri Aminu Tambuwal (PDP, Sokoto) from the North West who has indicated his intention to contest. While Muraina is battling to convince his colleagues that he is not a lackey of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Adeola is banking on the ‘affirmative action’ and 35 percent representation in government promised women by President Goodluck Jonathan to drive home her ambition. Meanwhile, Tambuwal’s campaign is driven by his maturity and leadership qualities displayed in the past four years.

Our investigations also revealed that there are plans by the promoters of Tambuwal’s candidature to pair him with either Hon. Emeka Ihedioha (PDP, Imo) as Deputy Speaker or Hon. Akande-Adeola. Even as these permutations continue, Hon. Yakubu Dogara (PDP, Bauchi) has been campaigning vigorously for the position of Deputy Speaker in line with the zoning formula of the PDP. He is also highly favoured by the party and his fellow legislators.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has passed a total of 187 out of the 482 bills introduced in the lower chambers from June 2007 to date.

Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business, Hon. Ita Enang disclosed this today while briefing journalists on the activities of the House in the last four years. He said the House under the leadership of Speaker Dimeji Bankole has performed creditably well.