Discordant tunes and outright rejection trailed the announcement of the chairmen of the 96 standing committees of the House on October 22. Some All Progressives Congress, APC legislators have even resigned their appointments, while others are kicking against the committees’ composition on grounds that most of the so-called ‘important committees’ went to the opposition. In this piece, DOZIE EMMANUEL writes that some of the APC lawmakers are not resting on their oars despite the peace and familiarisation meeting with the speaker.
Many thought that the House will quickly settle down for business after the leadership crisis that engulfed  the lower chamber for months following the emergence of Hon. Yakubu Dogara as Speaker and Hon. Yusuf Lasun as Deputy Speaker on June 9, 2015. It took the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari and leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC to bring the crisis to amicable resolution.
Unfortunately, as the lawmakers are gradually settling down for serious parliamentary work, the issue of committee composition came up. Many lawmakers have kicked against the current formula adopted by the speaker in sharing the 96 standing committees in the Green Chamber.
On October 22, 2015, the speaker finally announced the much-awaited chairmen, deputy chairmen and members of the various committees. This followed the inauguration of the committees on November 9.  In the sharing of the committees, APC lawmakers got 48 chairmanship slots, PDP got 46, while Social Democratic Party, SDP and All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA got one slot each.
No sooner the committees were announced on the floor of the House than some APC lawmakers loyal to the House Leader, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila
started kicking against it on grounds that there were plot to prevent the ruling party from effecting the change it promised Nigerians.
Sequel to the criticism and bickering that trailed the committees composition, some of the APC lawmakers have openly resigned their appointments and called on the speaker to re-visit the matter and possibly re-constitute the committees.
Of course, it came as a surprise to most of the lawmakers when Hon. Garba Datti Muhammad representing Sabon Gari Federal Constituency of Kaduna State on the platform of the APC overtly resigned his appointment as Chairman of the House Committee on Solid Minerals Development because he was not consulted before the appointment was made.
The former Deputy Minority Whip in the seventh Assembly said that the decision was personal and was not taken based on any external influence.
According to Datti, “I feel as a former principal officer I should have been consulted before my name was announced. I just heard of it on the floor. I have my own principles, I have decided on my own to withdraw as the chairman of that committee.
Two days after Datti’s resignation, Hon. Sunday Adepoju, representing Ibarapa East/Ido of Oyo State on the platform of APC followed suit. Coming under Order six of the House Standing Rules, Hon. Adepoju announced that he had resigned his appointment as the House Deputy Committee Chairman on Special Duties.
”Yes, I have tendered my resignation because I did not believe that the APC was fairly treated by the speaker. A situation where the opposition took the committees so vital to the change agenda of the APC government is not acceptable to the people of his constituency.
“The committees on powers, aviation, works, petroleum and others are with the PDP. The speaker is intelligent enough to know the best way to handle this issue,” Adepoju stated.
In order to calm frayed nerves and avoid further crisis rocking the lower chamber, the speaker held a familiarisation meeting with all the committee chairmen, deputies and members where he pleaded with some of the aggrieved lawmakers to shield their sword and accept their appointments in good faith.
But it was reliably gathered that despite the fence-mending meeting, some APC lawmakers, who felt they were short-changed in the sharing of the committee appointments, are still adamant and called on the speaker to allocate more committees to the ruling party. These aggrieved lawmakers have insisted that the leadership of the House should take a second look at the list with a view of doing some adjustments.
One of such lawmakers, who has persistently expressed dissatisfaction on the current composition of the House committee is Hon. Aliyu Madaki (APC Kano).  The lawmaker, a staunch supporter of the House Leader, had walked out in annoyance during one of the plenary sessions, because he was not allowed to air his views on the matter.
According to him, “I wanted to draw the attention of the House to do that which is proper; that which is enshrined in the constitution, that which is enshrined in the House Order.
“These are the two books we use in running of our affairs, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and I quoted Section 36 (1) of the constitution where it talks about giving everybody a fair hearing.”
The pertinent questions on the lips of most Nigerians are: What exactly does the Gbajabiamila group want? Why is his group always agitating despite that the position of the House Leader went to them against the spirit of zoning?
In all this, Gbajabiamila has not hidden his intention that the APC legislators were indeed short-changed in the committees composition. Perhaps, this is why he boycotted the inauguration of the committees, and instead was in company of other members to address a press briefing at the APC head office in Abuja, where he accused the Speaker of working against the President and the party.
In his letter addressed to the speaker dated October 20, 2015, Gbajabiamila said, “Hon. Speaker, I acknowledge your right and prerogative to determine the leadership of the House Committees and I intend to work with you after such determination has been made. I intend and have stated on many occasions privately and publicly to work with you for the progress of the House.
“However, I am constrained at this point to ask that due consideration is given to the provisions of our House Rules. Order 7 Rule 10, paragraph (a) of the House rules which states that the Speaker “shall in consultation with principal officers, appoint the Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen from among the members on the committee.
“On the role of the Majority/House Leader: Order 7 Rule 27 (2)c says that the leader of the House shall, “liaise with Committee Chairmen and other functionaries of the House.
“Hon. Speaker, in the light of the foregoing provisions of our Rules and in line with parliamentary tradition world over, undermining the office of the Leader or any other principal officer would not strengthen the legislature or our democracy.
“The situation where any principal officer whether from the majority or minority party only knows of the appointment referred to above upon announcement on the floor will not augur well for the progress of this House.
“I have taken liberty to write to you on this matter for record purposes and in the hope that every principal officer in this House would be given its due as enshrined in our House Rules. Accept the assurances of my highest regards.”
But reacting on the agitation of the pro-Gbajabiamila lawmakers, the House Committee Chairman on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas, said he was surprised that some lawmakers seem not to appreciate the reason they were elected to the National Assembly. He insisted that the Committees on Appropriations and Finance, seen as being in charge of allocating funds, went to the APC.
“The point should be made that committees by convention are held by certain zones, we can’t change that now.
The speaker merely kept the tradition. Members should know that our reason for being here is not to fight over committees”, Namdas stated.
Similarly, some PDP lawmakers have described the resignation of the lawmakers as unfortunate. Hon. Linus Okorie (PDP, Ebonyi) argued that they ought to have placed the country first before their selfish interest. He, however, said that their resignation would not in any way affect the smooth running of the parliament.
After the familiarisation meeting with all the lawmakers, there were speculations that the speaker may revisit the composition of the House committees to avert possible looming crisis. But this was quickly dismissed by the Deputy House spokesman, Hon. Gaza Jonathan. He reiterated there was no plan by the leadership of the House to re-constitute the 96 standing committees.  Jonathan stressed that there was no committee crisis in the Green Chamber following the peace meeting the speaker had with the lawmakers.
Although for now, everything appears calm in the lower chamber, Nigerian Pilot Sunday learnt that some of the aggrieved APC legislators are buying time in order to unleash their onslaught later.
In-as-much as Nigerians are not praying for any uprising in the lower chamber, now, or in the nearest future, the possibility of crisis resurfacing in respect to the current committees’ composition, cannot be completely overruled.


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