By Emmanuel Aziken & Rotimi Ajayi
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
ABUJA— DISMISSING reports of instability in its leadership, chief whip of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Bawa Bwari, yesterday promised a thorough investigation into the MTN sponsored trip to South Africa by five members of the of the House. At a press conference where he expressed reservations about the government’s proposals to increase the prices of petroleum products, Alhaji Bwari spoke against debt cancellation for the country warning that it would not help the country’s crave for sanity in the financial affairs of the country. Bwari, the only principal officer from the Ghali Na‘Abba led leadership that retained his position in the new House, punched holes in the alleged report of the investigations of the affairs of the past leadership especially as concerning cars allegedly held by him and some other officers of that dispensation.
Dismissing reports of instability against the Aminu Bello Masari led leadership, Bwari said the news reports were imaginations aimed at entertaining readers. "I don’t think there are moves. If something like that, the feeling is different, the atmosphere is different. It is just unfortunate that some people are used to such stories, that if they don’t see such stories, they won't be happy. I think, they just wanted to entertain people." "As far as I am concerned, the House is stable, the leadership is stable and in fairness just two or three months for you to access the leadership is not just fair," the chief whip said.
"It is not that we are not concerned about the rumours we are hearing, but we are just ignoring the rumours because the moves are not strong enough to shake the leadership," he affirmed. Responding to a question on the controversy following the MTN sponsored trip to South Africa for some House members, the Chief Whip said: "It is not fair to do that. If they are probing this organization and that same organization is sponsoring them to travel, I don't think it is fair and I don't think that will be accepted. "We will find out and if we find out, we will know what to do," he promised. Giving the thumbs down to the government's fresh offensive for another increase in the prices of petroleum products, the Chief Whip said the environmental conditions were not suitable for another increase. According to him, the government's inability to translate gains from previous increases into meaningful achievements posed a serious credibility question to the renewed offensive no matter how economically sound the government's argument may be.
"We don't have the right environment to say that we want to increase the prices of petroleum products, so the government must for now continue to subsidise petroleum products." Alhaji Bwari also rejected calls for debt forgiveness for the country saying that such a step would not help the country address the more fundamental issue of financial prudence and accountability in the country that has seen its privileged citizens amass wealth to the disadvantage of the rest of the country. "We have all the needs to cancel our debts, to make life more meaningful for our people. As a Nigerian, I would want our debts to be cancelled, but as a serious Nigerian I know that we don't deserve debt cancellation," Bwari said.
Alhaji Bwari also punched holes in a newspaper report alleging that he and some principal officers of the former House were yet to return their official cars. According to him, what he had were two official cars and not three as reported. He said that the Peugeot 504 saloon car was sold off to members while he was in possession of the second car in his position as the chief whip.