There is disquiet among notable chairmen of the 89 Standing Committees in the House of Representatives following the recent announcement by Speaker Yakubu Dogara to reshuffle the committees.
In his opening remarks at the second year anniversary of the eighth session of the House of Representatives, Dogara had queried the performance of some chairmen of the Standing Committees.
On his part, Femi Gbajabiamila, minority leader, who delivered a goodwill message on behalf of the South-West caucus, underscored the need for the overhaul of the House Committee on Legislative Compliance saddled with responsibility of ensuring that various arms of government as well as Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) comply with the resolution passed by the House.
Some of the standing committees that may be affected due to output are: Committees on Cooperation & Integration in Africa; Culture & Tourism; Emergency & Disaster Preparedness; Drugs and Narcotics; Fredom of Information (Reform of Government Institutions); HIV, AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria Control; Housing; Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values; Local Content; National Planning & Economic Development; Population; Police Affairs; Power; Poverty Alleviation; a special Duties and Steel.
In his mid-term review of the legislative activities, Dogara said: “This self-appraisal cannot be complete without mentioning areas for further improvement. The timely submission of reports by various Committees require improvement in the next legislative Session.
“To this end, we would ensure that timelines for legislative measures referred to Committees are strictly enforced. We need to also ensure that Ad-Hoc Committees do not constitute themselves into permanent or Standing Committees.
“Furthermore, we need to do a better job of coordinating the activities of various Committees to ensure synergy and avoid overlapping of activities and functions,” he said.
Dogara, who emphasised the need for stewardship as representatives of the 360 federal constituencies of Nigeria, added that: “It is important to ask ourselves some hard questions. Have we always placed the interest of our Constituents and Nigerians first in all our endeavours?
“Have we always placed national interest above self, regional and other interests? Are we patriotic or partisan? Have we used our legislative authority to expose corruption, inefficiency and waste in government activities? Have we made laws for the peace, order, and good government of Nigeria? Have we shown fidelity to the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy enshrined in Chapter two of the Constitution?”
Some of the lawmakers who reacted to the Speaker’s assertion under condition of anonymity, warned the Speaker to tread with caution in order to avert another internal crisis.
“Well, I won’t say the planned redeployment is unnecessary considering the output of those who were chosen to head the committees in fairness to him, most of them underperformed.
“We did cried out in the first place that merit should be prioritise but they turned deaf ears to the harmless advise given to them because they see some of us as opposition within the ruling party, but I think the reality has done on them now. We can only hope they’ll learn from the past and move forward.
“However, the fear of the banana peels is also a factoe to be considered because it may boomerang beyond expectation of any of them,” the lawmaker said.
Another lawmaker, who spoke with our correspondent punctured the decision over indiscriminate expansion of committees in order to create committees for loyalists of the speaker, stressing that the splitting of some key committees and setting up parallel ad-hoc committees contributed to the overlap of functions of some committees which the speaker observed in his speech.