Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara after inauguration, yesterday. Photos: Olugbemiga Olamikan/
By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
ABUJA—Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, may have shunned entreaties from members of his party, the All Progressives Congress, to tinker with the list of committee heads which he released with a view to giving the ruling party a comfortable grip on the leadership of the lower House of parliament.
Competent sources close to a meeting of chairmen and their deputies called by Dogara on Tuesday, said the Speaker was adamant over calls by his party to review the list to accommodate more of their members and reduce the influence of the opposition PDP, whose members have been saddled with key committees, normally reserved for the leading party since 1999.
However, Dogara, who called the meeting, reportedly dashed the hope of the complaining APC members by telling them to take the list of committees he had already made public in good faith, as there was nothing more he could do about the matter.
A source at the meeting told our correspondent that the speaker made it clear to all that the committees were composed to reflect what he called ‘bi-partisan cohesion’ and national interest and was not ready to bend backwards.
According to sources at the meeting, which was held in camera, Dogara told his loyalists that he was not bothered by criticism about the way the committees were composed, as he did not believe any committee was better than the other.
Chides APC members
He also reportedly chided APC members who had rejected committees allotted to them, accusing them of not helping to advance the Change mantra of the present administration.
One of the sources, however, said that Dogara assured that he could only tamper with the headship of the committees after observing the performance of their chairmen for two years.
The source said: “Dogara made it plain to all of us that he was not going to back down on what has already been released to the public but pleaded with us to bear with him for now.”
Since the list was made public last month, many APC members in the House have denounced Dogara for giving more attention to the PDP in the composition of the committees and relegating the APC to the background, saying that the plan was ostensibly to empower the opposition and weaken the APC.
PDP power brokers
The list shows that power brokers in PDP who backed Dogara’s emergence clinched major committee posts while the party got 48 percent of the posts leaving the APC with barely 50 percent, something described by House members as unprecedented in the history of the parliament.
For instance, Hon. Jibrin Abdulmumini who was the spokesperson for Dogara’s ‘Consolidation Group’ during the tussle for his emergence, was named the chairman of the ‘powerful’ Committee on Appropriation.
Key members of Dogara’s group
Other key members of the Speaker’s group, who got strategic committees were: Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (Aviation), Hon. Nnenna Elendu Ukeje (Foreign Affairs), Hon. Kingsley Chinda (Public Accounts), Hon. Muktar Aliyu (Defence), Hon. Tobi Okechukwu (Works) Hon. Herman Hembe (FCT), Hon. Babangida Ibrahim (Finance) and Hon. Zakari Mohammed (Basic Education and Services).
Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas heads the committee on Media and Publicity, while Hon. Abdulsamad Dasuki chairs the committee on Navy.
Only a handful of the supporters of Dogara’s major challenger, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, clinched key committees.
There are: Hon. Akinlaja Joseph (Petroleum Resources- Downstream), Hon. James Faleke (Customs and Excise) and Hon. Saheed Fijabi (Telecommunications).
Hon. Sani Zorro becomes chairman of the newly-formed Committee on IDPs, Refugees and Initiatives in North-East.