The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Monday, inaugurated the 96 special and standing committees of the Nigerian lower legislative body.
However, the inauguration ceremony confirmed the leadership crisis in the House was still far from over.
The Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, who had accused Mr. Dogara of undermining the offices of the principal officers in the process of constituting the committees, led his loyalists in the ruling All Progressives Congress to boycott the ceremony.
APC legislators have complained that the nature of the composition of the committees favoured the opposition of Peoples Democratic Party and that it was capable of “sabotaging the change mantra” of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Of the 96 committees, while APC got 48 committees, PDP clinched 46, including some of the relatively sensitive ones like committees on Petroleum (downstream and upstream), Gas, Aviation, Army, Works and Foreign Affairs.
Social Democratic Party and All Progressives Grand Alliance also got one committee chairmanship seat each.
At the inauguration, the Senate President and Chairman of the National Assembly, Bukola Saraki, said both chambers of the legislative body were committed to legislations that would better Nigeria and support the change agenda of Mr. Buhari.
He sought support for the 8th Assembly.
Mr. Dogara defended the number of the committees which Nigerians have criticised as oversized.
“Some commentators have decried the large number of Committees as being unwieldy and non-cost effective,” Mr. Dogara said.
“This criticism, even though, apparently well intentioned, misses the point. Experience gained from the operation of Committees since 1999, shows that some ministries’ functions and mandates are very wide indeed and cannot be effectively supervised and overseen by a single Committee.
“For instance, the House split the Committee on Education into two, namely: Basic Education and Services and Tertiary Education and Services. The old Committee on Education had a mandate to oversight the budget and policy issues of the following institutions:
“Unity Schools, 22 No. Federal Colleges of Education, 36 No. Federal Universities and 24 No. Federal Polytechnics.”
“There is no way a single Committee can adequately oversight all these agencies with House members also attending to other issues in Plenary Sessions, like lawmaking and other representational responsibilities,” he said.