Issues as Senate constitutes standing committees

The appointment of chairmen for Special Committees in the 10th Senate has been generating ripples. How the Senate leadership intends to settle the matter without rancour remains to be seen; TOPE SUNDAY writes.

Last week, the President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, named Chairmen for Special Committees in the 10th Senate. In his first appointment, no member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is included in the already-named committees.

The committees

Senator Akpabio in line with the Standing Orders 2022, as amended, named members to the Selection Committee which has him as the chairman with the Deputy President President of the Senate, Jibrin Barau, as the vice-chairman, and other principal officers of both the majority and minority caucuses as members.

Members of the Selection Committee are Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central); the Senate Majority leader; Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno); the Senate Chief Whip Senator Dave Umahi (APC, Ebonyi South: the Deputy Leader and Senator Lola Ashiru (APC, Kwara South; the Deputy Whip.

Other members are Senator Simon Davou Mwadkwon, PDP, Plateau North, the Senate -Minority Leader; Senator Darlington Nwokocha, LP, Abia Central, the Minority Whip; Senator Oyewumi Kamorudeen Olarere, PDP Osun West, the Deputy Minority Leader and Senator Rufai Hanga, NNPP, Kano Central, the Deputy Minority Whip.

He also named Senator Tutus Zam, APC, Benue North West as the Chairman, of Rules and Business; Senator Sunday Karimi, APC, Kogi West as Chairman of Senate Services; Senator Okechukwu Ezea, LP, Enugu East as Chairman, Ethics, Privileges, and Public Petitions; and Senator Aliyu Ahmed Wadada, SDP, Nasarawa West as Chairman, Public Accounts Committee.

Others are, National Security and Intelligence Committee with Senator Shehu Umar as chairman; Legislative Compliance Committee has Senator Garba Maidoki as Chairman and Media and Public Affairs has Senator Adeyemi Adaramodu, APC, Ekiti Committee.

The senate president also named Senator Olamilekan Adeola, APC, Ogun West as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee and Senator Ali Ndume, APC, Borno South as Vice Chairman.

Setback for PDP

Aside from the positions of the Senate Minority Leader, which is occupied by Senator Simon Davou Mwadkwon, PDP, Plateau North, and Minority Whip being held by Senator Oyewumi Kamorudeen Olarere, PDP Osun West, there is no member of the party named in the already-named committees.

With the sharing of positions from the opposition political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP has two, New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP and Labour Party, LP with one each, leaving out the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, the Social Democratic Party, SDP and the Young Progressives Party, YPP.

With the inauguration of the 10th Senate, the ruling APC has 59 Senators; the PDP has 36 Senators; the Labour Party, LP has 8 Senators; the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP has 2 Senators; the Social Democratic Party, SDP has 2 Senators while the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA and the Young Progressives Party, YPP with one Senator each. With the composition, the six opposition political parties have altogether 50 Senators as against APC’s 59.

Reactions

Though the senate president has asked his colleagues to pick forms and indicate their specialisation, areas of interest, and Committees that they would wish to serve, the announcement seems to be generating ripples as some believed it is designed to tame some PDP Senators, who it was rumoured worked against the emergence of the senate president.

Speaking with Blueprint Weekend, a public affairs analyst, Comrade Sunday Alafia, said there is an intense fighting over the composition of the standing committees and cautioned that the interest of Nigerian people should be considered.

“At every new calendar of National Assembly leadership’s composition, there is always bound to be issues, lobbying for juicy committee’s chairmen and all in the personal interest of parties involved. Ahead of the composition of special and standing committees in the 10th Senate, intense lobbying for the juicy committees has commenced among senators, even the minority caucus has resolved to fight for chairmanship of the juicy committees as a bloc.

“But we have not so far identified any opposition party name in the rumoured list and again this scenario, if it is truly confirmed, could stir up another crisis in the chamber. We also heard from the grave vine that the Senate president himself is having an interest in the leadership composition as usual, I mean, allocating more juicy committee chairmanship positions to his preferred candidates, and of course, the Northern elements have reportedly kicked against it,” he said.

He said further, “The fight for who chairs the 63 standing committees has become tense, with the issue of ranking, party affiliation, loyalists, former governors, and close associates shaping the composition, all raising serious dust presently. It will be recalled that Senator Godswill Akpabio emerged president of the Senate on Tuesday, June 13, having scored 63 votes to defeat the former governor of Zamfara state, Senator Abdulaziz Yari (APC, Zamfara West), who polled 46 votes.

“The lobby is more intense for the chairmanship of such committees as Appropriations, Services, Downstream Petroleum Sector, Upstream Petroleum Sector, Banking, Insurance, and other financial institutions. Others include Army, Defence, Finance, Navy, Niger Delta Affairs, Customs, Excise and Tariff, Gas, Works, Foreign Affairs, Health, and Power.

“The fight for who takes what is ongoing and Nigerians are watching with keen interest and hoping that the interest of the masses and Nigeria as a whole should prevail in whatever choices of leadership in the country.”

Also speaking, a political scientist, Mr. Femi Fayomi, who noted that it is too early to hold the view that PDP will not have any chairmanship position in the 10th Senate, said the internal wrangling in the party would no doubt stand as a major setback in the selection of the chairmanship positions.

Fayomi, who is also a lecturer at the Federal University, Oye, Ekiti state, stated that the Senate under Akpabio will prefer to enlist other opposition parties Senators into the chairmanship positions as a ploy to weaken the strength and influence of the PDP within the minority caucus.

He said: “It is rather too early to hold the view that PDP will not have any chairmanship position in the 10th Senate. Although, the internal wrangling in PDP will no doubt stand as a major setback in the selection of the chairmanship positions.

“The Senate under Sen. Akpabio will prefer to enlist other opposition parties Senators into the chairmanship positions as a ploy to weaken the strength and influence of the PDP within the minority caucus. The appointment into chairmanship positions of LP and SDP Senators could be regarded as a reward for the unparalleled support the parties gave him on the inauguration day. It will weaken the influence of PDP within the legislative arm of government.”

UNI Agric Markurdi
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