Indications emerged yesterday that the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abba,. are planning to rejig the standing committees of the National Assembly.
LEADERSHIP’s findings showed that the idea was aimed at pacifying aggrieved lawmakers in both chambers as the National Assembly resumes plenary today.
LEADERSHIP learnt that Akpabio and Abbas are desirous of dousing the tension generated by the composition of the standing committees of the two chambers before the lawmakers embarked on recess in July.
A reliable source in the National Assembly told LEADERSHIP last night that Akpabio and Abbas were inundated with an avalanche of protests by their aggrieved colleagues during the holiday.
The leaders of the legislature were said to have placated their protesting colleagues with an assurance of their readiness to review the exercise upon resumption of plenary today.
This newspaper gathered yesterday that the presiding officers of the legislative houses had adopted two options to accommodate divergent interests of their colleagues, who were palpably disenchanted by the July 27 exercise when the chairmen and vice-chairmen of the various committees were allotted to the lawmakers.
Reliable sources close to the two presiding officers told our correspondent that they had agreed to swap the leadership of the committees as well as create new committees to accommodate the interests of the lawmakers, who were obviously unpleasant before the National Assembly was shut down in July and August.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the decision to rejig the committees of the National Assembly was reaffirmed by Akpabio and Abbas at the retreat held at Ikot-Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, on Thursday.
The composition of the committees and allocation of chairmen and vice-chairmen to the senators and representatives had generated protests and anger, with some aggrieved members threatening to unseat the presiding officers when the National Assembly resumes plenary.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the embittered lawmakers reportedly protested perceived lopsidedness, favouritism and undue patronage of some states in the allocation of the leadership slots of the various committees of both chambers.
In particular, investigations by LEADERSHIP revealed that the tension generated by the sharing of the committees in the Senate obviously propelled the rumour of the plan to impeach the Senate president during the recess.
For instance, this newspaper further learnt the three senators from Delta State vehemently protested that no chairmanship slot was allocated to any of them from the state.
LEADERSHIP was told that the three senators, Senators Ned Nwoko (Delta North), Ede Dafinone (Delta Central) and Joel Onowakpo (Delta South) wrote a strongly-worded petition to Akpabio that they were all denied the benefit of heading any of the committees.
The three senators were made vice chairmen of the committees in the Senate, whereas three senators from Cross Rivers State were named chairmen of committees.
The Delta senators sought the reversal of the status quo, to accommodate at least two, if not three, of them as committee chairmen.
Similarly, LEADERSHIP also learnt that Speaker Abbas had been under fire during the holiday, especially by members of his support group, Joint Task Group, which midwifed his aspiration ahead of his election in June.
Members of the group headed by Hon. Usman Bello-Kumo (APC, Gombe) as chairman and Hon. Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers) as co-chairmen, felt cheated and slighted by Abbas in the allocation of the leadership of the committees.
LEADERSHIP was told that the arrowheads of the group breathed down heavily on Abbas during the holiday.
Bello-Kumo and Chinda, who later became the minority leader of the House, asked Abbas to take serious steps to address the palpable marginalisation of members of the group upon the resumption of the House.
One of the sources said, “The leadership of the various committees in the National Assembly is going to be rejigged to address perceived marginalisation and exclusion by some states and legislators.”
One other source, who requested that his name should not be mentioned in print, told this newspaper that the latest development has triggered fresh jostling by the lawmakers for recognition to head either new committees or be given juicy committees in the planned swap of the leadership of the committees announced in July.
“The aggrieved lawmakers are hopeful and expectant that the presiding officers will ensure justice and fairness when the National Assembly reconvenes today so that everyone would be happy and move forward in the interest of the nation,” the source added.
Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Akin Rotimi Jr, said there was no such development in the House.
He, however, admitted that Abbas enjoyed the prerogative to tamper with the leadership of the committees as he deemed fit.
Rotimi, in a telephone interview with LEADERSHIP, said, “The process that produced the leadership of the committees was extensive by the selection committee that took into cognisance the professional competences and the need for equity across the board.
Senate spokesman, Senator Yemi Adaramodu, could not be reached for his reaction to the report. His number could not be reached while he didn’t respond to the message sent to his cell phone.
Economy, Appropriation, Electoral, Constitution Amendment Bills Top Agenda
Meanwhile, the 2024 Appropriation Bill, Electoral Act Amendment Bill, the state of the economy and the Constitution Amendment Bill will top the agenda of both chambers of the National Assembly as lawmakers resume plenary today.
The Senate proceeded on recess on August 7, 2023 shortly after the screening and confirmation of ministerial nominees submitted to them by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The House of Representatives had been on vacation since July 27.
During the recess, reports of a plot to remove Senate President Godswill Akpabio emerged. The report was however dismissed by the Senate and its president.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP on what Nigerians should expect upon resumption of the Senate today, the spokesman of the Red Chamber, Yemi Adaramodu, said the Senate is one, adding that they are coming back with full force to attend to issues such as the 2024 Appropriation Bill, the Electoral Act Amendment bill, the economy and the Constitution Amendment Bill.
Adaramodu told LEADERSHIP that since most of them met with their constituents during the recess, they are now armed with first-hand information on what Nigerians are going through and will work with the executive and the judiciary to address such challenges.
“We are coming out more energetic than usual. Apart from the 10th Assembly’s legislative agenda, we are coming out with a new agenda to enhance the living standard of the people and support the executive to address all aspects that need to be addressed urgently.
“Our legislative agenda is to cooperate with other arms of government. We are going to be engaging the executive on development issues, gender issues, the economy, electoral act, constitution amendment, the 2024 appropriation bill and so many other issues.
“We will be considering and ensuring that the oversight function is religiously looked at. The 2024 appropriation bill is something we will be looking up to.
Senate Screens New CBN Governor, Deputies Today
Barring any last-minute change of plan, the Senate will today screen a former chairman of the Board of Citi Bank Nigeria, Dr. Olayemi Michael Cardoso, for the position of the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The Senate will also screen four nominees for the positions of CBN deputy governors, who will join Cardoso as the Management Team to steer the affairs of the apex bank in the next five years.
According to a statement issued by the Media Office of the Senate Leader, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, yesterday, the Senate will screen all the nominees following its resumption from its annual recess today.
“Dr. Cardoso will be screened alongside four deputy governors, namely Mrs. Emem Nnana Usoro, Mr. Muhammad Sani Abdullahi Dattijo, Mr. Philip Ikeazor, and Dr. Bala M. Bello.
“Besides, the Senate has scheduled to screen the ministerial nominees – Dr. Jamila Bio Ibrahim and Mr. Ayodele Olawande, respectively, designated as minister of youth and minister of state for youth on October 3,” it stated.
LEADERSHIP reports that President Tinubu had September 15 approved the nomination of Cardoso to serve as the new governor of the CBN, along with the four deputy governors, pending their confirmation by the Senate.
Cardoso replaces Godwin Emefiele who was suspended by President Bola Tinubu and is facing prosecution at the court.