THE SUN-——The cold war between the Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara and the Majority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has assumed a worrisome dimension. There are strong indications that the Lower Legislative Chamber may be heading for a fresh crisis when lawmakers resume tomorrow. It is a fallout of last week’s composition of chairmanships of the 96 standing committees by the Speaker.
Dogara had last Thursday announced the composition of 96 standing committees. He had also announced the chairmanships of the various committees, with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) getting 48, while the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) secured 45. The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) got two and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) secured one.
Although some political observers have hailed the Speaker’s move, lawmakers loyal to Gbajabiamila who equally contested for the position of the Speaker in June are not ready to accept the alleged lopsided composition of the various standing committees. Similarly, members who played critical roles in the emergence of Dogara are dissatisfied with the way he allotted the 96 committees.
Moreso, APC lawmakers have maintained that though the party got 48 slots as against PDP’s 45, the latter appeared to have got more ‘juicy’ portfolios.
While Gbajabiamila’s Loyalists Group allegedly got 21 chairmen, Dogara’s supporters secured a mouth-watering 75. Similarly, only 29 Gbajabiamila’s loyalists were appointed deputy chairmen. On the other hand, Dogara’s squad got 67 deputy chairmen.
One of the aggrieved members from the ruling APC wondered why the Speaker will sacrifice the interest of the party to please members of his former party. The member who did not want to be named, told Daily Sun that they were willing to take the matter to the national leadership of the party.
But the Speaker’s camp has denied the allegation that Gbajabiamila was not ‘carried along’. Showing proof to back up its claims, it said Dogara appointed 50 loyalists of the House Leader as chairmen and deputy chairmen of various standing committees.
Dogara’s Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Mr. Turaki Hassan, while making the clarification, showed that the appointment of chairmen and deputy chairmen of the 96 committees was jointly done by the leadership of the House, including all the principal officers.
According to a letter of invitation sent to all the principal officers dated October 21, 2015 and signed by the Chief of Staff to the Speaker, Jerry Manwe, principal officers were to consult on appointment of committee chairmen on Thursday, October 22, 2015, which was incidentally the same day the list was unveiled.
Gbajabiamila was said to have attended the meeting before proceeding to the day’s plenary, where the composition of the committees and their leaders were announced.
However, the House Leader’s office has refuted such claims. A senior aide to Gbajabiamila who spoke to our correspondent, but pleaded not to be named, said the meeting which preceded the announcement of the House committees was a mere formality.
He noted that the Speaker’s camp had already taken a position before calling for a meeting of principal officers. He alleged that the House Leader was only informed at the last minute in order to paint a wrong picture that he had been put on notice.