Reps vote on Fayemi, purely legislative’
Femi Gbajabiamila, the Majority Leader in the House of Representatives
Speaking at a press conference in Lagos, Gbajabiamila said the face-off between Fayemi and the legislators which culminated in the vote of no confidence, came at a wrong time adding that the it is not good for the All Progressive Congress (APC)’s reconciliation efforts and the minister’s ambition to rule Ekiti again.
The lower chamber of the National Assembly on March 1 unanimously passed the vote on Fayemi over his refusal to honour invitation to appear before it at the debate on how to revive the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Company.
Same vote was passed on the Minister of State in the ministry, Abubakar Bawa Bwari, who like Fayemi also failed to honour the invitation making the infuriated lawmakers to describe the action of the duo as contempt to the House.
However, there were insinuations that Gbajabiamila acted the script of the National Leader of the APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is allegedly not on good terms with Fayemi.
Public opinion also indicated a crack in the APC-led presidency and its majority controlled National Assembly while some believed that the House took the action to get back at the ministry for refusing to inject $500 million into its budget as allegedly directed by the lower chamber.
But Gbajabiamila dismissed as blatant lie, Tinubu’s involvement or interest in the matter, saying, “The House is only carrying out its legitimate duties by asking the ministry for clarification on its findings regarding the Ajaokuta Steel Industry.”
On why he said he had no choice but to move the motion, Gbajabiamila said, “The House, after its onsite visitation to Ajaokuta and the concession plan decided to summon the minister for explanation.
The Speaker, Yakubu Dogara gave the minister 10 days notice through a letter but there was no response or correspondence as to whether he (Fayemi) will come or not.
“The Minster of State and also the Sole Administrator of the industry refused to show up. It was at the session that the Permanent Secretary of the ministry distributed a note, which suggested that the ministry might go ahead with the concession.”
Gbajabiamila said the tone of the letter and the fact there was no concrete explanation for Fayemi’s absence infuriated the Speaker who had to table all the correspondence between his office and the ministry in regards to the invitation.
“This infuriated my colleagues and they decided I should move the motion against Dr. Fayemi. The Speaker and myself tried to save the day when I moved the motion to set up investigation panel instead of the motion of vote of no confidence, which the legislators unanimously rejected.
“At this point, I have to do my job and forget the personal relationship between me and Dr. Fayemi. The Speaker too was forced to set aside party affiliation in greater interest of the nation.”
He added: “If I had failed to move the motion as demanded by my colleagues the greater implication would have been that the Southwest is trying to protect its own and that the party is also trying to cover up something.
When asked to clarify the findings on the plan to concession the steel industry, the lawmaker disclosed the House is investigating the matter, saying there are legal and constitutional provisions we are going to look at “such entity cannot just be concession to foreign body without government’s involvement.
On the alleged $500 dollars, Gbajabiamila said, “I am hearing this as a rumour. The development has nothing to do with the party or its reconciliation.”
However, a dangerous precedent may have been set for the political career of Dr. Fayemi. For instance, if peradventure he is contesting for the governorship election in his state, his opponents are definitely going to latch on the vote of no confidence to campaign against him.
It may also be difficult for him to be cleared or confirmed by the Senate in the future if he is nominated to head any government agency.