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Dogara raises House committees to 95

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The number of standing committees in the House of Representatives will increase from 89 to 95 anytime soon, Daily Trust learnt yesterday.

Sources familiar with the matter said that there are great expectations from those that helped Yakubu Dogara to emerge House Speaker on June 9.

Our sources said the Speaker had already approved a proposal to raise the number of the committees to 95 to meet those expectations.

The increase is coming at a time when President Buhari is planning to reduce the number of ministries and agencies in an effort to run a slim government.
The Speaker himself  on June 23 said committees with duplicating functions would to be merged, streamlined or scrapped.

However, multiple sources in the House yesterday said the Speaker has since reversed himself to increase the committees to 95.

Based on the new arrangement, it was learnt, some House committees will be divided into two or three while new ones are to be created “all in an attempt to create job for the boys,” said one of the lawmakers
It was gathered that the committee on education will now be split into three – primary, secondary and tertiary education, while that on agriculture would be divided into two mechanised and rudimentary agriculture.

“You see, this is a statement of fact. What he wants to do is just to give his supporters committees at all cost. He promised various people chairmanship of committees, so he must fulfil that.

“But to me, I think we must stick to the policy of the federal government on reduction of cost,” said one of the lawmakers.

A new committee, which will oversee activities of certain regulatory agencies such as the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), will be created, sources said.

The committee will ensure the approval of any new regulation by such commissions before implementation.
However, if the committee fails to communicate to the commissions three months after receiving their proposal, they are free to go ahead with implementation.

Further inquiries revealed that unlike before when House committees were categorized into about five groups, they will now be in only three categories, A, B and C, and each member will be given the opportunity to select two committees to serve on.

Already, members of the House were given forms to fill in which they would indicate their preference, but sources said it was all formalities as some committee chairmen have already been picked based on the promises the speaker made to some lawmakers.

The selection committee, which is responsible for constituting the committees and chaired by Dogara, met on Tuesday last week, where it decided on the modalities to follow in setting up the committees.

But it was learnt that the issue of increasing the number of committees was not discussed there as it is the exclusive preserve of the speaker.

Based on what obtained during the time of Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, where each committee was given N7 million quarterly as running cost, the 95 committees under Dogara may end up gulping N2.66 billion annually. But it is not clear if Dogara will retain Tambuwal’s style.

It was gathered that during the inception of the current democratic dispensation in 1999, the Fourth House under former Speaker Umar Ghali Na’abba had less than 20 committees, but that the number of the House panels started increasing during the tenure of Aminu Bello Masari current Katsina State governor, who served as speaker between 2003 and 2007.

Under Dimeji Bankole in 2007, it was learnt that the number of committees increased to more than 50, while during Tambuwal, the House maintained 89 committees.

But checks showed that the United States House of Representatives with 435 members currently has 21 congressional committees, 20 of which are standing committees and one select committee. All but three committees, the Budget Committee, the Ethics Committee, and the House Administration Committee, are subdivided into subcommittees, each with its own leadership.

Findings further revealed that the modern US House committees were brought into existence through the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946, which reduced the number of committees from 48 to 19, as well as restructured their jurisdictions.

When contacted, Dogara’s spokesman Turaki Hassan referred our reporter to the chairman of the House ad-hoc committee on media Rep Sani Zorro for reaction as the matter was purely a House affair.

However, efforts to reach Zorro were unsuccessful as calls put to his phone number were not returned.

But Zorro had told journalists last week during a media briefing that the process of constituting the House committees had begun.

Also, attempts to get reaction from a member of the media committee Rep Abdulrazak Namdas failed as his phone was switched off at about 7:30pm.

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POLITICS

Wike meets PDP senators, Orubebe

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The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike on Thursday received the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leadership in the Senate in Rumuepirikom, his country home in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state.

The PDP delegation was led by the Senate Minority Leader, Philip Aduda.

Also a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe met with Wike

Orubebe recently resigned from the Peoples Democratic Party.

In attendance at the meeting were the Senate Minority Whip, Chukwuka Utazi; Shuaibu Lau, Danjuma La’ah and Barry Mpigi.

A Government House source said the senators arrived at the governor’s residence some minutes past 3pm and immediately went into a closed door with their host.

The outcomes of the separate meetings were not made public.

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POLITICS

ADC presidential candidate denies tax fraud allegations in US

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Dumebi Kachikwu

The presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Dumebi Kachikwu, has denied allegations of tax fraud in the United States.

Kachikwu said this in a statement on Wednesday titled, ‘Allegations of tax evasion, fraud against me untrue, politically motivated’.

The presidential candidate said the allegations were propagated by his political opponents who were unhappy with his victory at the ADC Presidential primary.

The Roots TV boss, therefore, asked supporters to ignore online reports that the US government had indicted him for tax evasion running into millions of dollars.

The statement read in part, “A few days ago, my campaign team received information that one of the aspirants who lost out in the just concluded ADC presidential primaries was planning a series of smear campaigns against me.

“I was therefore not surprised when I saw this story. Contrary to the information being peddled, I was assessed an additional $9m several years ago by the US Inland Revenue Service.

“This amount was reduced to $2m and when the IRS sued to collect the amount, my lawyers didn’t contest it and instead waited for a default judgement in order to go to the next stage which is making an offer in compromise to reduce the amount to be paid. This is a standard legal practice in tax matters.”

Kachikwu also denied allegations that he delivered a bribe to convicted US Congressman, William Jefferson.

The ADC candidate said rather, he was the one who reported the former Congressman to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

The statement further read, “(The report) claimed I had delivered a $100,000 cash bribe to curry the favour of the former US Congressman.  This is another lie as multiple evidence abounds online clearly showing I was the victim who reported the US congressman to the EFCC and the FBI for defrauding my company.

“I have now instructed my lawyers to sue all digital media organisations who participated in the dissemination of this falsehood.”

The Roots TV boss said he was sure of victory in next year’s Presidential election.

Kachikwu, who is a younger brother to a former Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, surprisingly defeated a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, to win the ADC’s Presidential ticket.

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POLITICS

Kwankwaso’s party gains one, Labour Party another as senators defect from APC, PDP

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Two Senators on Wednesday announced their defection from their former political parties to another party ahead of the 2023 general election.

The Senators are: Francis Ezenwa Onyewusi representing Imo East Senatorial district and Haliru Dauda Jika representing Bauchi Central Senatorial district.

Their defection was made known by the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan during a plenary on Wednesday.

While Senator Francis Onyewusi who is a first-timer to the Senate was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and defected to Labour Party (LP), his counterpart in Bauchi was a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) before he defected to the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).

The defected Senators cited injustice and inequity in their former political parties that made them fail the primary elections.

On Tuesday, three All Progressives Congress (APC) senators defected to other political parties.

Ahmad Babba Kaita, senator representing Katsina north; Lawal Yahaya Gumau, senator representing Bauchi north, and Francis Alimikhena, senator representing Edo north, all defected to other parties.

Kaita, who represents President Muhammadu Buhari’s senatorial district, defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) alongside Alimikhena.Advertisement

Gumau defected to the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), a party led by Rabiu Kwankwaso, former governor of Kano state.

The defectors have cited “marginalisation” and unfair treatment by their former parties as the reason for joining new parties.

Most of them were seeking reelection, but lost their tickets in their former parties.

The number of APC senators now stands at 66.

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