Lawmakers in both chambers of the National Assembly have intensified lobby for the chairmanship of committees.
The lawmakers particularly want to be appointed by both Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila to chair key committees which are often termed 'juicy.'
There are 66 and 96 standing committees in both the Senate and the House. The two presiding officers are expected to reward their loyalists with majority of the committees.
Our correspondent gathered that Lawan and Gbajabiamila alongside their deputies, Ovie Omo-Agege and Ahmed Idris Wase, have since commenced the process of picking the chairmen and deputy chairmen of the various committees.
Unlike what obtained in 2015 when both ex-Senate President and ex-Speaker Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara delayed the setting up of standing committees of the two chambers till October and November, Daily Trust gathered that Lawan and Gbajabiamila will announce theirs in July, before the two chambers embark on their two-month annual recess.
This development made most of the lawmakers, who worked for the emergence of the two presiding officers to intensify their lobby, including going through individuals believed to be influential and have the ears of the duo.
Part of the lobby, it was learnt, include following the two presiding officers wherever they go so that they will always have them in mind.
In the past two weeks, Lawan has had an array of senators trooping to his office and forming part of his entourage that receive visitors, all as part of staying close to him, it was learnt.
Hundreds of members of the House of Reps were seen in Lagos with Gbajabiamila, who was being honoured by the state government for his victory as speaker.
Following their inauguration on June 11, members of the 9th Assembly embarked on a break to allow the management of the National Assembly allocate offices and seats to them. They are expected back at plenary on July 2.
The announcement of the composition of the various committees would be done soon after they reconvene, it was learnt.
Sources told Daily Trust Saturday that Lawan has already put in place the machinery for appointing chairmen and deputy chairmen of the standing committees.
Gbajabiamila had last week given an indication that the standing committees of the House would be announced soon when he inaugurated three ad-hoc committees, including the Selection Committee, saddled with the responsibility of picking the chairmen, deputy chairmen and members of all standing committees.
Gbajabiamila, who chairs the Selection Committee, said the three ad-hoc committees, including welfare and media and publicity, would conclude their tasks in one week, meaning the selection process for the committee chairmen of the House will be concluded this week.
Some of the juicy committees in both chambers include appropriation, finance, welfare (Senate/House) services, petroleum (upstream and downstream), power, works, housing, defence, army, navy, air force and education (basic and tertiary).
Others are interior, foreign affairs, procurement, maritime, pensions, housing, works, police affairs, FCT, customs and excise, justice, judiciary (federal and FCT), privatisation and commercialization, water resources, health, public accounts, agriculture, aids, loans and debts management, anti-corruption, Diaspora, commerce, climate change, among many others.
Our correspondent reports that the Senate President and the Speaker usually reward those that worked for their emergence with such committees.
The immediate past Senate President, Saraki and ex-speaker Dogara, both rewarded their loyalists, especially members of the PDP, with juicy committees. Dogara, for example, gave over 40 committees to the PDP, more than half of which were juicy.
It was gathered that Lawan and Gbajabiamila may face a herculean task allocating the committees due to the large number of supporters they have.
For example, Lawan had 79 senators who voted for him, while there are only 66 standing committees in the Senate. This suggests that some of those that voted for him may have to end up being appointed deputy chairmen of committees.
As for Gbajabiamila, 281 Reps voted for him, while there are just 96 standing committees in the House. This scenario means that even if the speaker decides to reward all his loyalists with the chairmanship and deputy chairmanship of committees, only 192 will get it while 89 may have to be settled in other ways.
Why the lobby?
Sources told our correspondent yesterday that lawmakers usually lobby for juicy committees in order to be able settle themselves financially, while others do that to be more influential and bring more projects to their constituencies.
"The normal practice is for every member to want to head a Grade A committee. There's always a reason for that: some see it as a way of getting money, but others see it differently, although they still get money along the line.
"For example, if you head a committee like works, there's likelihood of attracting a lot of projects to your consistency. You can also help your colleagues in the National Assembly to have projects taken to their constituencies.
"Again, someone that is appointed to head a committee like army, navy, air force, police or any of the security agencies will help a lot of people to get jobs into such agencies. But I must say that a lot of people see it as a way of getting money," a lawmaker said.
Another lawmaker said every legislator won election to the National Assembly for a particular purpose, and they use committees to achieve such purpose. Even the support they gave to the presiding officers, the source said, was because they wanted to be reckoned with in constituting committees.
Lawan had during his acceptance speech as senate president promised to lead a bipartisan senate where all senators would be treated equally, irrespective of political party affiliations.
On his part, Gbajabiamila said last week after meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that he would carry PDP members along in constituting committees of the House.
A few days to the inauguration of the 9th Assembly, the Director General of the Gbajabiamila Campaign Council, Abdulmumin Jibrin, said they would cede 60 committees' chairmanship and deputy chairmanship to the PDP. But Jibrin did not state the composition of the 60 slot allocation.
A senator of the ruling APC told Daily Trust in Abuja that PDP senators would be given committee chairmanship as they are also legislators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
"Nigeria is not yet there. We can't say that APC senators will take everything in terms of committee chairmanship, no. We're not yet there. No matter what, PDP senators will head committees," the senator, who did not want to be named, said.
Meanwhile, Daily Trust gathered that although there are core Gbajabiamila loyalists that have been with him since 2015 and worked tirelessly for his emergence, those that joined the campaign later seemed to have hijacked the process of appointing committee chairmanship.
A lawmaker familiar with the happenings around the House told Daily Trust that those who have hijacked the process came with a lot of money to the campaign, hence they are the ones calling the shots on those to be appointed as committee chairmen.
Such members, it was gathered, cut across both the APC and PDP, and were the ones that called the shots during Dogara's reign, and they want to continue calling the shots.
"There were people that were denied even ad-hoc committee chairmanship during Dogara's time because of their loyalty to the current speaker. Sadly, there were those that were core Dogara loyalists who were initially in another camp but only joined Gbajabiamila's camp a few days to the inauguration, they're the ones being considered now.
"Some of them occupied very powerful committees under Dogara. As a matter of fact, they were against Gbajabiamila at the beginning of this campaign. They only joined his team a few days or weeks to the inauguration. But because they contributed a lot of money to the campaign, they're likely to go with powerful committees once again," the lawmaker said.
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