The inauguration of the 9th National Assembly on June 11, 2019 did not take anybody by surprise. But, the composition of the various committees by the two leaders of the National Assembly caught many Senators and members of House of Representatives aghast.
Though the reconstitution has doused tensions and calmed frayed nerves in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP depending on the role the members played in the emergence of the leaderships, some ranking members in the house particularly in the opposition party are still in shock as their names are conspicuously missing as chairmen and deputy chairmen of different juicy and less juicy committees.
Of the 69 committees inaugurated by Senator Ahmed Lawan, the Senate President, ruling APC got the largest chunk while PDP got paltry slots.
Of the 69 committee chairmen, 49 are members of the APC while 20 are members of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The only member of the Young Progressives Party, Ifeanyi Ubah, was only made the Vice Chairman of the Senate committee on Petroleum (Upstream).
According to geo-political zones, the North West has the highest appointments of 16, South West with 13 and North East with 11.
The South South and North Central is next with 10 slots and South East is the lowest with nine slots.
From the time of former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, all members of the Upper Chamber are appointed either as chairman or vice chairman of different committees including the principal officers.
Other Senate Presidents like Ken Nnamani, David Mark and Bukola Saraki who followed, maintained the same tradition.
Mr. Lawan also successfully integrated all members of the Upper Chamber into different committees either as chairmen or vice chairmen.
This includes all the principal officers who were all made vice chairmen of different committees.
They are; Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi – Rules and Business; Deputy Senate Leader, Ajayi Borroffice – Science and Technology; Chief Whip, Orji Kalu – Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institution and Deputy Chief Whip, Sabi Abdullahi was appointed Vice Chairman of committees on Legislative Compliance and Local Content.
Others are Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe – Power; Deputy Minority Leader, Emmanuel Bwacha – Works; Minority Whip, Philip Aduda – Petroleum downstream and Deputy Minority Whip, Sahabi Ya’u – INEC.
Akwa Ibom Standing In the National Assembly
The three Senators from Akwa Ibom caucus are PDP members. Of the number, only Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, representing Akwa North East Senatorial district is the chairman of Petroleum (upstream), which is a juicy committee. Senator Chris Ekpenyong representing Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial district is the deputy Chairman of Water Resources committee while Senator Akon Eyakenyi representing Akwa Ibom South is the Deputy Chiarman of State Basic Universal Education committee.
The House of Representatives has 109 standing committees. Of the number, APC picked the lion’s share. A total of 81 APC members are chairmen of various committees while 21 PDP members are committee’ chairmen and 30 are Deputy Chairmen.
Traditionally, Akwa Ibom is a PDP-controlled state. From Akwa Ibom front, Onofiok Luke, a first timer representing Etinan/Nsit Ibom/Nsit Ubium Constituency, is the Chairman of Federal Judiciary while Michael Enyong, a ranking member representing Nsit Atai/Uruan/Uyo constituency, is the Chairman of Solid Minerals Committee. Yet, two first timers in the Green chamber from the state, emerged as deputy chairmen of two committees. They are Emmanuel Ukpong Udo representing Ikono/Ini constituency who was appointed Deputy Chairman of Interior Committee and Unyime Idem representing Ukanafun/Oruk Anam Constituency is the Deputy Chairman of Communication committee.
Other first timers who join the rank of committees as members are Aniekan Umanah representing Abak/Etim Ekpo/Ika, Patrick Ifon representing Eket/Onna/Esit Eket/Ibeno, Nsikak Ekong representing Ikot Ekpene/Essien Udim/Obot Akara federal constituency.
However, some ranking members in the House- Dr. Henry Archibong representing Itu/Ibiono Ibom Federal constituency, Nse Ekpenyong representing Oron/Okobo/Mbo/Udung Uko/Urue Offong-Oruko and Charles Uduyor Francis speaking for Ikot Abasi/Mkpat Enin/Eastern Obolo constituency are left in the lurch.
With the headship of both strategic and non-strategic committees in the National Assembly by a few Akwa Ibom persons, where lies their hope in pulling enough strings to impact on the state development? Apart from Senator Akpan who heads what appears as a juicy committee, Senator Eyakenyi and Rep Idem equally deputise what are seen as juicy ones, while other committees deputised by the Akwa Ibom representatives in the Red and Green chambers are less juicy. Was it caused by the party they are representing in the NASS or their passive role in the emergence of the two leaders of the duo chambers?