Members of the House of Representatives exchanged words on Tuesday over the health status of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Lawmakers quarrelled over the use of the word “sickness” in referring to Buhari or explaining his reason for being away from the country to the United Kingdom since January 19.
The disagreement was more pronounced among members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, the President’s party.
While some members said Buhari was sick and was away to treat himself, others claimed that he was on “medical vacation.”
It was the House Majority Leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, who started the argument when he tried to stop the Chief Whip, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, from describing the President as a sick man.
Both Gbajabiamila, who is from Lagos State, and Ado-Doguwa, who is from Kano State, are members of the APC.
Ado-Doguwa was contributing and opposing a motion, seeking to investigate the alleged harassment of members of ‘Kwankwasia’ followers, a political group loyal to former Kano State Governor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso.
He had stated that the motion, which was moved by a fellow Kano lawmaker, Mr. Aliyu Madaki, was “basesless” because the Kwankwasia group was known for moving around the state and inciting people against political leaders.
Ado-Doguwa observed that the country was already under tension owing to the absence of Buhari and could not afford any “partisan” activities that could lead to insecurity.
He added that the group was already campaigning for the 2019 presidential election in a volatile place like Kano.
“Our beloved President is sick abroad. These partisan activities are completely unnecessary and baseless. The police must do their work of protecting lives and property anywhere in the country.
“The sponsor of the motion failed to lay the facts of the issues as they are,” he added.
But Gbajabiamila shouted “point of order” and requested the presiding Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yussuff Lasun, to ask Ado-Doguwa to desist from calling Buhari a sick President.
Gbajabiamila stated, “There is no factual basis for what he is saying; that Buhari is sick abroad.
“The President is not sick. At best, he can say that the President is on medical vacation.
“There is a difference between being sick and going on a medical vacation.”
Members reacted, raising voices, some saying there was no difference between being sick and going on medical vacation.
Others shouted in support of Gbajabiamila, saying he was right.
However, Lasun caused more uproar when, in his bid to support Gbajabiamila, he too admitted that Buhari was sick.
“Let me sustain the leader’s point of order.
“Ado-Doguwa, you should not lay emphasis on the sickness of our President because of the security implications,” he said.
There was loud laughter on the floor, which left Gbajabiamila defeated and helpless in his line of debate.
Earlier, Madaki, in his motion, had sought the intervention of the House to halt a potential breakdown of law and order in Kano State due to the alleged abuse of power by the police.
He accused the police of taking sides with the State Governor, Mr. Abdullahi Ganduje, to stop the Kwankwasia group from holding any lawful assembly.
“This is like inviting anarchy and we must act fast before the situation implodes.
“Even in Bauchi State, the home of Mr. Speaker (Yakubu Dogara), the police are stopping groups from conducting themselves peacefully,” Madaki added.
The Peoples Democratic Party lawmakers seized the opportunity to recall the role the police played two weeks ago in Abuja when they stopped the Ahmed Makarfi faction of the PDP from holding a meeting at the International Conference Centre.
The House Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, told his colleagues that he wept when the police stopped the PDP’s meeting.
“We came together as a party to review the decision of the Federal High Court (Court of Appeal) on our party.
“The police came and blocked the whole place. I wept because that action was totally uncalled for,” he said.
Another PDP member, Mr. Sunday Karimi, informed the House that abuse of power by the police seemed to have increased under the Buhari administration.
He cited instances of Kogi, Rivers and Bauchi states as well as the Federal Capital Territory, where the police had been accused of harassing political groups that were not in support of the government in power in such states.
The House later resolved to summon the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, and the commissioners of police in the FCT, Kano and Rivers states to defend the allegations against the police.