Bukola Saraki constitutes 65 committees for 109 senators
FIVE months after the inauguration of the Eighth Senate, its President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki yesterday, constituted 65 committees for the 109- member upper legislative chamber.
In the House of Representatives, the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara has increased the number of committees from 84 that it was in the last session to 96 in a 360-member lower chamber.
Some of the committees are however limited in scope and coverage, making the idea of setting them up in the first instance suspect in a period that President Muhammadu Buhari is trying to reduce the cost of governance.
For instance, there is a committee on anti-corruption headed by Jide Akinloye and another one on Financial Crimes headed by Kayode Oladele while there is even one on Internally-Displaced Persons (IDP) in the Northeast, headed by Sani Zoro.
The Senate President also announced the immediate adjournment of Senate plenary session till next Tuesday even as his trial by the Code of Conduct Tribunal over the alleged false declaration of assets resumes today and continues Friday.
But the spokesman of the Senate, Dino Melaye, told journalists after the plenary session yesterday that today’s sitting was shifted till Tuesday to allow four ad-ad-hoc committee conclude their investigations and submit a report to the Senate next week.
From the list of the 65 committees, the All Progressives Congress (APC) produced 41 chairmen of committees while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has 24.
Former President of the Senate, David Mark, was however, not appointed to head any committee.
The list also showed that the sole candidate of the APC for the position of Senate President in the June 9, 2015 Senate leadership contest, Ahmed Lawan was appointed chairman of the committee on Defence while the party’s candidate for the position of Deputy President, George Akume, was appointed chairman of the committee on Army.
Other members of the Senate Unity Forum that campaigned for Lawan against Saraki who were appointed as committee chairmen include, Abdullahi Adamu (Agriculture), Barnabas Gemade (Housing), Kabiru Marafa (National Identity Card).
Wife of a national leader of the APC, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, was appointed the chairman of the Committee on Women Affairs.
Leading PDP senators appointed committee chairmen include Hope Uzodinma (Aviation), Gilbert Nnaji (Communication), Uche Ekwunife (Downstream Petroleum), Olaka Johnson Nwogu (Environment), Andy Uba (Public Accounts), John Enoh (Finance), Bassey Albert Akpan (Gas).
Also yesterday, the Senate advised Buhari to prevail on his immediate predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to account for money spent by his administration on the Subsidy Re-investment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) and other poverty alleviation programmes.
The Senate, however, dashed the hopes of the teeming unemployed as it voted against a motion which sought to compel the Buhari administration to commence the immediate payment of the N5,000 monthly stipend promised during the APC presidential campaigns.
The advice to probe Jonathan was sequel to an additional prayer moved by Senator Babajide Christopher Omoworare to Senator Bassey Albert Akpan-sponsored motion on the ‘‘Urgent Need to Curb the Soaring Rate of Unemployment in Nigeria.’’
After the initial recommendations of the motion, Senator Philip Aduda raised an additional prayer, urging the Federal Government to fulfill one of its numerous campaign promises.
“ Federal Government should immediately commence the payment of the N5,000 monthly stipends it promised during the pre-election campaign,” Aduda moved.
While the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, rose and seconded the additional prayer, Omoworare raised the Senate Standing Order 53(6) to oppose it. This led to bickering between senators of the ruling APC and opposition PDP.
When Saraki gave Omoworare the privilege of raising another additional prayer, he said: “I want to move that the immediate past government be made to account for every penny spent on SURE-P and other poverty alleviation programmes, and I so move, Mr. President.”
When Saraki put the question to voice vote, the ayes response came from the APC senators, but the PDP senators kept mute to the nay call.