The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila on Friday turned back representatives of the nation’s military service chiefs at a meeting he convened to discuss the security situation in the country.
A visibly disappointed Gbajabiamila, who described their action as an insult to the Parliament, promised to report the matter to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Speaker then postponed the meeting to Monday morning, while apologizing to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi and the Comptroller General (CG) of Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammad Babandede, who were present at the meeting.
Speaker Gbajabiamila noted with dismay that the act of shunning the invitation of the parliament by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Abayomi Olonisakin, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas and the Chief of the Air Staff (CAF), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar was uncalled for.
He said it was a sad development since all arms of government are supposed to work in unison for the development of the country and the benefit of Nigerians.
He said: “Let me first of all commend Mr President for the commitment he has shown in trying to stem the spate of insecurity in the country. Mr President has to have people he would delegate those powers to as the Commander-in-Chief as dictated by our constitution.
“Mr President has delegated those powers to the Service Chiefs, so we decided to call this meeting, as representatives of the people.
Let me commend the Inspector General of Police for being here personally. Let me also commend the DG DSS and the CG Nigerian immigration for being here.
“Let me say, as a House, as an institution, I cannot understate my disappointment or our disappointment that the rest of the Service Chiefs are not here.
“Again, like I said, we called this meeting because it was inevitable. It was important. You can see members from Borno State here.
There is a crisis in Borno State right now.
"We wanted to hear from the Service Chiefs to know what was going on, how the House can help and what the problems are as well as what are the challenges; to talk about strategy, to talk about what we need to do.
“I'm sure you really didn't expect the House to fold its arms while people in Maiduguri and other parts are being killed. There's a migration now from local governments in Borno State to Maiduguri.
“Here we are, we call the Armed Forces coordinated by the CDS, who's not here, with Service Chiefs being represented. I'm actually at a loss.
“For me, I believe my colleagues are in tandem with this. In the absence of the Service Chiefs, the CDS, the COAS, the CNS and the CAS are not represented as far as we're concerned.
“I'm sorry, when I said not represented, as far as I'm concerned, the heads are not here, the Service Chiefs are not here. I know one or two of these Service Chiefs were somewhere yesterday night. I am aware of that.
“I can almost say it shows a disdain for this institution.
The budget is on its way. Yes, we need to talk about that. What do you need? What is required? I'm almost embarrassed. To tell you the truth. I'm almost embarrassed," Speaker Gbajabiamila who was angry said.
The Speaker added that "There was no call placed to my office to explain why. I'm just seeing accountants and representatives. So I'm not sure how to handle this, because I don't think this is happening anywhere in any Parliament that I know of in the world, where the head of parliament will call the Service Chiefs for a nagging problem, how to resolve it and you have what we have here as representations.
"So, I think it's important that we might need to postpone this meeting to Monday morning.
I will personally see the President myself. We're supposed to work together as a body, but it shows lack of seriousness apart from the disdain on Parliament. It shows that this is not as serious to the level that we believe it is. Unfortunately, this meeting can no longer hold.”
In his terse remarks, the Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase described the incidence as an insult to his person and the institution of the legislature.
“In strong terms, I condemn those who have deemed it fit not to be here. As far as I'm concerned, as a Chairman of Committee, I never attended to any agency, in the absence of the chief executives and the accounting officers, and I know that these Service Chiefs are the accounting officers in their various agencies. It is our practice, tradition, and I am insulted.”
After the remarks, the Speaker postponed the meeting to Monday morning.
Present at the session were some principal officers of the House and chairmen of relevant security committees.
Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Nigeria.