- Crisis is reportedly looming at the Senate over the appointment of chairmen of standing committees
- The appointment of the chairmen of the standing committees by the Senate president, Ahmad Lawan, had caused division among the senators
- Aggrieved lawmakers, however, demanded the reconstitution of the committees in the spirit of fairness
There are indications that all is not well at the upper legislative chamber over the appointment of chairmen of the Senate standing committees.
Guardian reports that unless the Senate president Ahmad Lawan manages the aftermath of the appointment with deftness, he could have a hard time, adding that the survival of any president of the red chamber hangs on his ability to manipulate the headship of committees.
Legit.ng gathered that the process is usually handled by a special body known as the selection committee which comprises the Senate president, his deputy, the majority leader, minority leader and all other principal officers but if anything goes wrong, aggrieved lawmakers naturally go for the jugular of the Senate president.
According to the newspaper, a juicy committee is a legislative organ with supervisory powers over government agencies that control huge finances, adding that such ministries are tagged Grade A, B, and C, committees likewise are labeled juicy, dry land or Siberia.
Juicy ministries have big budgets and agencies that generate a lot of revenue. Ministers in charge are often prefixed as ‘super’ and are the envy of their peers. Similarly, legislative committees overseeing such are regarded as highly favoured for obvious reasons.
It was gathered that the Senate committee on petroleum (upstream or downstream) might not be compared with its counterpart on culture and tourism. Again, the Senate committee on appropriation is considered more inviting than women affairs.
There was an attempt to carry ranking senators along in the current placements announced by Lawan but some senators in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), however, were left unhappy.
Forty-nine positions were allocated to APC senators while the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) got the remainder. Also, the northwest geopolitical zone had 16, southwest 13; northeast 11; north central 10; south-south 10 and southeast 9.
The chairmanship of 16 out of the 23 standing committees considered juicy went to APC senators while their PDP counterparts got the remaining seven.
Some faceless senators under the aegis of ‘9th Senate group for good governance’ have accused the leadership of the chamber of reneging on its campaign promises. They regretted that despite their moral and financial support to ensure Lawan emerged as Senate president, the committees assigned to them fell short of their expectations.
A statement they issued reads in part: “We are some of the senators who contributed our quota in the build-up to your emergence as president of the 9th Senate.
“You know very well that those who know you closely did everything possible to dissuade many of us. Many of your opponents raised a lot of questions, trying to convince us. We kept away all doubts and vigorously stood by you through thick and thin."
Guardian reports that some lawmakers actually confirmed that the development was tearing apart the camp of Lawan’s loyalists.
According to a source, “The issue is generating a serious crisis as some loyalists of the Senate president are accusing the leadership of favouring people from the north at the detriment of their southern counterparts.”
But Senate spokesman, Adedayo Adeyeye, however, dismissed insinuations about juicy committees, adding that there is nothing like juicy committee.
He said: “You journalists talk about juicy and non-juicy committees. In any case, juicy or non-juicy, I believe that it is a call to duty for senators to serve their fatherland and serve the nation meritoriously. So, in whatever capacity anybody has been placed, he has been called upon to merely render service.
“If you have 69 committees, there is no way about seven people who want to be chairman of a particular committee could get it. Only one person would be appointed. The Senate president has done everything possible to keep the Senate together and as such, there should not be any form of rancour on the issue either now or when we resume.”
The representatives of some civil society organisations have, however, criticised the lawmakers’ alleged desperation to head committees.
“The cause is essentially the greed with which they go to the National Assembly. Most of them are not there to serve the country. They are essentially there for their personal interest,” said Jude Ohanele, programme director of development dynamics.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that the Senate on Thursday, August 1, begged the aggrieved senators who were not happy with the list of standing committee chairmen to sheathe their swords and work in the interest of the country.
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