TODAY makes it exactly three years that the Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal-led Seventh House of Representatives was inaugurated.
Three years down the line, the House has survived so many onslaughts as Tambuwal steered the arguably most vociferous Green Chamber in Africa from troubled waters.
What has made his administration unique can be largely attributed to his ability to carry fellow lawmakers along.
One year to the end of the Seventh Assembly, Tambuwal had busied himself constructing and re-constructing the House he started in 2011. His critics are, however, bitter with him for not re-constructing the leadership of the committees he inaugurated since August 2011.
Their grudge stemmed from the fact that majority of the chairmen lack the capacity to manage the affairs of the committees.
Some lawmakers, who spoke exclusively to Vanguard, said some of the juicy and sensitive committees were given to opposition members.
This, they claimed, gave the majority Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, weak bargaining power during legislative processes. But some other lawmakers debunked this assertion, saying it was the best thing that ever happened to the legislature in Nigeria because it enhances robust debates on the floor of the House.
The Legislative Agenda of the 7th Assembly is one area that Tambuwal had recorded successes in the last three years.
The House recorded above average in the Agenda, which among others include: reviewing legislative branch budget in line with the requirements of openness, effectiveness and accountability; and reviewing all relevant areas of the constitution to facilitate the implementation of the House’s legislative agenda and in line with the aspirations of Nigerians.
Tambuwal with his Deputy, Emeka Ihedioha, excelled beyond all doubts. Ihedioha’s legislative experience came to bear as he met the deadline fixed by the House.
Also in the Agenda is to engage actively with other arms of government to restore public order and national security. The House fared badly on this item. Tambuwal personally took this challenge upon himself but his dogged efforts fell like a sand castle built by the side of the ocean.
The last item on the agenda was to institutionalise mechanisms that will facilitate more effective engagement with various stakeholders including constituents and Civil Society Organisations, CSOs. Here, the 7th Assembly performed better than previous assemblies. For the first time in the history of Nigeria, the Reps took the constitution amendment process to the grassroots.
Performance of committees
The House has 89 substantive committees but among the lot only few are outstanding in their legislative duties.
The outstanding committees are Public Accounts Committee, AC; Communications and Information
Technology; Diaspora, Justice, Works and Inter-parliamentary Affairs; Aviation; Public Petitions; Foreign Affairs; and Rules and Business.
Some of the committees operate in a secretive manner as their activities are usually concealed from journalists and even fellow members.
Some committee chairmen hinged their poor performance on paucity of funds, though many members say such committee chairmen are only lazy.
The Fuel Subsidy Regime Monitoring ad-hoc committee led by Lawan Farouk came vide a House Resolution on January 8, 2012 to quickly checkmate the near anarchy situation in the country caused by the withdrawal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government.
The revelations from the committee hearings shook the conscience of the nation and helped to project the moral fiber of the legislative chamber in its dealings with the executive arm of government.
Few months later, this major plus for the House turned into a nightmare for Farouk Lawan, who was accused of collecting bribe from business mogul, Femi Otedola, to influence the work of the panel. This major setback was the only scandal the Tambuwal’s House recorded in the last three years of its existence.
Capital market probe
An attempt to conduct another inquiry into the capital market, however, revealed the underbelly of the House that Speaker Tambuwal had so much tried to protect.
The capital market investigation initially assigned to the House Committee on Capital Market soon derailed into a scandal laced with accusations and counter-accusations of bribery and corruption. The chairman of the committee, Herman Hembe, was accused of collecting esta code for a foreign trip that was never performed.
The Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Ms Arunma Oteh, was on her part accused of sundry extravagant expenditures. In the end, the House toed the path of honour by re-assigning the investigation to an ad-hoc panel of the House headed by Hon Ibrahim El-Sudi.Hembe went to court and in April this year he was acquitted of all charges. This development vindicated the House. Till date, the executive has not looked into the report of the House on the issue.
The ad-hoc committee on Constitution Amendment led by Ihedioha lived above board and gave the 7th Assembly a big leap. However, same cannot be said of the ad-hoc committee on Petroleum Industry Bill, otherwise known as PIB. Two years after it was inaugurated nothing much has been achieved despite the massive support it has enjoyed from the House leadership.
The House had gone on numerous oversight functions but much was not really achieved as most committee chairmen go on such functions without the press despite provisions by House leadership for press coverage.
This is a major minus to the 7th Assembly but can still be corrected before its extinction.
Defection of 37 PDP lawmakers
The defection of 37 PDP Reps to APC has whittled down the almost 100 percent support Tambuwal enjoyed from inception.
But this has not in anyway slowed down the pace of the Sokoto-born Rep as he still enjoys close to 75 per cent support of his legislative comrades.
Conclusively, the Tambuwal House has undoubtedly enjoyed enormous goodwill from Nigerians and has raised the standard in legislative decorum giving the much needed credibility to an institution that was battered by the recklessness of its progenitors. The matter of productivity is, however, another issue as the refusal of House leadership to change committee chairmen three years after might just be another time bomb.
This is one time bomb Tambuwal may not allow to explode as he knows how best to satisfy his colleagues who still very much believe in him.