ABUJA, Nigeria – House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila has told his colleagues that days when members sign attendance in the Chamber and walk away is gone.
Gbajabiamila spoke on Thursday while ruling on a Point of Order by a member, Haruna Dederi, who observed that the quorum was not formed on the floor as members debated a motion on drug abuse.
Dederi, while speaking on the Point of Order, noted that members were very few in the Chamber and a quorum of 120 members was not formed.
But, Minority Leader Ndudi Elumelu said a quorum cannot be determined by the number of members in the Chamber.
According to him, “some members have come, signed in the chamber and left for committee assignments and oversight.”
House Leader Ado Doguwa said it is an established tradition, admitting that the number of members in the Chamber did not reflect quorum.
However, Gbajabiamila, who said the House would have to suspend its rules, if the debate would continue, noted that the usual excuse to continue plenary when the quorum is not formed is wrong.
He referred members to Order 4 Rule 2, saying the House should keep to the spirit of the rule.
According to Gbajabiamila, the order says:
“The quorum of the House shalt be: one-third of all the members of the House.
“If any member draws the attention of the Speaker to the fact that a quorum of the House is not present, or if, from the number of members taking part in a decision, including those members who declined to vote, it appears that a quorum is not constituted, the Speaker shall cause members to be summoned as if for a decision.
“At the expiration of 15 minutes from such order, the Speaker shalt count the House and, if a quorum is not then constituted, shall adjourn the House forthwith.”
Gbajabiamila said that things should be done in conformity with the rules of the House.
“If the intention was that people should come at 10am, sign and go, then, we’re kidding ourselves. We cannot be conducting sitting with 10 members. Hon. Elumelu, I hereby rule you out of order.
“On the issue of committee work, I’m inclined to agree with that. That’s important and part of sitting of the House. But just to play safe and for future, move for suspension of the rule so we can continue,” he said.