The Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila has insisted that the resolution to investigate the state of Nigerian prisons under the Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola has nothing to do with the leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu.
He was reacting to a matter of privilege raised by a representative Onofiok Luke who was furious with reports suggesting that the House’s resolution to investigate the state of the Nigerian Correctional Service was a political move by the Speaker against the interior minister.
The House had on Wednesday mandated its Committee on Reformation Services to investigate the state of the Nigerian Correctional Service.
The development followed a motion of urgent national importance by the minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu, which is contrary to some media reports that suggested the motion to investigate the funds allocated to Nigerian prisons was motivated by the rift between the former governor of Lagos and the interior minister.
A lawmaker of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) Rep. Onofiok Luke, came under point of privilege to express displeasure and disbelief over the action of a section of the media.
Luke insisted that the motion had nothing to do with Gbajabiamila as a person but a normal parliamentary decision seeking to investigate how funds budgeted for federal government agencies were utilised.
“It was not the decision of Mr Speaker, but the decision of the entire House.
“This morning, there was a distortion of the resolution in a section of the media.
“This was a motion sponsored by the Minority Leader of the House to investigate the sordid state of Nigeria Correctional Service, despite the N165bn budgeted for its operations in the last two years”, he added.
Luke also noted that it was instructive that it was the opposition that moved the motion and not the majority caucus of the APC, which served the interest of both the speaker and the minister.
He went on to reel out several other resolutions previously passed by the House for the primary purpose of making institutions perform better, as against fighting the individuals heading them.
Commenting on the issue, the Leader of the House, Rep. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, commended Luke for raising the point of privilege and helping to put the decision of the House in its exact perspective.
He urged members not to be cowed or pressurised to lose focus in performing their legislative duty of oversight.
Gbajabiamila, who presided over Thursday’s plenary as Luke raised his point of privilege, said he was as surprised as Duke when the misrepresentation caught his attention.
The speaker noted, “It’s unfortunate that this was misrepresented to mean a political fight initiated by the speaker against the minister of interior.
“We all read the unfortunate slant that was given to the well-thought-out motion by the minority leader.
“It’s the privilege of the entire House that was breached; it is aimed at distracting us.
“These are things that we ordinarily should ignore. More of it will still come, especially as we move toward the 2023 elections.”
Gbajabiamila added that he took consolidation in the fact that Nigerians were wiser now and could separate the truth from the inuendo dished out to the public by some media outlets.