Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the Ninth Senate will resume plenary today, Tuesday, July 2, 2019 with the constitution of special committees top on its agenda.
The Senate leadership is also expected to set machinery in place for the release of its Legislative Agenda – a policy document that contains the direction of the lawmaking body.
The Senate had adjourned on June 13 after its first sitting and constituted an ad hoc committee to look into the issue of office and seats allocation to senators.
Already, lawmakers are lobbying the Senate leadership for juicy committees, even as pressure is mounting on Senate President Ahmad Lawan to sack the aides of his predecessor, Bukola Saraki, that he retained.
Some of the juicy committees senators are scrambling for include those on Appropriation; Finance; Petroleum (Down and Upstream); Senate Services; Education; Niger Delta; Agriculture; Interior; Anti-Corruption; Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions; INEC; Niger Delta; Defence; Army; Communications; Works; Land Transport and Marine Transport.
Others are Gas Resources; Public Accounts; Tertiary Education and TETFUND; Aviation; Public Accounts; Rules and Business; Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters; Federal Capital Territory; Local and Foreign Debts; Police Affairs; Solid Minerals; Water Resources; Environment and Ecology; Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy, and Primary Health Care.
Findings by BusinessDay also revealed that pressure is being mounted on the embattled aides to either follow the footstep of Olu Onemola, who was also retained by Lawan but rejected the appointment, or get sacked.
Order 96 of the Senate Standing Rule 2015 (as amended) provides that within the first 14 legislative days following the first sitting of the Senate, membership of special committees must be appointed.
It listed the committees to include those on Selection; Rules and Business; Senate Services; Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions; Public Accounts, as well as National Security and Intelligence.
Lawan is also expected to announce the names of principal officers of the Ninth Senate, as submitted by the party caucuses of both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP). This would form the Body of Principal Officers also known as Selection Committee, whose responsibility is to assign senators to committees based on interest shown by individual senators.
There are a total of eight principal officers’ positions to be filled, comprising four seats each for both majority and minority positions.
The Senate PDP Caucus had at a closed door meeting with the PDP National Working Committee in Abuja a fortnight ago resolved to pick Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia State) as Senate Minority Leader and Emmanuel Bwacha (Taraba) as his deputy.
Also picked were Phillip Aduda (Federal Capital Territory) as Minority Whip and Clifford Odia (Edo Central) as his deputy. However, last week, the PDP rejigged its minority positions in the upper legislative chamber and replaced Odia with Sahabi Yau (Zamfara State).
Similarly, the APC was said to have named a former governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Adamu, as Senate Majority Leader, with Ajayi Boroffice (Ondo) as the next Deputy Senate Majority Leader. Also, a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, is billed to be the next Chief Whip, while the director general of Lawan’s Campaign Group, Yahaya Abdullahi (Kebbi State), had been slated to deputise Kalu.
The ad hoc committees are expected to drive the legislative business of the Senate pending the setting up of standing committees.
OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja