The House of Representatives Thursday took a swipe at the special adviser on media and Publicity to the president, Dr. Reuben Abati over his comments on its resolution calling on the federal government and labour to sheath their swords over the removal of fuel subsidy saying he is “uninformed, rash, imprudent and unwise.”
The House equally declared that it did not have any intention to institute impeachment move against President Jonathan but advised him to align the position of his government with the feelings and aspirations of the generality of Nigerians on the issue of fuel subsidy.
The presidential spokesman was reported in various media to have described the resolution of the House as “mere opinion” and the emergency session that produced the resolution as an attempt to incite the people against the government.
However, addressing the press today, Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Victor Ogene with his legislative compliance counterpart, Hon. Bamidele Opeyemi said it had become necessary for the House to react to the statement credited to Abati in order to further educate Nigerians and the President’s spokesman on how government is run.
The lawmakers said arguments put forward by Abati that the House met on a Sunday were rather “childish and lacking in judgment” since the House Rules empower lawmakers to meet on any day insisting that “these statements by Abati are uninformed, rash, imprudent and unwise by a Presidential Adviser of his ranking.”
Ogene said the House was constitutionally right to sit on Sundays noting that “ironically, President Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR, on the same Sunday after Church Service, launched the Federal Mass Transit Scheme. Ironically too, the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, removed the contentious fuel subsidy on Sunday January 1, 2012.
“It is also worthy of note, that the state of emergency in some parts of the country was declared by the President on Saturday, December 31, 2012, a day of worship for a section of some Christians. The President also sent the declaration of State of Emergency document to the National Assembly on a Saturday to take advantage of the planned sitting of the House of Representatives the next day on a Sunday.”
He noted that “Abati’s description of the resolution of the House as a mere expression of opinion was lacking in judgment since it is now public knowledge that his boss, President Jonathan was made Acting President by a resolution of the National Assembly which he readily accepted in a broadcast to the nation.
“This statement by a presidential spokesman underscores the quality of advice available to the President from his aides in the running of government,” he stated.
He said, “to describe a patriotic attempt by the House to intervene on a vexed issue as the removal of fuel subsidy as an incitement is most unfair and uncharitable. So far that decision by the House has provided government and labour the most credible way forward to resolving the issue of the removal of fuel subsidy. The decision of the elected representatives of the people cannot be described as an incitement.
Recall that the House had on Sunday January 8, 2012 in an emergency session passed a resolution urging the executive arm of government to suspend the decision on the removal of fuel subsidy while at the same time urging organized labour to call off its planned strike action and submit to further dialogue on the matter. The House also went ahead to set up an Ad-Hoc Committee to enhance mediation and reconciliation while offering hope to aggrieved Nigerians.
Meanwhile, the House clarified that it is not interested in impeaching the President. According to Ogene, “as of Tuesday, some members were actually angry over Abati’s comments. But I can confirm to you that impeachment of the President is not on the cards for now.”