How Gbajabiamila compensated ex-rivals for Speaker’s chair with committees

Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila

Most of the speakership aspirants in the Ninth House of Representatives have been made either principal officers or chairmen of standing committees, The PUNCH has observed.

Some of them were appointed into special committees.

About 20 members of the House had nursed the ambition to become speaker, most of whom eventually stepped down for the then majority leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, who is now the Speaker.

Fifteen of them have been given various appointments under the new leadership.

The presiding officers of the House emerged on June 11 when the National Assembly was inaugurated.

Gbajabiamila was elected Speaker while Idris Wase, who was the deputy majority leader in the Eighth House, emerged the deputy speaker.

The PUNCH learnt that no fewer than 15 of those who were in the speakership race benefited from the appointments.

Speakership aspirants, who are now part of the leadership of the House, include Idris Wase, the deputy speaker, and Alhassan Ado-Doguwa the majority leader.

The caucus also named Mohammed Monguno (APC, Borno) as the chief whip and Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (APC, Abia) as deputy majority whip.

Rep. Umar Bago

Those who got committee appointments include Mohammed Bago, who was the only aspirant that contested against Gbajabimila but lost by 76 to 281  votes.

He is now chairman, Committee on Co-Operation and Integration in Africa.

John Dyegh, who stepped down for Gbajabiamila on the eve of the speakership election, emerged as chairman, House Committee on Human Rights.

Other speakership aspirants appointed chairmen of committees are Muktar Betara (Borno), Committee on Appropriations; Khadijat Bukar-Ibrahim (Yobe), Committee on North-East Development Commission; Abdulrazak Namdas (Adamawa), Committee on Army; Aminu Suleiman (Kano), Tertiary Education; Babangida Ibrahim (Kano), Committee on Capital Market and Institutions; Olusegun Odebunmi (Oyo), Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values; and Gudaji Kazaure (Jigawa), Committee on Political Parties Matters.

Also on the list are Yakub Buba (Adamawa), Committee on Foreign Affairs; Abubakar Lado (Niger), Committee on Information and Communication Technology.

Our correspondent, however, learnt that aspirants such as Abdulrahman Sumaila (Kano) and Olajide Olatunbosun (Oyo) were missing on the appointment list.

Speaking with our correspondent, the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Benjamin Kalu, noted that the House created more committees to accommodate more members in leadership positions, including speakership aspirants.

Kalu said, “There are 109 standing committees in the House and 360 members. Because it is impossible for every one of 360 members to get chairmanship of a committee, the position of deputy was also factored in to compensate some legislators. In fact, many members opted out of chairmanship positions to accept deputy chairmanship of certain committees overseeing major ministries, reason being that the deputy chairman of certain committees is stronger than the chairman.

“It is also incorrect to suggest that speakership aspirants did not get any appointment or leadership positions in this House. Hon. Bago is chairman of House Committee on Co-operation and Integration in Africa. Hon. Onyejiocha is a principal officer. Hon. Buba is chairman of House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Hon. Betara is chairman of Appropriations Committee.”

For chairmanship of committees, the ruling and majority All Progressives Congress got 80; Peoples Democratic Party, 21; All Progressives Grand Alliance, 2; Allied Peoples Movement, 1; and Action Alliance, 1.

For the 104 vice-chairmanship positions, APC got 63; PDP, 30; APGA, 3; ADC, 3; PRP, 2; SDP, 1; ADP, 1; and AA, 1.



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