Tuesday, 10 November 2015

House of Representatives' crisis deepens

House of Representatives
The crisis rocking the House of Representatives deepened on Monday, as the Majority Leader of the House, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, shunned the official inauguration of the 96 Standing Committees of the House by the Speaker, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, saying he was not consulted in all the processes which led to the inauguration.

While the inauguration ceremony was in progress at the Chamber of the House of Representatives, Honourable Gbajabiamila was said to be busy, holding consultations on the matter at the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Secretariat, Abuja, where scores of journalists had been laying siege for hours on his invitation.

However, the Chief Whip of the House, Honourable Alhassan Ado Doguwa, in his remarks, faulted Honourable Gbajabiamila’s claim, saying all the nine other principal officers were duly consulted and participated in the processes which culminated in the inauguration.
According to Honourable Ado, “ I am speaking on behalf of other nine principal officers duly consulted by the presiding officer of the eighth House of Representatives, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, that we are in total support of Mr Speaker in all the processes that culminated to this inauguration ceremony; we support wholeheartedly the official inauguration of the Standing Committees by the Speaker.”
Honourable Gbajabiamila’s media aide, Mr Olanrewaju Smart, had in an interview with newsmen on Sunday, stated that “as far as we are concerned, there had been no official communication to the office of the Leader and we will be guided accordingly.”

Inaugurating the committees, Dogara said the “decision to formally inaugurate all the committees at once is borne out of the need for the committees to hit the ground running. It is also informed by the need to save cost and reduce legislative time that may be spent in inaugurating each committee independently.”

On the number of committees, the Speaker said “it is to ensure value for money for Nigerians and that our laws and policies are implemented faithfully, that many committees have been created. The need for more effective and efficient legislative oversight activities also informed this action.
According to him, “this reasoning also informed the splitting of other committees, like health, which has about 150 institutions. Agriculture Committee was also split for the same reason. There is merit sometimes in setting up specific committees to handle specific problems,” he stated.
The Speaker, however, noted that the change promised Nigerians could only endure and outlive any government which introduced it, only when it was anchored on legislation and not mere policy, stressing that policy changes could easily be changed by an incoming government.
To this end, he said: “It is necessary to point out that the splitting of committees has not resulted in increased cost of running the House. The committee clerks and other staff of the committees are sourced from the existing pool of staff being paid salaries and allowances already by the National Assembly.
“The committee members are already paid salaries also by the National Assembly. No person gets an increased remuneration by virtue of appointment as a committee member or chairman.. The National Assembly budget has not been increased as a result. The situation in the Legislature is slightly different from the situation in the Executive branch, where creating a new agency or ministry may lead to increased cost of running the offices.
Speaking on the new committees that were set up, he said “some new committees were also set up to meet the exigencies of the moment and in response to the demand of some of our development partners for better oversight of funds that are being raised for a particular sector.
“This reason informed the creation of the new committee on IDPs, Refugees, and Initiatives on the North- East. The House also created a new committee on Delegated Legislation to fulfill our legislative agenda, where the House committed itself to evolving mechanisms to track delegated legislation.”
On the anti-corruption war of the government, he said “we are committed to the anti-corruption fight of the present administration. Therefore, each committee of the House is expected to lead this fight through their legislative actions.”
While calling on members to work together as one, he said “a committee that works together has better chances of executing its mandate successfully. The leadership of committees should involve committee members fully in committee assignments”.

Leadership of the House, he said would continue to monitor the performance of the leadership of the various committees and would conduct a mid-term review.
According to him, “those who have not been appointed into leadership of committees should note that it is not a reflection of their capacity or competence. There will be other avenues to render service to the House and the nation. In any case, if any member in a leadership position fails to justify the confidence reposed in him or her, other persons will be given the responsibility.”

Credit: Nigerian Tribune

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