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Etteh throws in the towel

Posted by By JAMES OJO, FRANCIS AWOWOLE-BROWNE and JACOB EDI, Abuja Abuja on 2007/10/31 | Views: 3395 |

Etteh throws in the towel

The era of the first female speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Patricia Olubunmi Etteh came to an abrupt end in a quick session on Tuesday. She resigned her position at 4. 02pm to stave off a motion for her impeachment moved by Hon KGB Oguakwa.

The era of the first female speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Patricia Olubunmi Etteh came to an abrupt end in a quick session on Tuesday. She resigned her position at 4. 02pm to stave off a motion for her impeachment moved by Hon KGB Oguakwa.

In her resignation letter read by the acting Speaker, Hon Terngu Tsegba, Mrs Etteh said she was quitting based on advice from her family and friends, and in the interest of democracy.
Before her resignation, her deputy, Hon Babangida Nguroje had first thrown in the towel, noting that his resignation should facilitate the return of peace and unity in the House.

The resignation of the speaker and her deputy, which was the climax of political horse trading that started on Monday night through the intervention of former members of the House and the PDP secretariat, was greeted with loud ovation. Her forced exit marks yet another defeat of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s despotic legacy which propped up the former speaker.

Hon KBG Oguakwa, who resigned his position as chairman of States and Local Government committee in the heat of the contract scandal saga, had moved a motion for the impeachment of the speaker on account of gross incompetence, pursuant to Section 50(2) (c) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
He was seconded by Hon Leo Ogor, who in turn cited Order 11, rule 3 of the House rules, but before the acting speaker could rule on the motion, the acting Clerk, Niyi Ajiboye, cautioned against procedural breaches.

It was at this point that the former deputy speaker, Nguroje signalled his intention to resign, which was hailed and quickly followed by the former speaker, Mrs Etteh.
The House had gone into an executive session to determine the modalities to be adopted for the deliberation of the Idoko report, but when the House returned to plenary, the tide changed as Speaker Ex-tempore, Terngu Tsegba announced that the House had revolved that the leadership as presently constituted under Mrs Etteh could no more continue leading the House.
He, therefore, called on the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker to resign their positions immediately and a motion to that effect was moved.

Etteh’s reign came to a quick end as the speaker when her attempts to frustrate the emergence of a speaker ex-tempore for the consideration of the Idoko report was neutralized by members of Integrity Group, who had positioned themselves strategically before she strolled into the chamber at about 12.30pm.

Unlike before, she apologized to members for the late commencement of proceedings, blaming it on the summoning of the leadership by the PDP secretariat.
She proceeded to read a prepared text where she agreed not to be a judge in a matter involving her, that she was to vacate her seat as it was not in the rules of the House that she should preside over the consideration of reports, as it was the duty of the deputy speaker to do so.
Opposition Leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume drew the attention of the Speaker to his motion that was cleverly dodged. He was cut short by a point of order raised by Hon Igo Aguma, to suspend the rules to enable the House sit beyond 1.30pm.
Ndume later substituted his motion with an amendment that the speaker should step aside for an election of speaker ex-tempore for the consideration of the Idoko report.
Hon Melaye Dino raised a point of order that the matter to be discussed was already before a court and that it would run foul of Order 9 of the House.

Although, he was shouted down, the Speaker still went ahead to rule, but this drew the ire of members who saw it as a calculated attempt to stall proceedings on the emergence of speaker ex-tempore.
Hon Leo Ogor cited the supremacy of the constitution to ignore the order pointed out by Dino.
Hon Bala Ibn Na’Allah and Hon C.ID Maduabum advised the embattled speaker to honour her earlier pledge not to be a judge in her own court.

Mrs Etteh therefore read out the amendment motion for the election of speaker ex-tempore and called on the Clerk to commence the process for the election.
Ajiboye, who wasted no time in calling for nomination from the floor ignored protest by some members that Mrs Etteh should have vacated the seat of the speaker after the motion to elect speaker ex-tempore had sailed through.

Hon George Fred Nwosu from Rivers State nominated Hon Tsegba from Benue from Integrity Group, his nomination was seconded by Hon Binta Garba, while Hon Omegara nominated Hon West –Idahosa, who incidentally was absent. His nomination was seconded by Hon Dino.

The nomination of Hon Soli Jibia from Katsina state was not seconded before he announced his withdrawal from the contest on personal grounds.
When the House was divided, Tsegba garnered 255 votes against 33 scored by West-Idahosa, who later frowned at his nomination in absence.

The result was greeted with prolonged applause and when Mrs Etteh was leaving the speaker seat finally, she embraced her successor to the admiration of members before she took a seat near Hon Olaka Nwogu on the front row.
In his short speech, before the House went into an executive session, Tsegba promised to be fair and firm in the historic assignment given him and sought for the support of members in the task of restoring the dignity of the House.

Members of Integrity Group burst into back slapping and wild jubilation the moment Mrs Etteh and her deputy, Babangida Nguroje accepted to resign their positions.
But the crowd that had milled at the lobby booed the former speaker as she stepped out of the chamber to her office, where she held a brief consultation with her domestic staff.
Reacting to the resignation of the speaker and her deputy, arrowhead of the group that pushed for their removal, Hon Farouk Lawan said that the House had shamed Nigerians who felt that the House could not manage its crisis.

He commended the former leaders for sacrificing their positions to allow peace to return to the House, adding that it was a victory for democracy, the people and Nigeria as a nation.
Meanwhile, meetings of various caucus were going on Tuesday night for the emergence of a substantive speaker.

Ali Ndume assured that a new speaker would emerge Wednesday, adding that developments in the House has put paid to the Idoko report.
Earlier, Representatives as well as visitors to the National Assembly were prevented from gaining access into the National Assembly as labour staged its long-planned demonstration in the complex.

Lawmakers who were caught in the web of the protest were barred from entering the premises by militant labour activists, including civil society groups and students, who were equally prevented from entering the premises by a detachment of stern looking policemen, from the FCT command.

Led by the President General of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr. Peter Esele, acting President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mrs. Ladi Iliya, leaders of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and former President of the NLC, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, the group marched from the Labour House through the Federal Secretariat to the National Assembly main gate where they met resistance from the already stationed policemen who cordoned off the area.

However, the protesters with placards and banners of various inscriptions, pushed their way through to the entrance which the police hurriedly closed with the iron barrier, thus halting movement in and out of the Assembly, for several hours that the protest lasted.
Some of the lawmakers on sighting the demonstrating workers quickly made a detour as the activists had insisted that no Representative would be allowed into the premises. Visitors were turned back by the police.

Before Etteh’s resignation a meeting of the PDP leadership and about 70 members in the House had picked Alhaji Soli, as Speaker Protempore designate at Wadata House, headquarters of the party. Soli until his election into the lower house was the Personal Assistant to Senator Jibril Aminu since 1997.
This is coming as Etteh accused the media of getting her into trouble.

"I want to say that right from the onset, I have not been in the good books of the media, but I love you all, it is well, the media caused it all, I will speak in due course".

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