- Reps scramble for juicy c’ttees
Former Sokoto State Governor, Aliyu Wamakko has said that Senate President, Bukola Saraki still enjoys the backing of majority in the upper legislative chambers, blaming his current ordeal with the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT on those he described as some cabals within the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Wamakko who made this known to Senate Correspondents at the weekend said that, contrary to a report in a national daily that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Senators were plotting to take over Senate leadership, nothing could be farther from the truth.
He distanced President Muhammadu Buhari from the Saraki travails, blaming some cabals as being responsible instead.
He added that Senators are in one page on how to move forward and recover lost grounds.
His Words: “I see Mr. President, Saraki and senators holding a meeting very soon on how to resolve issues in the interest of democracy, which certain elements have been trying to subvert.
“They will find time to meet to stop our opponents from progressing with acts to sabotage democracy.
“Once the President and the Senate leadership sit on a round table with a resolve to re-tool the wheels of democracy for national progress, the cynics, the political rabble-rousers and those who never mean well for the APC government will go to sleep.”
Wamakko urged the media to be more circumspect about the current development in the senate by avoiding reports that could inflame passion and create further crisis.
Said Wamakko: “Majority of Senators weeks ago passed a vote of confidence on Saraki because they were convinced that his style of leadership has been broad and progress-inclined and nothing has changed.
“Majority of our colleagues still believe that Saraki remains a stabilising factor in the Senate for now.
“A change of leadership at this point in time as being canvassed will certainly spark some endless sessions of rancour, suspicion, crises and uncertainty among members.
“When such begins to happen, no one will be able to predict the end,” he said.
Meanwhile, as the senate resumes for another round of legislative business today after six weeks of recess, there are indication that palpable fear has gripped some senators and staff of the senate president, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki over the alleged plan by a group of senators to impeach him from the exalted position.
The anti-Saraki senators, who were opposed to his emergence as the senate president when they resumed for the 8th legislative assembly, are reportedly taking the advantage of a 13-count criminal charge bordering on false declaration of assets and operation of a foreign account, among others during his tenure as the Kwara State governor.
The senate president is presently being prosecuted at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, following the allegation brought before it by the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB.
The CCT had on the strength of alleged assets falsification charges leveled against Saraki by the CCB, served him a court summon recently for his appearance before it penultimate Friday.
The CCB had as widely reported in the social media recently, filed a 13-count charge against Saraki before the Tribunal through the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
Count one accused Saraki of making “false declaration in the assets declaration form for public officers on assumption of office as Governor of Kwara State by making an anticipatory
Members of Senate Unity Forum, SUF, are reportedly set to tackle those in the camp of the senate president, known as Senators of Likeminds over the alleged impeachment plot.
But the Chairman of the Senate Adhoc Committee on Media and Publicity, Senator Dino Melaye in a statement yesterday stated that the senate was ready to resume plenary and await communication from President Muhammadu Buhari.
Melaye, who is the coordinator of pro-Saraki senators, also dispelled speculations of a likely postponement of the resumption due to the anxiety and possible stormy session that may lead to the impeachment plot.
The spokesperson assured that the Senate will commence legislative activities and thus set to welcome communication from President Muhammadu Buhari.
Meanwhile, it was gathered that the House of Representatives members have been scrambling to head some of the ‘juicy committees’ as the National Assembly resumes plenary today.
Investigation by Nigerian Pilot revealed that some of these lawmakers, especially newly elected members, go through their state governors and senators to plead with the Speaker on their behalf, while returning members are daily pestering him with the request of heading such lucrative committees.
Currently, the lower chamber has 89 standing committees out of which 25 are considered as ‘juicy committees’.
They are: Army, Appropriations, Aviation, Banking and Currency, Custom and Excise, Defence, Education, Environment, Federal Capital Territory, Finance, Gas Resources, Health, House Services, Interior and Justice.
Others include: Land Transport, Marine Transport, Navy, Niger Delta Development Commission, NNDC, Niger-Delta, Petroleum Resources (Down Stream), Petroleum Resources (Up Stream), Power, Public Accounts and Works.
Nigerian Pilot learnt that as soon as the Green Chamber adjourned plenary on August 13, 2015 to September 29, 2015, these lawmakers intensified their lobbying for these ‘juicy committees’.
One of the lawmakers, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said he would like to chair the House Committee on Marine in the 8th Assembly.
Though he said he wants to chair the committee because of his desire and passion for Marine Transport, investigation, however, reveals that a good number of them scramble for such committees for personal gains.
Our correspondent also gathered that many legislators that are likely to chair these juicy committees will come from the pro-Dogara camp.
A senior legislative aide, who would not want his name mention, told Nigerian Pilot that it had become a re-occurring phenomenon for lawmakers to scramble for ‘juicy committees’ at the beginning of new administration.
He recalled that the same scenario played out in the 7th House of Representatives when some of the lawmakers loyal to Aminu Tambuwal chaired most of the so-called lucrative committees.
Interestingly, allocation of ‘juicy committees’ formed part of campaign strategy in the run up to the speakership election on June 9.
One of the contestants for the speakership position, Hon Abdulmumin Jibrin, who later stepped down for Dogara, used such bait to entice fellow lawmakers to vote for him.
He even promised to allocate 75 per cent of committees to the 233 newly elected members.
Though, it would be recalled that Dogara did not make any public statement on giving ‘juicy committees’ to some persons, rumour had it that his determination to clinch the number four position might have forced him to make such promises in confidence to his teeming loyalists.
Our correspondent also gathered that despite the selection committee in place, with one representative from each state, the Speaker has the final approval as to who heads what committee.
Some of his loyalists in the PDP have expressed confidence that the Speaker would be fair to all members in the distribution of committees irrespective of party affiliation.
A member representing Ivo/Ohaozara/Onicha Federal Constituency of Ebonyi State in the lower chamber, Hon Linus Okorie, expressed hope that Dogara would be just to all in sharing committee positions, describing the Speaker as a transparent and de-tribalised Nigerian.
Okorie was of the view that nothing was wrong with members angling to head one committee or the other, especially where they have the competence.
“There is no doubt that the Speaker will be fair to all while allocating committee positions. He is a just and honest man.
“Again, it is a normal expectation that the leadership of the House names the various committees soon after resumption to enable the House fully assume its critical legislative functions of lawmaking and oversight.
“There is also nothing abnormal in members scrambling towards committees where their skill, competence and training will be better utilized in moving the nation forward.
“So I expect the House to constitute the committees on resumption or soon after; especially the appointment of chairmen and deputy chairmen of the committees.
House Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor, argued that it was a usual thing to find members scrambling for one committee or another at the inception of a new administration.
He said the angling was unnecessary, adding that he expects the leadership of the House to be fair to all sides in appointing the chairmen and deputy chairman of the various committees.
Meanwhile, the Speaker is set to inaugurate some of the sensitive committees this week.
These committees are: Rules and Business, House Services, Media and Public Affairs, Finance, Appropriations and Public Accounts.
It was reliably gathered that the House cannot work smoothly without these committees in place.