Posted by By JAMES OJO, Abuja on
Governors got what could pass for a reprieve on Tuesday when 171 members of the House of Representatives voted for the adoption of a version of the Constitution Amendment Bill that recommends third term for them.
Governors got what could pass for a reprieve on Tuesday when 171 members of the House of Representatives voted for the adoption of a version of the Constitution Amendment Bill that recommends third term for them. One hundred and nine lawmakers voted against this.
Moving a motion during an attempt to have the first reading of the Constitution Amendment Bill, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) leader, asked the House to investigate how section 182 that recommends three term of four years for state governors, which was not included in the version that was published on April 12, 2006 journal of the National Assembly came to appear in the April 28 version. His motion was seconded by Hon Haruna Yerima from Borno State.
Tambuwal raised a point of order to stop the first reading of the bill to amend the constitution, citing differences in the copies of the bill circulated to members. His objections sparked off a rowdy session that took the greater part of the day until the House was divided by Speaker Aminu Bello Masari to resolve the matter after tempers reached the peak with some members removing their Babanriga and Agbada to settle scores.
Citing Order 5 I(b) of the Rules of the House, Tambuwal said that as member of the Joint Committee of the National Assembly on Review of the 1999 constitution, led by Senator Mantu, the report of the meetings held in Port Harcourt had no section 182 that empowered governors to serve for three terms and called for an investigation into how the section was included in the second version that was circulated to members.
Deputy Speaker, who was called by the Speaker to clarify the issues raised by the ANPP leader, faulted his argument, saying that he was misinforming the House by his allegations.
This submission of the Deputy Speaker did not go down well with members, leading to altercation until the Speaker called for the division of the House to determine whether to go ahead with the retention of section 182 and the reading of the bill.
Hon West Idahosa had raised a counter motion faulting the argument of Tambuwal, citing the House rule that forbids debating any minority report on any issue. He was hailed by Hons Depo Oyedokun, Independence Ogunewe and Mercy Alumona Isei.
Jubilating members of the pro-third term group were asked not to celebrate as it was a pyrrhic victory since what happened did not translate that they would get the required two-third majority to amend the constitution.
" There is hope for those of us against third term, the result of today’s vote showed that those pro-third term members need to do more work to achieve their aim which God would not sanction because it is against the people. Most of our members were not present, some were on committee duties. When it is time to vote for third term, you will see what will happen," he said.
Supporting this position, Hon Yerima said that it was clear that there was no way the pro-third term elements would get the number required to scale through, adding that what the anti-third term group needs was just 12 members while the other group needs additional 70 members.
Hon Francis Amadiegwu said that from simple arithmetic, it was easy for the anti-third group to get 12 members than the other group getting 70 members.
"What gave us assurance that the bill will fail is that the members that voted today against the reading of the bill were committed members who could never be bought with money or any inducement from any quarters, not even threat could sway them to their side," Hon Chidi Duru noted.
Hon Abdul Oroh, who voted for the reading of the bill, said it was difficult to say where the pendulum would swing as some members that voted have not really made up their mind on the third term issue, adding that some members were attending meetings called by both sides.
Hon Bako Sarai from Kano State described the result of voting as a signal that the third term agenda was a fait accompli as majority of members were in support of it.
" Voting was done without rancour and you can see that we have the majority, as the day draws near, more members would still join us because what we are doing is in the best interest of the country,"
Hon Halims Agoda, the arrow -head of the pro-third term group, said that the result of the vote testified to the extensive mobilization and the good inherent in the third term agenda.
He said that what was seen on the floor was the exact number the opposition could boast of, whereas, some members of his group were absent due to one assignment or the other.