Contrary to rebuttals from the camp of Speaker Yakubu Dogara that he did not act unilaterally in appointing chairmen of the standing committees, the Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has confirmed that he was not consulted in the selection of chairmen announced last Thursday.
The Speaker’s camp had said all principal officers of the House were carried along in the selection, to ensure that all interests are taken care of.
A source close to the Speaker had told THISDAY that the meeting which held before plenary Thursday morning, was for the selection among the principal officers.
Gbajabiamila in a message however, explained that he saw the final list at the meeting.
“The list speaks for itself. I saw it for the first time at 10a.m., a couple of hours before the announcement was made. This falls short of the consultation with Principal Officers required and mandated by our House rules,” he said.
Last week, THISDAY had reported that the House Leader was not being carried along in the exercise as the Speaker was working only with his inner caucus on the list.
Statutorily, the Speaker has the final say on the selection of chairmen and deputies of standing committee, it was however expected to be done in consultation with principal officers to ensure that all interests are accommodated.
This exercise was particularly being watched with keen interest, as it was expected to finally douse the tension that lingered between the Consolidation group and the Loyalists group following the crises that rocked the lower chambers and divided the members over appointment of principal officers.
The appointment of the chairmen however seems to have revived the division in the House as several members of the loyalist group feel short-changed despite assurances that the exercise would be fair to all.
Just one out of the eight committees clinched by members of the group is regarded as Grade A, with Hon. James Faleke (Lagos APC) as chairman of Customs and Excise Committee.
A member of the group however noted that since Faleke is expected to leave the House if he wins the Deputy Governorship of Kogi State in the upcoming polls, it could therefore mean none of the loyalist group secured the chairmanship of a Grade A committee.
“The speaker gave us the low graded committees like civil societies, anti-corruption, aids and loans, financial crimes, insurance, treaties, protocols and agreements. Are those serious committees? Only Sani Zorro got something fair, the newly formed committee on IDPs, and maybe because he has been the face of the House,” the lawmaker said.
A lawmaker close to the Speaker had told THISDAY that last Thursday meeting of principal officers which delayed plenary until past noon, was for all the officers to select the chairmen together.
The meeting had the majority leader, Gbajabiamila, in attendance.
THISDAY however gathered that at the meeting, the Speaker presented the already concluded list to the principal officers.
A source however said it was cheap blackmail to say the principal officers, including Gbajabiamila, were privy to the list
“The meeting called was not for the principal officers to determine who gets what, no matter how small, but to present the principal officers most especially to Gbajabiamila, an already prepared committee list. They were merely asked to raise objection to any name they do not want on the list, but it is not possible for the leader or anyone to say remove this person, and replace with another person.”
“The essence of the so-called principal officers meeting last Thursday before the announcement in the evening was just to use their attendance particularly that of the House leader to lend credence to “an already prepared list by the Speaker and his inner caucus. Even Gbajabiamila’s people who were given committees, he was not consulted, if he was, he would have objected,” the source said.