Presidency Moves to Prevent Opposition Parties from Chairing Prime C’ttees

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  • Wants number of standing committees reduced
  • APC picks Adamu as Senate Leader, zones House Leader to Kano

Chuks Okocha and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

Despite the horse-trading, electoral pacts, and cross-party understanding that preceded the recent election of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) members into the offices of Senate President, Deputy Senate President, House Speaker, and Deputy Speaker of the ninth National Assembly, it emerged at the weekend that the Presidency might have commenced moves to prevent opposition party legislators from chairing key committees, except for the constitutionally-reserved Public Accounts Committee.

The Presidency was also said to be asking for a reduction in the number of standing committees of the National Assembly in an alleged move to make them tally with the existing Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government for efficiency.

That was as the national leadership of APC was said to have named the party’s principal officers for the ninth National Assembly. A reliable source in the party told THISDAY that the party settled for Senator Abdullahi Adamu, representing Nasarawa State, as Senate Leader, and Senator Ajayi Boroffice, representing Ondo North, as Deputy Senate Leader, while zoning House Leader to North-west, particularly Kano State, and Deputy Leader to South-east (Abia).

Presidency sources, who spoke with THISDAY in confidence, said, “All over the parliaments across the world, the opposition parties are limited to the chairmanship of the Public Account Committees and Nigeria will not be any exception.

“It is to satisfy some of these campaign promises that eventually leads to creating more standing committees, which leads to duplication of the committees. If we succeed in getting the National Assembly leadership to key in by reducing the standing committees, it would align with the Buhari government’s policy of reduction in cost of running the National Assembly.

“These committees are running dip into the nation’s treasury and if we keep to the legislative terms of APC being the party with majority in both chambers and appropriating committees to APC members as chairmen, surely it will lead to reducing the cost of running the National Assembly.”

Speaking further, the source said, “In the same manner that APC has control of both chambers, we are not relenting to ensure that APC senators and members in the House are made chairmen of prime standing committees that have direct bearing on the vision of this administration.”

The source explained that committees, like those on education, petroleum, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), as well as committees that deal with health, poverty alleviation, and security must be chaired by APC members in both chambers.

THISDAY was reliably informed that both the Presidency and the leadership of the APC were together in this scheme, which was meant to enable them take effective charge of the legislature.

In the eighth National Assembly, there were 57 standing committees in the Senate and 89 standing committees in the House of Representatives.

But the Presidency, sources claimed, was of the opinion that the standing committees of the eighth National Assembly were deliberately expanded to create “jobs for the boys”, who supported the emergence of then Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.

The Presidency source explained that the creation of the standing committees was not healthy for the day-to-day operations of the MDAs and the lean treasury inherited by the present administration. According to the source, the leadership of the National Assembly has been duly informed to ensure that the standing committees to be constituted are in line with the administration’s policy of reduction in federal ministries.

The source claimed that Buhari had reduced the federal ministries and even merged some in the bid to reduce the cost of governance.

It was, however, gathered that the leadership of the National Assembly had been informed that the duplication of the standing committees and their performance of oversight duties made it difficult to reconcile the MDAs and the standing committees.

APC Picks Principal Officers of National Assembly

A source said APC zoned the post of Majority Leader of the Senate to the North-central, Deputy Majority Leader to the South-west, Chief Whip to the South-east, and Deputy Chief Whip to the North-west.

In the House of Representatives, according to the source, the ruling party zoned the House Leader to North-west, particularly Kano State, Deputy Leader to South-east (Abia), Chief Whip to South-south (Edo), and Deputy Chief Whip to North-east.

The party also picked former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, as Chief Whip, while Senator Yahyah Abdullahi from Kebbi State was chosen as Deputy Senate Chief Whip.

Confirming the nominations, the source said, “It is true that the party has picked Senator Abdulahi Adamu as the Senate Leader. We did for the House, too.

“The Leader of the House is zoned to Kano, though no name has been picked. The majority of the National Working Committee (NWC) members are for Alhassan Ado Doguwa and even the governor of Kano is for Doguwa.”

The source added, “For Deputy Leader, it is Hon. Nkiru Onyejiocha, Chief Whip has been zoned to Edo, the Deputy Chief Whip has been zoned to North-east.”