Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday unveiled the list of chairmen and vice chairmen of 65 standing committees. In an apparent move to further consolidate his grip on the Senate, Saraki might have walked through the labyrinthine intrigues plaguing the upper chamber of the national Assembly to come up with names which received a minority opposition from former Senate President, David Mark.
Saraki had earlier set up a total of five special committees including, Rules and Business with Senator Babjjide Omoworare as Chairman, Senate Services with Senator Ibrahim Gobir as Chairman, and Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions with Senator Samuel Anyanwu as Chairman.
The Public Accounts Committee has Senator Andy Uba as Chairman while Senator Shaaba Lafiagi heads the National Security and Intelligence Committee.
Given what is considered the volatile nature of leadership of the committees, a cautious Saraki had before unveiling the list, embarked on a subtle campaign, pleading with his colleagues to work together even as he warned that that the strength of their oversight functions will contribute immensely to the success of the present administration in the course of the next four years.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Senators had earlier resolved to push for adherence to Rule 3(2.iv) of the Senate Standings Orders 2015 as amended which emphasizes the nation’s geo-political spread in allocation of committees.
According to the provision, “the appointment of Senators as Chairmen and members of committees shall be carried out in such a manner to reflect the six geo-political zones of the country and there shall be no predominance of Senators from a few geo-political zones”
A breakdown of the list shows that the North-Central has 13 chairmen of committees including Saraki who also chairs the Committee on Selection, the North-East has 11 chairmen of committees, North-West and South-West have 11 each while South-East and South-South has 10 chairmen each.
There are 41 committees being chaired by Senators from the majority All Progressives Congress (APC) while the PDP has 24 Senators chairing various committees. Some of the PDP Senators also chair some of the so-called juicy which include the Public Accounts Committee with Andy Uba as Chairman, Duro Samuel Faseyi (Public Accounts), Uche Ekwunife (Air Force), John Owan Enoh (Finance), George Sekibo (Interior), Ben Murray Bruce (Privatization), and Olaka Johnson Nwogu (Environment), among others.
Some of the new and non-ranking Senators also got chairmanship and vice chairmanship positions of committees while others will serve in some other committees in line with section 95 (1) which stipulates that membership of all committees shall not be less than nine and not more than 13 Senators with a Senator not serving in more than three committees and no committee chairman shall serve in more than two other committees.
On the whole, the list reflects 68 per cent for the APC and 49 percent for the PDP while members of the Unity Group believed to be anti-Saraki head some of the committees with Senator Ahmed Lawan in Defence, Senator George Akume (Army), Adamu Abdullahi (Agriculture), Barnabas Gemade ( Housing), Oluremi Tinubu (Women Affairs), Olugbenga Ashafa (Land Transport), Bayero Nafada (Inter- Parliamentary Affairs), Abu Ibrahim (Police Affairs), Kabir Marafa, (National Identity and National Population), Rabiu Kwankaso (National Planning and Economic Affairs), among others.
It is believed that Saraki increased the number of committees from 57 to 65 to accommodate his loyalists and those who fought him. Some of them were compensated with chairmanship positions like the former governor of Gombe State, Senator Danjuma Goje, who got the chairmanship position of the Appropriation Committee, Dino Melaye (FCT), Shaaba Lafiagi (National Security and intelligence), Andy Uba (Public Accounts) and Rafiu Adebayo (Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions), among others.
Prior to the emergence of Saraki as President of the Senate on June 9, two groups had emerged, one was Senators of Like Minds which was pro-Saraki and the other group and the pro-Ahmed Lawan group, Senators Unity Forum (SUF). Lawan had showed interest in the position of Senate President and he was the candidate of the APC.
In what appears to be a move to assuage his perceived opponents, the Ahmed Lawan group got 13 chairmanship positions including those of Defence, Police Affairs, National Planning, Housing and Women Affairs.
Chairmen of the committees are, Matthew Uroghide (Culture and Tourism), Sam Egwu (Industry), David Umaru (Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters), Salihu Hussein Egye (Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs), Lanre Tejousho (Health), Abubakar Kyari (INEC), Bayero Usman Nafada (Inter- Parliamentary Affairs), Shehu Sani (Local and Foreign Debts), Isiaka Adeleke (Capital Market), Rose Oko ( Diaspora and Civil Societies),
Buka Abba Ibrahim (Ecology and Climate Change), Munsurat Sunmonu (Foreign Affairs), Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (Media and Public Affairs), Buhari Abdulfatai (ICT and Cybercrime), Abdulsalami Ohiare (Public Procurement), Mao Ohuabunwa (Primary Health Care and Communicable Diseases), Joshua Dariye (Solid Minerals), Murtala Nyako (Special Duties), Abdullahi Gumel (States and Local Governments), Obinna Joseph Ogba (Health), Binta Masi Garba (Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND), Donald Omotayo Alaosaodura (Upstream Petroleum), Mohammed Ubali Shittu (Water Resources) and Ali Wakili (Poverty Alleviation and Social Welfare).
Senators Hope Uzodinma, Gibert Nnaji and Robert Ajayi Boroffice retained the chairmanship positions of Aviation, Communications and Science and Technology respectively which they occupied during the 7th Senate.
Apparently due to the provision of Section 95 (4) which stipulates that no member of the Committee of Selection shall be a Committee Chairman, principal officers got vice chairmanship positions. They are, Bala Ibn Na’allah, Vice Chairman, Committee on Ethics and Privileges and Aviation, Francis Alimikhena is Vice Chairman, Housing, Godswill Akpbabio, Vice Chairman, Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Emmanuel Bwacha is Vice Chairman, Committee on Water Resources, Philip Aduda, Vice Chairman, Land Transport and Olusola Adeyeye, Vice Chairman, Primary Health Care and Communicable Diseases.
Wirth Lawan, Kwakwanso, Oluremi Tinubu, Abu Ibrahim, Abdulahi Adamu, Gbenga Ashafa, Kabiru Marafa, Shehu Sani, heading various committees, and Senators Mustapha Bukar; Umaru ibrahim Kurfi, Suleiman Hunkuyi (APC, Kaduna North) , among others, as vice Chairmen of some of the committees, is it likely that the Unity Group will now bury the hatchet and settle down for real legislative business? The conduct and proceedings on the floor of the Senate.