At the conclusion of plenary on Wednesday, there was some tension between House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and his deputy, Idris Wase.
The speaker maintained that Thursday’s plenary should be brief enough for him and other members to attend the official commissioning of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies’ permanent site, but the two men openly clashed about how long it should go.
On his part, the deputy speaker said that members who wanted to attend the commissioning should do so without interfering with plenary because the job of the legislature should come first.
Towards the end of the session, Gbajabiamila asked the Chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Abubakar Fulata, to prepare a light order paper for Thursday as the sitting should close by 2pm to allow members attend the event at the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies.
Miffed by the announcement, Wase said, “Mr Speaker, I’m getting to see this is getting so funny and we have lost quite a number of periods of time. For the commissioning of projects for God’s sake! Why do we have to shelve a lot of activities that we have just to go and witness the commissioning of a project of NILDS?
“I want to beg, sir, that we should do our functions. Those who have the interest to go, they have the right to. But our main primary function in this parliament is to make law and our citizens should be our priority.”
Gbajabiamila, in response, said, “Perhaps, DS, you don’t appreciate the importance of NILDS like some of us do. I think NILDS is very important,” the Deputy Speaker interjected, “I have every information and idea of what NILDS is!”
Rising again, Wase replied the Speaker, “The parliament is about us, not about ‘I.’”
Shocked by the Deputy Speaker’s outburst, Gbajabiamila said, “Mr Deputy Speaker, this is the first time in history…I have been in this House for many years, perhaps even longer than anybody here…this is the first time in history that a Deputy Speaker will be challenging what the Speaker is saying.”
Wase fired back, “I don’t understand what you mean by challenging, sir. That I should not make my contribution?”
Wase had protested the zoning formula of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the leadership of the about-to-be inaugurated 10th National Assembly while Gbajabiamila had backed the party’s endorsement of Abass Tajudeen (Kaduna) as his successor and Ben Kalu (Abia) as Wase’s successor.