The fragile peace existing in the House of Representatives may soon be shattered if the disquiet that has trailed the composition and appointments of chairpersons of House committees by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, is anything to go by.
The lawmakers of the majority All Progressives Congress, who complained that the composition of the committees favoured the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are reportedly set for a showdown over what they perceive to be the empowerment of the latter with ‘juicy’ committees.
They also said the development, which saw PDP lawmakers appointed to some key committees, including works, petroleum resources, aviation, army etc., could sabotage the “change mantra” of President Muhammadu Buhari.
This feeling was captured in a letter written by the House leader, Femi Gbajabiamila to the Speaker, in which he accused Mr. Dogara of undermining him and other principal officers, who he said were not consulted ahead of the appointments.
Towards this end, it was learnt that APC members dissatisfied with their appointments, may plan a mass resignation in protest. Already, two members of the House, Mohammed Datti Garba and Sunday Adepoju had resigned their committee positions.
The letters of others, who allegedly resigned, were yet to be read on the floor of the House.
Gbajabiamila’s letter, dated October 20 reads: “You would recall that I have on several occasions in the last four weeks, met with you both at home and in your office to get an understanding and appreciation of what was going on with the composition and appointment of chairmen and deputy chairmen of House Committees.
“I did this because of the incessant rumour that same had been composed. On each occasion, you assured me that nothing had been done. From all indications however, it appears that an announcement of chairmen and deputy chairmen is imminent and such may be done this week.
“I acknowledge your right and prerogative to determine the leadership of the House committees and I intend to work with you after such determination has been made.
“I intend and have stated on many occasions privately and publicly to work with you for the progress of the House.
“However, I am constrained at this point to ask that due consideration is given to the provisions of our House Rules. Order 7 Rule 10, paragraph (a) of the House rules which states that ‘the Speaker shall in consultation with principal officers, appoint the chairmen and deputy chairmen from among the members on the committees.’
“On the role of the Majority/House Leader: Order 7 Rule 27 (2) says that the Leader of the House shall ‘liase with Committee Chairmen and other functionaries of the House
“In the light of the foregoing provisions of our House rules and in line with parliamentary tradition the world over, undermining the office of the Leader or any other principal officer will not strengthen the legislature or our democracy.
“The situation where any principal officer whether from the majority or minority party only knows of the appointment referred above upon announcement on the floor will not augur well for the progress of this House.
“I have taken the liberty to write you on this matter for record purposes and in the hope that every principal office in this House would be given its due as enshrined in our House Rules”.