Just ahead of the July 2, 2019, resumption date of the two chambers of the National Assembly, President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan and the speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila are under intense pressure on how to share ‘juicy’ committees to their colleagues, especially those who campaigned for them.
Leadership on Sunday, June 23, 2019, reports that the two chambers of the National Assembly embarked on a three-week recess and will resume on Tuesday, July 2, 2019.
But sources said that both Lawan and Gbajabiamila, who were the preferred choices of the All Progressives Congress, APC, to head the legislative arms before the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly, are now faced with serious dilemma as their colleagues from different political parties scramble for committee chairmanship.
In the Senate, it was gathered that it is not only about the scramble for committees, the battle also is about who emerges as the Senate leader with Abdullahi Adamu, Rochas Okorocha, Orji Uzo Kalu and host of others being considered.
Unlike in the House of Representatives, the Senate under Lawan only constituted home and welfare committee that will arrange for their sitting arrangement and offices.
The 12-member committee, which is to submit it report this week, is chaired by Senator Abba Kyari (Borno North) and is liaising with the management of the National Assembly for the chamber’s sitting arrangement and provision of offices.
Leadership reports that despite the scramble for ‘juicy’ committees, the selection committee has not been set up.
“There is a process. A selection committee must be on ground and I can tell you that the committee will be set up immediately the Senate returns from recess,” a source said.
“Well, this will not be an issue. The Senate president has done some appointments recently and these staffers will help him in discharging his duties. There is no cause for alarm. Every interest would be taken care of,” another source close to the Senate president, who is familiar with the present scramble for juicy committees, told our correspondent.
According to him, the Senate president is considering competence for every office, and that sharing of committees will not reflect political platforms lawmakers belongs to.
“I can’t say anything about the issue of who becomes the next leader of the Senate because it will be a collective decision of the ruling party and the senators,” the source added.
Mohammed Isa, the Special Assistant to the President of the Senate on Media and Publicity, could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives are also intensely jostling for chairmanship of ‘juicy’ standing committees of the House.
Members, especially those who supported Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila during his campaign, are reportedly reaching out to him to consider them for specific committees.
It would be recalled that the speaker had urged all members who are interested in specific Standing Committees in which they have competence to submit their resume for consideration during the inauguration of three ad-hoc committees.
The resume will the basis upon which chairmanship and membership of committees will be constituted.
Leadership gathered that the lawmakers, who are mostly returning for another term, have been lobbying the speaker and his deputy, Ahmed Wase, to consider them for headship of some select committees.
A member hinted that while the speaker is giving them audience, he is also making efforts to ensure that those grounded in the workings of respective committees head them.
The lawmaker, who was at the forefront of the speaker’s campaign, also noted that the speaker was poised to make committees very vibrant and active, hence his insistence on lawmakers’ resume.
“Members are lobbying and meeting the speaker to be chairmen but he has made us understand that it won’t be business as usual. The speaker wants those who are qualified in different sectors to be chairmen.
“And I want to tell you that he has also assured that unlike past practices where members get to be chairmen just because of their personal relationship with the speaker or deputy speaker, competence will be the major factor to appointing chairmen. As someone who has been in the House, the speaker said he wants round pegs in round holes as that is one way to make sure we carry out our oversight functions effectively,” he stated.
Another lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, stated that lobbying might not necessarily work this time as the speaker is looking to work with all members across party lines, adding that “he wants to move away from the norm”.
On the position of the party’s national chairman on chairmanship positions, the lawmaker stated that elections were over and it was time for the House to work as an institution to move the country forward.
“Yes, our chairman said that only members of the APC will chair committees, but like I’m sure you’ve heard and know, it doesn’t work like that and the speaker has reiterated that the 9th House will be all-inclusive. Every party will be represented. It is okay for members to lobby but, like I said, I doubt if it will work under Gbajabiamila.”
Leadership reports that the speaker had stated that committees would be unfolded in the coming weeks and that he intended to carry the opposition along.
Gbajabiamila said, “You heard my inaugural speech; we are going to be doing things differently. We are going to build on whatever the achievements are of the 8th Assembly”.
It was also gathered that some lawmakers have employed underground measures to achieve their aims with some resorting to using the Presidency to intervene on their behalf while others, especially those who worked to ensure the emergence of the Speaker, are appealing for juicy committees as a way of compensation.
At the moment, it is very difficult to name those who may be appointed, but a very critical lawmaker that would be appointed into a juicy committee is the director general of Gbajabiamila/Wase campaign organisation, Abdulmumin Jibril.
According to sources, all lawmakers who were part of the Gbajabiamila speakership campaign would be appointed into ‘juicy committees.’
The Selection Committee is chaired by the Speaker, Gbajabiamila, why the adhoc committees on Welfare and Media are headed by Wale Raji (APC-Lagos) and Khadijat Abbah-Ibrahim (APC-Yobe).
Meanwhile, the battle for who becomes the minority Leader in the House of Representatives has caused serious division among the lawmakers elected under the platform of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Already, many lawmakers in the House of Representatives are jostling for the principal officer’s job and are employing all political strategies to undo another. The lawmakers who are all experienced in the legislative business have formed varied camps.
Findings revealed that electing a minority leader must be based on ranking and the wealth of experience of the lawmaker. The position of minority leader is said to have been zoned to South-South.
According to Leadership findings, in order of ranking, Hon Nicholas Mutu (PDP Delta), who has been in the House since 1999, has not shown interest in the job.
Other lawmakers who are in the race are Leo Ogor and Essien Ayi who were elected in 2003, and Ndudi Elumelu (2007), Kingsley Chinda (2011), Nicholas Ossai (2011) respectively.
A usually authoritative source in the House of Representatives has reliably informed Leadership that over 80 members of the minority parties in the chamber have endorsed their preferred principal officers and will soon unveil them to the House leadership.
It was gathered that a third term member from a state in the South South has been endorsed by over 80 members of PDP, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), African Democratic Congress (ADC), and Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Other minority parties that gave their endorsement also included the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Allied Peoples Movement (APM) and Peoples Redemption Party (PRP)
A fourth term member from Kaduna State has also been endorsed as deputy minority leader while another fourth term member from the South East has been tipped for the position of minority whip .
Since the two slots to the South are occupied by Christians, a Muslim from South West was endorsed for Deputy Minority Whip for balance.
The resolution of the caucus is to be presented for affirmation and communicated to the leadership of all the minority parties in the House.
“This development has clearly shown that the selection of the minority principal officers is not a preserve right of one political party.
“The Southwest slot is likely to be occupied by a ranking legislator from a state where PDP is not performing well so that the legislator can be rallying point and raise the party in the state,” the source said yesterday.
However, investigation further revealed that most of the opposition members who were picked for the minority principal offices openly supported the emergence of Hon. Gbajabiamila as speaker.
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