▪︎As lawmakers, angry, adjourn meeting after endless waiting
The House of Representatives on Monday adjourned the 2021 budget defence of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, in annoyance after waiting endlessly for hours as both the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, and the Group Managing Director of the Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari, failed to show up for the exercise without any official communication
Both the Minister and the GMD were billed to appear for the budget defence before the House joint Committees on Petroleum (Upstream, Downstream) and Gas Resources by 3:00 pm.
The members of the Committees, numbering over 70, were seen falling over themselves to grab every available seat on the podium awaiting the guests who never turned up.
It was gathered that while most of the legislators arrived at the 028 meeting room, venue of the budget defence session involving the Ministry and the NNPC at exactly 2 pm, information regarding the event got to journalists about 20 minutes past 2:00 pm
This was due to the fact that the joint Committees did not extend invitation to the House Press Corps regarding the budget defence session as it is customary with committees of the House.
Getting into the room 028, venue of the meeting, it was observed that the portion meant for members was already packed full with lawmakers waiting patiently for the invitees to show up.
This was however at variance with normal legislative practice where the oversighted MDAs are usually seated before the arrival of the oversighting authority (legislators).
Due to the overwhelming attendance by the members, the sitting arena reserved for them was filled to capacity, forcing many lawmakers to spill out of the allotted sitting spaces.
Having noticed that colleagues were no longer comfortable with the situation, the lead committee chairman, Hon. Musa Sarkin-Adda (APC, Sokoto), took the initiative to address his colleagues.
He said, “My dear honourable colleagues, we have been here today for the budget defence of petroleum with the minister who said he was summoned to the Villa by Mr. President
“Seated by my right is my elder brother and leader, Hon. Nicholas Mutu, chairman Gas, and to my immediate left is my younger brother but leader in the House, Hon. Abdullahi Mahmoud Gaya, chairman Upstream
“We have been here for more than 30 minutes (immediately disputed by colleagues who said they had been seated for more than an hour)…up till now, the minister who confirmed to all 3 chairmen of his willingness to appear is not here
“Although he called a while ago to say that he was summoned to the villa by Mr President, and it is our belief he’s still with Mr president
“Given the circumstance, I want to suggest that we adjourn the meeting sine die pending when the minister is ready to make appearance”, Sarkin-Adda said, just as lawmakers concurred.
However findings by our correspondent revealed that some of the lawmakers had been seated in the hall as early as 2: 00 pm and did not leave ostensibly due to the strategic nature of the MDAs expected to defend their budgets.
It was also gathered that the petroleum minister, Timipre Sylva seldom honours invites from the House regarding budget defence or issues affecting agencies under his Ministry.