Just after the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan announced the chairmen of the senate 69 standing committees, senators of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are already in what can be termed face-off with the senate leadership over the distribution of the offices.
According to Guardian we gathered that the distribution of some 23 committees considered to be at Grade A level (otherwise referred to as juicy committees) is at the heart of the growing tension.
Although Lawan gave chairmen of 16 of the 23 Grade A committees to APC senators, leaving 7 to the opposition some are claiming that the method of sharing was a breach of what they described as a gentleman’s agreement among the top notchers of the ruling party who wanted the whole 23 restricted to APC lawmakers.
In a swift intervention to check the brewing crisis, the presidency has defended the actions of the Lawan-led Senate leadership.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Solomon Ita-Enang, explained to journalists in Abuja yesterday that the refusal of the Senate to restrict committee chairmanship positions to only the APC was in line with the best parliamentary practices.
“When somebody is elected to the Senate, he becomes a member of that Senate and he is entitled to all the rights and privileges. When somebody is campaigning to be elected as presiding officer, speaker, deputy speaker, president of the Senate or deputy president of the Senate, he is doing so for votes of the majority party and the minority party that are represented because each senator has one vote. When a senator is elected, he represents his constituency first, and secondly, he represents his party by sitting on his party’s seat.
“Therefore, in the distribution of assignments and privileges, it is normally considered that you should not by any means make one constituency inferior to the other. That is the principle that causes the presiding officer to embrace the minority parties.
“Also, when one becomes a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, you are entitled to all the privileges and rights of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Therefore, on the basis of equality of senators, equality of membership and equality of seats, the discretion to embrace
all is in the heart and hand of the presiding officer,” Ita-Enang said.
The APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, who was at the Senate earlier on Tuesday before the names of the chairmen of committees were announced, had in March, directed the APC-dominated National Assembly to ensure that the party was made to head an overwhelming number of the committees.
Barely hours before the announcement of the committee chairmen on Tuesday, the national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was in the national assembly in company of former governor of Bayelsa, Timipre Sylva who is lobby headship of Niger Delta Committee to an APC senator.
But to their disappointment, Lawan gave the committee to a PDP senator, Peter Nwaboshi from Delta state.
On the condition of anonymity, the lawmaker expressed disgust that he was not made the chairman of the committee on appropriation even after he had not only merited it but struck an agreement with Lawan to that effect.
Meanwhile, there are allegations that the original list of committee chairmen agreed to by the selection committee was tampered with.
It was further alleged that the list Lawan read out on Tuesday was dominated by hand-written names as against the list that was earlier typed for him.
Among the APC senators who are to head some of the Grade A committees are Barau Jubril (Appropriation); Oluremi Tinubu (Communication); Abdullahi Adamu (Agriculture); Uba Sani (Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions); Abubakar Kyari (FCT); and Mohammed Bulkachuwa (Foreign Affairs).
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