One of the identified problems of investigative hearings and oversight of the executive arm is the multiplicity of committees with overlapping jurisdiction on the same subject matter. This has led to a situation where more than one committee is handling the same subject matter. Invitations are sent to the same officials of government by different committees on the same subject,” says Yakubu Dogara, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, while presenting the 8th House legislative agenda.
Dogara has reversed this statement and has gone ahead to increase the committees in the House of Rep from 84 to 95.
In other words, the Dogara- led House has told Nigerians that their clamour for the government to curb corruption and slash the cost of governance will continue to be a pipe dream. And they are also letting us know in very clear terms that as far as the overpaid national assembly members are concerned, it is all about sharing the booty.
This is coming as several ranking lawmakers of the 360-strong member chamber intensify lobbying for the headship of “Grade A” committees or what are otherwise considered “plum” committees.
Increasing the number of committees from 84 to 95, the House now has a rise in total allocation to the various committees.
Does it really make any sense splitting the committee on education into three – primary, secondary and tertiary education- and that on agriculture divided into two – mechanised and rudimentary agriculture?
I think this is simply the speaker compensating his supporters at the expense of the nation.
One question we should ask Mr Dogara is if it is not the same House of Representatives that had 20 committees under former Speaker, Umar Ghali Na’abba in 1999.
The United States is bigger than Nigeria in size and population and has a larger House of Representatives with 435 members, and it currently has 21 congressional committees, 20 of which are standing committees and one select committee.
Increasing the number of House Committees from 84 to 95 in the face of a dwindling revenue and their talks about ‘the need to cut cost of governance’ is hypocrisy of the highest order. The sad thing is that these guys are not doing anything for us. How it is that no member of the National Assembly has been recalled by his constituency beats me. What can 95 committees do that 20 can’t? How many members constitute a committee? Are we going to have one person in several committees?
Well, I guess yes, and no wonder they have been scrambling for “plum committees”. Plum? Isn’t that a word for milking the treasury? Are we supposed to have anything ‘plum’ in the House? With the amount of committees, then every member will definitely be a chairman of one committee or the other.
The entire business of legislation should be made a part-time thing and members paid only for the times they actually sit and engage in legislative business. This will save cost of running the National Assembly and make sense in the noise about reducing the cost of governance.
Meanwhile, another troubling story in the news is that of the Taraba State governor approving the appointment of 50 special advisers and 62 senior special assistants, totalling 112 aides, who shall be advising him in the Government House. How difficult is governing a state like Taraba that the governors need 112 advisers?
We must stop our so-called politicians from this madness. If a governor needs 112 advisers to run his government, why electing him at all? We need to be conducting psychological tests on our political office seekers.
They have fashioned another way to milk the nation. This is corruption at another level, if they cannot cut down the cost of running the government in a dire time like this, then they should stop singing about fighting corruption because they are even more corrupt than the people they accuse of corruption.
Etcetera is a columnist for The Punch
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.