OCTOBER 26, 2014.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, is making moves to ensure members of the House of Representatives will not impeach him when he finally defects from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress.
There had been speculations that Tambuwal might defect from the PDP, on which platform he was elected to the House, to the APC.
On Monday, the Speaker attended a meeting of APC members convened by the Sokoto State Governor, Aliyu Wamakko, to discuss the political future of the state.
Tambuwal, however, said he was still consulting and would brief Nigerians very soon on his final decision.
The Office of the Speaker had claimed that a reconciliatory mission of the Board of Trustees of the PDP to Sokoto on Monday did not invite Tambuwal to a meeting of the PDP stakeholders in the state.
The BoT members were said to have been led by the Chairman, Chief Tony Anenih.
A statement by Tambuwal’s Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Imam Imam, stated that the Speaker obliged the invitation by attending the Wamakko meeting.
Tambuwal’s romance with the opposition is said to be puzzling to the Presidency, the representatives and leadership of the PDP.
Findings showed that Tambuwal, who is in the last lap of his consultations on the issue, might likely defect on Thursday this week.
The House too is set to adjourn plenary on Thursday to allow members prepare for the primaries of their various political parties.
SUNDAY PUNCH gathered that the Speaker had been talking some members into supporting his defection for “stabilising the House since June 2011.”
Leadership stability is said to be his lobbying thrust to retain the speakership after the speculated defection.
Insiders said he used his loyalists across party lines to preach the need to sustain the seeming unity in the House till May 2015.
“Meetings are going on; a lot of members are being spoken to. It is to prepare the ground for the Speaker’s final move, which should happen any moment from now”, one source told SUNDAY PUNCH.
Investigations revealed the targets of the intensified lobbying were PDP members of the House, who could move against Tambuwal should he defect to APC.
As things stand, the PDP has regained full control of the House with about 206 members, while the APC controls about 151 lawmakers.
Accord Party has two members, while Labour Party has one.
“The Speaker’s game plan is to ensure that he will escape removal from his seat should there be a plot by the PDP to impeach him.
“He is trying to get the support of more than 240 members to be in the safe zone,” another National Assembly source confided in SUNDAY PUNCH.
Under Section 50(2)(c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the President of the Senate or the Speaker can be removed from office if supported by the votes of “two-thirds” of all the members.
Two-thirds of the 360 House members is 240.
“That is the idea of consulting more members and seeking for their cooperation,” the source added.
The section reads, “The President or Deputy President of the Senate or the Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives shall vacate his office (c) if he is removed from office by a resolution of the Senate or of the House of Representatives, as the case may be, by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of the members of that House.”
The Speaker’s loyalists are also said to be arguing that the constitution does not provide that the Speaker must come from the majority party.
“Even our rules book does not specify so. It simply says the members shall elect from among themselves a speaker.
“So, this impression created that because the PDP is in the majority, it must produce the speaker, doesn’t arise,” one member asserted.
They also argued that neither the constitution nor the rules book gives any grounds for the impeachment of a presiding officer of the National Assembly, “though they can opt to remove him if supported by the approval of two-thirds of the members.”
The constitution makes a provision for the mode of electing of the presiding officer in Section 50(1)(a)(b) thus, “There shall be: (a) a President and a Deputy President of the Senate, who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves; and
“(b) a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves.”
It was learnt that Tambuwal’s field men tried to do this groundwork ahead of the defection in a bid to checkmate external pressures on PDP members to move against him in the aftermath of the defection.
Findings also showed that the defection was delayed as a strategy to wait till “very close to the primaries” when members would be more preoccupied with how to win their return tickets than removing the speaker.
The PDP caucus at the House again remained indifferent to the Speaker’s defection plans when SUNDAY PUNCH sought the views of the leadership.
The caucus declined to speak elaborately on the matter until Tambuwal would have defected.
“We have said times without number that all this is speculation.
“We see the Speaker as a PDP member until he defects or he informs the caucus that he is no longer a member.
“Since he has not told us so, he is a PDP member”, Deputy House Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, stated.
Ogor also repeated his familiar lines of not commenting on what the caucus would do should the Speaker defect.
“When we get to that bridge, we will cross it.
I have also said again we should not place the cart before the horse,” he added.
But, House Minority Leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, said his members were excited to hear that the Speaker was interested in the APC.
“Our doors are open to him any day; though he has not told us of any intention to join APC.
We will welcome him any day he decides to join us,” the APC leader said.
The Speaker’s Office would not respond to inquiries on the planned defection.
The Speaker’s Special Adviser on Media, told SUNDAY PUNCH he had nothing more to say.