Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Breaking News: Tension, As Saraki Names c’ttee Heads, Deputies

Ahead of the unveiling of names of chairmen and vice-chairmen of standing committees by Senate President, Bukola Saraki, tension has gripped the lawmakers over who heads the juicy committees.

According to a source, ranking senators across party lines have vowed to resist any move to give them committees that are seen not to be powerful.

At press time last night, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, senators were said to be meeting at the residence of former Senate President, Senator David Mark, over the issue.

It was gathered, yesterday, that those who had been fighting Saraki have vowed to continue with the fight, using the standing committees as a reason.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the Senate were, yesterday night, putting finishing touches to the list.


List to be unveiled tomorrow if…

Barring any last-minute change, the Senate President will unveil the list tomorrow.

Asked in a text message if the list was ready, a principal officer replied: “No, we may finish the final touches tonight (yesterday).

The source said that the composition of the committees will help calm frayed nerves generated by the confirmation of former Rivers State Governor, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, last Thursday.

PDP senators staged a walk-out from the plenary on Thursday during the confirmation of Amaechi following the All Progressives Congress, APC, senators’ decision to ignore their PDP colleagues.

According to a source, as part of moves to ensure stability in the Senate, Saraki has increased the standing committees by eight, thereby moving it from 57 to 64.

With this development, the Senate will be toeing the line of the House of Representatives which recently increased the number of its standing committees from 89 to 95.

Vanguard gathered that Saraki’s inner caucus had agreed that for the Senate President to enjoy a stable reign, he must find ways to accommodate more senators as committee chairmen.

A source told Vanguard that the Senate leadership, which had been working on the committee composition since August would round off, yesterday night, having agreed to increase the number of committees to 64.

The source said that the Senate Selection Committee, made up of the Principal Officers, decided to increase the number of the standing committees to ensure stability in the 8th Senate.

It was gathered that ranking senators have said that the 8th Senate might continue to witness turbulence following the emergence of the Senate Unity Forum, SUF, led by Senator Ahmed Lawan and Like Minds, headed by Senate President Saraki.

Regional spread

It was also gathered that the amended Senate Standing Rules 2015 prescribes equal committee chairmanship positions for each of the six geo-political zones of the country.

This provision as contained in Section 3(iv) of the 2015 Senate Standing Orders, does not exist in 2011 edition used during the Seventh Senate.
The implication of this is that the zones controlled by the PDP will chair almost the same number of committees with those controlled by the ruling APC.

The section reads: “The appointment of senators as chairmen and members of committees shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the six geo-political zones of the country and there shall be no predominance of senators from a few geo-political zones.”

This development is a deviation from the hitherto existing tradition in the Senate in which chairmanships of two committees – Public Accounts and Ethics and Privileges – were the only two committees reserved for the opposition.