The lingering zoning crisis trailing the National Assembly leadership for the 10th session of the Nigerian parliament deepened yes- terday with new twists and turns as combatants in the seemingly protracted crisis commenced fresh moves to undermine one another. In the Senate, New Tele- graph learnt that core loy- alists of President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, have initiated moves to thwart the action of an ad-hoc committee to probe Senator Godswill Akpabio who is believed to have been endorsed by Tinubu as the next senate president. However, the outgoing Senate President Ahmad Lawan had last week instituted a probe against Akpabio over the alleged questionable unapproved expenditure in the NDDC while he (Akpabio) super- vised the interventionist agency.
In view of this, New Telegraph reliably gathered that today’s plenary session might be stormy owing to the prepared- ness of most members of the House of Representa- tives to probe the mystery behind the amendment of the House Standing Rules in respect of the election into leadership positions, especially the speaker and deputy. A source in the lower chamber, who spoke to a team of journalists last night, said: “Two major is- sues are likely to burning issues which are the pos- sible probe of the House Committee Chairman on NDDC, Bunmi Tunji Ojo, who is alleged to be part of the grand deals to impoverish the NDDC and the vexatious issue of the unapproved amendments to our Standing Rules. “We are following them wherever they go and whatever they do. “If the senators can compromise and cave in to the pressure from Tinubu’s people, that is their prob- lem.” Speaking further, the source added: “We belong to the lower chamber and I especially belong to the opposition so I’m not bothered about whatever they do.
They are doing every- thing possible to stop the probe because it is a very strong booby trap that can consume Akpabio. “They know it and that is why they are trying hard to stop others from aspiring to become the Senate President. “For the House of Representatives, they know how stubborn we are and they know too that whoever is Speaker will unravel all that had transpired in the NDDC especially as Bunmi Tunji Ojo, is the chairman.” On the implications, the source said: “So, the best thing in their thinking is to stop Wase, Betara, Soli, Jaji and Gadgi. “How will they want me to be happy and join them to commit this hav- oc against my people and expect me to support their candidate who will do their bidding? “They all these issues so they have to work hard but the day of inaugura- tion will show a different House of Representatives. “All those signatures are political survival moves, we have done it so it doesn’t matter how many they father because in 2015, we got more than 200 yet Gbajabiamila lost, he scored less than 170. “And because they know members will be very in- dependent on the day of inauguration, Gbajabi- amila and his boys have gone ahead to insert an open ballot by shouting the names of our preferred choice for speaker as if we are babies. “On that one, we shall wait and see what happens tomorrow (today) on the floor of the House. “We will check our rules and proceedings and once we confirm any point of perjury and forgery, Nige- rians will hear from us.” Meanwhile, Lawan had last week, set up a seven- member ad-hoc committee to probe the NNDC for em- barking on an expenditure amounting to N1.4 trillion without appropriation. The move is seen by many as one to derail Ak- pabio’s ambition to be Senate President.
However, the decision to probe activities of the NDDC, followed a motion by Senator Adamu Aliero (PDP, Kebbi), during con- sideration of a report by the Committee on Niger Delta on NDDC’s 2021, 2022 and 2023 budgets. President Muhammadu Buhari had, earlier this year, asked the Senate to approve NDDC’s budgets for 2021, 2022 and 2023. The request for approv- al came after the interven- tionist agency had spent the funds for the 2021 and 2022 financial years, total- ling N1.4 trillion. The Senate consequent- ly referred the budgets to its Committee on Niger Delta after scaling second reading. The committee, chaired by Senator Bulus Amos (APC, Gombe), submitted its report on Tuesday and urged the Senate to ap- prove the budget estimates. However, Aliero faulted the recommendation of the committee. He said it was a breach of the constitution for NDDC to carry out expen- diture of the budget esti- mates without approval of the National Assembly. The situation is not dif- ferent in the House of Rep- resentatives as the NDDC asked the lower chamber to approve its budgets for 2021 and 2022—after spend- ing the funds for the finan- cial cycles.