MRs. Mulikat Akande-Adeola was in pole position to emerge speaker of the House of Representatives in 2011 having been nominated by her party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, when Aminu Tambuwal wiggled through party and zonal objections to emerge speaker. She was then compensated with the position of House Leader.
As the House Leader, she is the fulcrum upon whom the businesses of the House revolve. It was as such not surprising that when Speaker Tambuwal defected from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress, APC, penultimate Tuesday that suspicions about her possible collaboration were raised by some PDP sympathisers.
Mrs. Akande-Adeola, for the first time last Tuesday, opened up on her role in the latest crisis in the House of Representatives and gave her account in the unfolding developments. Excerpts:
Principal Officers Meeting
It is my job as the Leader of the House to move motions for adjournment. But that adjournment that was moved on that particular day was not a usual adjournment. Prior to this, the leadership met the day before at a meeting in the Deputy Speaker’s guest house. The meeting was set for 5 pm.
I was there at ten past five and I met only two members of the leadership. I waited till 6pm. No other person showed up. And I left and went back to my house.
At about 6:30pm, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker were calling me simultaneously to please come back and attend the meeting. That was after several calls. I picked the Speaker’s call and he said, Leader, where are you and I said I am in the house. I am not coming back there.
Before the adjournment
I am tired, I just got back from a trip. I have been there (venue) for over 45 minutes and he said, please, please, we are all here. Come back. And I said my driver has even left.
He said, ok, I will send you a car and a driver to pick you. And I even jokingly said ok, if you send the car, I won’t return the car to you. So, when the driver came, I came outside the house and I found my driver outside.
So, I said you came with a jeep? I don’t usually like entering jeeps. I entered my Honda and we both drove back to the venue of the meeting.
Before we adjourned they had asked me to liaise with the Senate Leader to find out how long they will be going for.
That is the senate. As you know, we always adjourn and come back at the same time. I liaised with him and the Senate leader told me they will be adjourning on Tuesday to come back on the 4th of November which was the following Tuesday. So I said Ok. When I got to the meeting, I met all the members of the leadership except for Hon. Leo. And I asked where is my deputy? They said he was on his way from the airport. And he later joined us. The only other person who wasn’t there was Hon. Ahmed Murtkar who sent a text that he wasn’t feeling well.
So, nine of us were present at the meeting. And the Speaker said this is a one item agenda meeting about the adjournment that we are going to have. Leader, what did the senate leader say when you contacted him? I said the Senate leader said they would be adjourning for one week from Tuesday till the following Tuesday which was the 4th of November.
At that point, everybody raised different issues why we cannot go for only one week; ranging from members having problems in their constituency, because of their tickets, they cannot be at two places at the same time.
There will be no time. How many have you seen in the chambers lately? All sorts of reasons were given. And I said what will be the moral justification for us to go that long? And what will the public perception since we just came back from a long vacation? I raised the issue of the MTEF. I raised the issue of budget. They said no problem. On MTEF, the report can even be laid tomorrow.
There and then, they called the Chairman, Committee on Finance. But I would not know truly, if the chairman, Finance was on the phone. What we were told after the phone call was that he will present the budget tomorrow.
So, after all the reasoning and everything, we agreed that ok, first, members should go and work on their tickets and that the House will adjourn for the first two weeks, let members conclude all the reports in the various committees. And the following two weeks will be for oversight functions towards the budget. That was what we agreed.
On that fateful day, we got to the chambers and I got in late. I came in after them because I wasn’t really looking at my time. While we were in the chambers, if you check the Order Paper, you would notice that there is a particular time for announcement usually. And after the announcement, we went into the Order of the day and nothing was said about whether the speaker was moving or not. At the meeting we had, nothing was said about that.
Meeting with speaker
Nothing was mentioned whether he was moving or not even though it was in the air, in the media, everybody was talking about it. And since it was not announced at that particular time, I turned to my Deputy and I said, Leo, is the Speaker not moving again? And he said, he is not doing it again. That’s what he told me. And I am saying this without fear of anybody.
And not quite 5 minutes, another member came to me and said to me, Leader what is going to happen? I spoke to the Speaker this morning and he told me he is moving today. And I turned to my Deputy again.
I said Leo, somebody just told me the Speaker said he is moving today. He said hold on, hold on. I want to listen to what the person who was on the floor was saying at that particular time.
And at the end of the session, the Speaker said, Leader move for adjournment. I still turned to the Deputy Speaker and said, is it as agreed? He said yes. And I got up and moved the adjournment. And he said Leo, second and he seconded.
And it was at that point that the Speaker now made the statement about his defection. I wouldn’t know what the leader has done that is out of the ordinary.
It is my responsibility to move for adjournment. There is no way I would have moved that adjournment if we did not agree on this and this you can cross check from all the other members if they want to be truthful to themselves and that was exactly what happened.
So I need people to know because people who know me have been calling me and asking me: why should you do this or why did you do this? I think this will put paid to all these questions.
Was Tambuwal right not to have confided in her?
I deal with everyone on equal basis and I have a very open mind. I don’t think it would have been put of place for the Speaker to even tell me that Leaders, I am moving tomorrow. I don’t think that would have been out of place.
The only thing would have been may be to ask him a few questions and all that. We are colleagues in the House. We represent different constituencies.
What is good for me may not be good for me. He has his reasons for doing whatever he has done. But I would have expected that I was told no matter what. So, that is just it.
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