There is intrigue and underhand dealing in the Senate and House of Representatives over the composition of the standing committees in both chambers of the National Assembly.
LEADERSHIP Friday gathered that senators and House members are unsure of their fate as the process of allocating them into various steering committees of the two chambers has been hijacked by the Presidency, with desperate ones among them reportedly parting with huge bribes to be allocated juicy committees.
A powerful aide to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is reported to have hijacked the process from the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas.
Consequently, senators and members of the House have shunned Akpabio and Abbas in desperation to realise their ambition of presiding over ‘juicy’ committees.
They have now resorted to lobbying the presidential aide, who holds the ace in the scheme of things, in the National Assembly.
The presidential aide is reported to have sidelined the Senate president and speaker of the House in the selection of federal lawmakers as committee chairmen.
LEADERSHIP Friday learnt that uncertainty has enveloped the fate of the federal lawmakers less than a week to the unveiling of the chairmen and deputy chairmen of the various committees of the National Assembly.
The leadership of the committees are expected to be made public on July 27, ahead of the recess by both chambers.
LEADERSHIP Friday gathered that the presidential aide was putting finishing touches to the lists of the committee chairmen and their deputies in both chambers, as at Friday.
The aide, who at a time was a presiding officer of one of the chambers of the National Assembly, is expected to hand over the “approved and final lists” of the committee chairmen to Akpabio and Abbas, ahead of June 27th.
One of our sources in the National Assembly, who confided in this newspaper, said Akpabio and Abbas’ role would be merely to announce the names of lawmakers already pencilled in by the Presidency as chairmen and deputies of the various committees at plenary on July 27.
Another source in the National Assembly told this newspaper that most senators and House members, who “no longer consider Akpabio and Abbas relevant and important in the scheme of things” preferred to reach out to the presidential aide and his cronies to seal their fate.
The influential aide is said to be facing unyielding pressures from desperate lawmakers and their promoters.
This development, LEADERSHIP Friday’s reliable sources hinted, has compelled the aide to replace some of his security and personal staff, who hitherto served as purveyors of communication, which made him vulnerable and accessible to lobbyists.
To this end, senators and House members from Lagos State, President Tinubu’s base, have emerged as new power brokers in the National Assembly in the emerging spectacle.
LEADERSHIP Friday further gathered that Lagos lawmakers are not only confident of securing the leadership of choice and lucrative committees, they also serve as conduits and contact points to access the powerful presidential aide by their colleagues.
Meanwhile, it was also learnt from one of our sources that juicy committees are being sold to willing members of the National Assembly.
The source revealed to LEADERSHIP Friday that some members coughed out as much as N1 billion to secure the chairmanship of a juicy committee, and that the names of some members, who have paid the whooping sum, have been pencilled against their preferred committees.
Further enquiries revealed that some government agencies are funding the allocation of high-ranking committees to preferred members of the National Assembly in order to engender mutual understanding ahead of the inauguration of such committees and performance of their oversight functions.
Some highly connected senators and House members are behind the racket.