Minister of Women Affairs,Mrs Pauline Tallen
The lawmaker representing Ikwunano/Umuahia North /South Federal Constituency of Abia State, Mr Ifeanyi Onuigbo, clashed with the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen in Abuja on Monday.
The clash occurred when the minister appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Women Affairs to defend the 2020 budget proposed by her ministry.
As our correspondent entered the venue, Onuigbo was already fuming, asking the Chairman of the committee, Adewunmi Onanuga, to allow him to speak, which she reluctantly obliged.
Onuigbo said, “We realise that we are not in order and we are looking for ways and means of making sure we record progress in the interest of the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development. That is our position. It does not call for name-calling; more so, by somebody who came in as a minister for us to guide him or her. I take absolute and serious exception to that.”
The chairman asked if Tallen mentioned any name.
Onuigbo said, “She pointed, saying these two members. So, that is unacceptable. Madam, I must say this, even if it means my not coming back to this committee. I spoke on something that is very important. You don’t come here and sit down and make comments like that. I will not accept it. I’m a ranking member.
“Secondly, some of us in the communities work with women. If you go to my village, you will know that I have been attending women development meetings since 2000 – every year. They even call me an honorary member.
"So, I know what it means to support women and work for them. But if you brought in papers that are not in order, we are looking for ways to assist, that this be strengthened; it does not in any way call for name-calling from the honourable minister. That is unacceptable and I will not take it.”
Tallen, who attempted to reply Onuigbo, was blocked by the chairman.
Onanuga said, “Honourable Onuigbo, please, on behalf of the women and the ministry and this committee, I apologise to you. I, as the chairman, apologise to you. In all sincerity, I don’t think she (Tallen) meant it the way it came out.”
The chairman put the motion for adjournment to voice vote and it was unanimously approved.
Tallen, after the session, approached the lawmakers, including Onuigbo, for what looked like reconciliatory move.
Tallen told journalists, “Everything has been resolved. You should know how politicians talk sometimes. There is nothing new in it and everything has been fully resolved.”
The minister said she was asked to come forward with details of the budgetary performance of the ministry in the past years.