Saraki Hints at Reshuffling of Standing Committees


• Senate passes bills allowing NOUN law graduates to attend law school, establishment of Maritime University, Oron

By Damilola Oyedele in Abuja

The President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has hinted that there would be changes in the composition of the 68 standing committees of the Senate before the lawmakers embark on their annual recess before the end of July.

Saraki said this yesterday in reaction to observations by Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who faulted the composition of the committees.

Ekweremadu, while contributing to the debate on report of the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND on the Federal University of Maritime Studies, Oron, bill, observed that it was signed by only  12 out of 21 members.

“It is unusual the number of senators, 21, that  are in the tertiary institutions committee. It is unhealthy that many senators will be in many committees  that would make it difficult for them to attend meetings, “Ekweremadu said.

Saraki agreed with the observation by the Deputy Senate President.

“I agree with you in entirety. You will recall that at the leadership, we have discussed it. We must clean it up and this must be done before we go for our recess,” Saraki said.

The Senate President in a recent interview with THISDAY had also indicated that there would be a reshufflement. He had responded to enquiries on whether the Senate planned to change its rules regarding the chairmanship of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which is traditionally reserved for opposition party members.

The current Chairman of PAC, Senator Andy Uba, had decamped to the majority All Progressives Congress (APC) from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) last March.

“No, we are not changing the traditions. There are a number of things that we want to do, not only regards Senator Uba, a few changes are likely to happen. We decided to do a more holistic change and others, so it would happen. That position is always for the opposition, and it would remain like that,”  Saraki had told THISDAY.

Meanwhile, the Senate passed an amendment to the National Open University Act to allow law graduates of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN)  to attend law school.

The amendment also provides for the enlistment of all graduates of the institution to undergo the one-year compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme, provided they meet other requirements.

Graduates of NOUN are currently exempted from law school and the NYSC programme.

Adopting the recommendations of the Committee on Tertiary Education, presented by the Chairman, Senator Jibrin Barau (Kano North), the amendment also provided for the massive deployment of ICT facilities for learning in the NOUN.

Barau noted that the amendment also encourages life long learning.

The Senate also passed the bill establishing the Federal  Maritime University, Oron.

Barau noted that the establishment became necessary to address the dearth of manpower in the sector.

He added that Nigerians who study maritime-related courses have to do so abroad.

The establishment would also expand learning opportunities for youths in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country, Barau added.