Chris Steven, Abuja
What would have become a crisis over non-inclusion of the natives of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the ministerial list by President Muhammadu Buhari, was on Thursday averted by the Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara.
The non-inclusion was described by members representing FCT in the House as a constitutional breach by President Buhari.
Hon. Zaphaniah Bitrus Jisalo (PDP, FCT) had moved a constitutional point of order bothering on matters of privilege where he cited Section 297 of the Constitution, which created the FCT and 299 which confers the status of a State on it.
Another PDP member and Minority Leader of the House, Hon. Leo Ogor (Delta), cashed on this aberration and described the oversight as a fragrant disregard for sections 297, 299 and 147 of the Constitution, which deal with creation and the status of the FCT as a state equivalent, appointment of ministers as well as the number to be nominated from each State.
Dogara, who averted a possible escalated debate on the matter advised his colleagues to sheath their swords on the matter as it is an ongoing exercise.
Jisalo had also quoted section 147, which allocates the number of ministers to be appointed from each State by the President into his cabinet.
He said: “Based on these constitutional provisions, I, Zaphaniah Bitrus Jisalo representing AMAC/Bwari Federal constituency of the FCT hereby protest the exclusion of FCT indigenes from the list of ministers nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari in the face of the enormous contributions of my people to the development of this country, especial the nation’s capital city”.
Ogor, who supported the point of order raised by Jisalo added that the constitutional matter raised was very fundamental and must be treated on its merit.
“I therefore call on this House to see the motion as a matter of constitutional error that must be corrected by it in line with our oath of allegiance. I therefore urge this House to with all sense of responsibility support this motion on the strength of its constitutional implications,” Ogor stated.
Ruling on the matter, the Speaker said, “my ruling on this is that the appointment of ministers is something that’s still ongoing and has not been concluded. So we can’t on the basis of that conclude that the President breached the Constitution by not appointing an Abuja indigene into his cabinet.”