By Emman Ovuakporie and Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – THE Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara Thursday announced the Chairmen and Vice Chairmen of the 96 House Committees but the Ministry of the Niger Delta Affairs was yet to get its head.
In the composition of the new Committee heads, the Speaker’s key men clinched headship of juicy Committees such as Appropriation which is chaired by Abdulmunin Jibrin, Rima Shawulu Kwewum heads Army, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, Aviation, Zakari Mohammed, Basic Education, Chike Okafor, Healthcare Services and Aminu Shehu Shagari Federal Judiciary.
Also not left out were the core supporters of the House Leader, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila as they were also compensated with juicy committees such as Customs headed by James Faleke, and Rufa’i Chachangi as the Vice Chairman of the committee, Sani Zoro heads the newly created Internally Displaced Persons, IDP and Garba Muhammed as the committee chairman on Solid Minerals.
There was also a balance between the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as the ruling party APC, heads 48 Committees, PDP 45 while All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA and the Social Democratic Party, SDP got one chairmanship slot each.
In the composition, the South heads 46 Committees while the North heads 50.
The House also compensated the South East APC members who were completely sidelined in the composition of the principal officers in line with the spirit of federal character as the two members Chike Okafor and Austin Chukwukere were made chairman Healthcare Services and vice chairman Finance respectively.
Despite the lobbying and bickering among members to head juicy committee, only six members retained the position they headed in the 7th assembly.
Those who retained the headships of their previous committees are Jones Onyeriri, Banking and Currency, Nkeiruka Onyejiocha, Aviation, Nnenna Ukeje, Foreign Affairs, Mohammed Munguno, Agriculture, Shehu Shagari, Judiciary, Nicholas Mutu, NDDC, and Aminu Suleiman, Education.
It was also surprising that one of the key men of the Speaker like Rep. Nnanna Igbokwe was neither considered for chairmanship position nor vice chairman.
The new committees announced by the Speaker were Agricultural Colleges and Institutions chaired by Linus Okorie, Basic Education and Services, chaired byMuhammed Zakari, and Delegated Legislation which is headed by Simeon Arabo,
Others are FCT Judiciary, Laori Kwamoti, Health Institutions,Betty Apiafi, IDPs Refugees and Initiatives on North East, Headed by Sani Zoro Insurance and Actuarial Matters, Olufemi Fakeye, and Tertiary Education and Services which is chaired by Aminu Suleiman.
Because of the numerous institutions and parastatals in the health and education committees, the Speaker split them into two each for effective oversight.
Meanwhile, Dogara has insisted on state assemblies and local government areas having their autonomies even as he has told speakers of state assemblies not to be slaves to their state governors.
He also urged State Houses of Assembly in the country to support moves to grant financial autonomy to them and local governments.
Speaking when he received in audience members of the Bauchi state House of Assembly in his office, Dogara said democracy is facing serious threat at the grassroots as a result of lack of independence for the local governments.
According to him, “There is no meaning to independence of you are not financially independent. Slaves don’t build societies, only free men do.
“The only authority for oversight in the state is the state Assembly, but when we transmitted the proposal for amendment to the state assemblies they rejected it.”
The Speaker lamented that in a four years tenure, trillions of Naira were allocated to states and local governments but when you visit the state you wont see projects commensurate with the money they received.
He said, “I am not indicting you but speaking to your conscience, our feeling is that there has not been appropriate and effective oversight by the state legislatures.”
“I am calling on leaders to rise beyond our differences, unite and deliver dividend of democracy to the people. If we fail to perform, they will not spear us. We should do everything to deliver on our mandate”
The Speaker also expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for reposing so much confidence in the sons and daughters of Bauchi state by appointing them into key Federal government offices.
He said, the only way to reciprocate the gesture is for leaders in the state to deliver on their mandates to the people.
The state assembly members were led by the Speaker Hon. Kawuwa Shehu Damina, who commended Dogara for his sterling leadership qualities, and his exhibition of courage, simplicity, dedication, generosity, commitment and service per Excellenc