…As New Standing Rule Stipulates Equality Among Geo-Political Zones
By Sadiq Umar, Abuja.
Crisis over the controversial amended senate standing rules , may be not be over yet following fresh revelation on Monday that both All Progressive Congress(APC) and Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) senators may now have equal chairmanship slots on standing committees of the senate.
The latest discovery which is already generating tension is believed to be part of the deals struck by “stakeholders” that ironed out the APC-PDP pre-inauguration understanding that gave birth to the Saraki-Ekweremadu leadership of the senate.
“It is part of what they have done to mortgage the gains of APC in the senate,” a senator who prefered anonymity told our correspondent.
The practice in the senate, going by its previous senate rules was that the party with majority seat in the senate always have more slots in chairmanship positions of senate’s standing committees.
For instance, in the seventh Senate, Sen. Ahmad Lawan (ANPP from Yobe) chaired the Public Accounts Committee in line with the constitutional provision that zoned the position to opposition party in the parliament while Sen. Ayo Akinyelure (LP, Ondo North), was given the chairmanship of Ethics and Privileges’ Committee.
Other committees headed by opposition parties were Science and Technology, Capital Market and Privatisation chaired by Senators Ajayi Borrofice (LP, Ondo North), Ayo Adeseun (PDP, Oyo Central) and Gbenga Obadara (ACN, Ogun Central) respectively.
However, in the 2015 senate standing orders as amended, order3(4) states that, “The appointment of Senators as chairmen and members of committees shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the six geo-political zones of the country and there shall be no predominance of Senators from a few geo-political zones”.
Going by the provision in new senate standing order, the senate is expected to distribute its committees equally among the six geo-political zones of the country irrespective of political party affiliation.
With the new rule, each zone, regardless of its party representation at the current senate, is expected to get at least, nine committee chairmanship seats out of the total 57 existing Senate committees, which will be a complete departure from what obtained in the 7th Senate where senators of the ruling party then, ( PDP) got majority slots.
Investigation reveals that for the chairmanship slots in the seventh Senate, the South-South got 14 chairmanship seat. This is followed by the North Central, South East and North West, which got 10 each.
At that time South West got the least number of chairmanship positions with only five seats while the North East got seven.
The political implication of the equal sharing principle stipulated by the new rule is that the APC which drew its membership mainly from the North West, North Central and the South West will enjoy no special preference unlike what PDP enjoyed when it was in power.
It could be recalled that since inauguration of eight Senate, the 2015 Standing Rule had generated serious crises leading to the intervention of the Police. The Unity Forum Senators had petitioned the Police over what they described as forgery of the Senate Rule. This was a reaction to their defeat in the battle for Senate leadership.
Already, Nigeria Police had summoned leadership of the 7th Senate including Senators David Mark, Ike Ekweremadu as well as Victor Ndoma-Egba, following a petition written by Unity Forum Senators to Police.