Wike, National Assembly clash over rubber stamp remark

The National Assembly has rejected to its classification as rubber stamp to President Muhammadu Buhari by Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike.

Speaking at the interdenominational Church service organised yesterday in commemoration of Nigeria’s 61st Independence Anniversary at the St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Port Harcourt, Wike carpeted the National Assembly for approving ‘anything’ for the Presidency without minding the consequences of their actions.

But, Senate spokesman Ajibola Basiru said Nigerians should not take the governor’s comment “serious”, saying he lacked the knowledge and competence to carry out a credible assessment on the National Assembly.

Recently, House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila said if working in harmony with the executive qualified the Green Chamber to be called rubber statmp, he has no regret about that.

Wike also said the nation’s judiciary had succumbed to intimidation because its judges abandoned their responsibilities out of fear and wondered what the future held for ordinary Nigerians.

The governor said: “We cannot do the right things. Other countries are talking about how their elections will be transparent; we are talking about how we will rig the election in 2023.

“Simple thing, transmit election results electronically to show transparency, that really that the person you’re declaring won the election but we are afraid.”

“Where is the legislature? A legislature that cannot think; anything they bring is right, a legislature that cannot say that Nigeria has nothing to regret from conducting free and fair election.

“A legislature that you’ll close your eyes; anything they bring – about borrowing, you say borrow. A legislature that cannot say that this money we are borrowing where is it? Where are you applying it? You have no confidence to ask questions.

“The courts have been intimidated. The judges have abandoned their responsibilities out of fear. You’re seeing something that is wrong, but because you will be summoned in the night, you abandoned your responsibility.”

The governor said it was regrettable that 61 years after independence, Nigeria was still grappling with leadership challenge.

Wike said there was hardly anything for Nigerians to celebrate as the country marked 61st Independence anniversary because its leadership continued to entrench hatred, mediocrity, promote ethnicity and religion.

Saying the only thing Nigeria could boast of was the existence of the name Nigeria, Wike said: This is the time that Nigeria needs God more. The country is gone; insecurity everywhere; everyone needs to say God, we need you because man’s leadership has failed this country.

“At 61 years, Nigeria is full of enmity; full of divisions; hatred and ethnicity. Everybody has responsibility; so, ask yourself questions, have I done my own part?”

Wike also blamed the country’s woes on all citizens, who refused to do the right thing, but rather allowed the wrong things to be perpetrated in all facets of the society.

He noted that ascendancy to leadership was no longer by merit but by ethnic affinity and religious consideration, even when such person did not have the required capacity.

In his sermon, Bishop of the Diocese of Niger Delta North, Rev. Wisdom Ihunwo noted that only foolish people despised God and attributed their successes in life to their personal efforts and ingenuity.

Ihunwo said such foolish people abound because they have hearts of corruption, treat humanity with disdain and delight in doing abominable things and diverting public funds for personal use.

He said it was baffling that despite having leadership in the country, there was unabated killing, a thriving kidnapping business with some officers of the nation’s military killed without drastic measures taken to return Nigeria to the path of sanity.

Reacting, Basiru, said: “Wike is entitled to his personal opinion and that does not represent the correct opinion.

“The National Assembly does not believe he has the necessary knowledge on the workings of the National Assembly to comment on the effectiveness or otherwise of our operations.

“It would suit him well to face governance of his state where he has been discharging his responsibilities.

“He is not in position to assess the effectiveness or otherwise of the National Assembly because he does not have sufficient knowledge, sufficient temperament and competence to deal with such matters.

“It appears from his statement that he is the only person that appears to be doing anything good if he is against the Judiciary, National Assembly and other people.

“Let him stay by his opinion and because there is freedom of expression in the country, he can say anything he wants to say but nobody should take anything he says to be serious.

“He does not have the knowledge and competence to make the assessment he is making and anyway, his assessment is false.”

In a recently on a national television, Gbajabiamila said: “For me, I don’t know what they mean by rubber stamp. If working in harmony with another arm of government is rubber stamp, so be it as long as it works for the country.

“How do you call an Assembly a rubber stamp when about 80 per cent of the resolutions that has come up on the floor of the House are aimed at checking and criticising certain moves of the government? Those motions will never come up on the floor of the House if it was a rubber stamp.

“How do you label a House that has passed 96 resolutions on security alone as rubber stamp? Look at the investigations that we have done and you will think that it is a House of opposition.

“Good enough, those in the executive understand us and allow us to play our role of checks and balances and that is what we have been doing. It requires proper research before jump into conclusion.

“Look at the debate and the motions that has come up on the floor as well as the bills and how we scrutinise the budget before passing it. It is ironic that a house like that will be called rubber stamp.

“If rubber stamping is going to give me January to December budget cycle and allow almost 100 per cent implementation of capital budget as we have witnessed in the last two year, all well and good.”

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