Twenty committee chairmen in the House of Representatives yesterday forfeited rights on 25 bills due to their inability to meet up with the stipulated deadline to submit the documents.
Some of the committees and bills affected include the National Programme on Immunisation Act- Health Services committee; Monetary Power (Abrogation and Regulation)-Justice committee; Communication Service Tax Bill 2015- Telecommunication;Traffic Warden Service Bill, Police Affairs, Medical Rehabilitation Therapists Registration Act(Amendment) Bill 2016 Healthcare Services Committee, among others.
This was sequel to a motion brought to the floor of the House by Edward Pwajok, PDP, Plateau.
While making his submission, Pwajok noted that the bills were read separately a second time between 2016 and 2017 and referred to respective committees for legislative actions.
Citing the relevant House rules to back up his submission, Pwajok said: “Any matter referred to any committee shall be treated within 30 days, otherwise the committee shall stand discharged after 60 days and the matter committed to the Committee of the Whole for consideration.’’
At this point, Betty Apiafi, PDP, Rivers, raised a point of order challenging the position of the House that most of the committees were not adequately funded.
She said: “Under normal circumstances, if expenditure exceed budgets and there is no adequate funding, what happens?”
But the Leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, APC, Lagos, quicky countered Apiafi’s submission.
He said: “ There’s need for us to take House Rules seriously because tax payers money is involved in all we do here.
“Even the committee I co-chaired on Estimated Power Billing since June this year has not submitted its report. I want the adhoc committee included in the list to be submitted to the Committee of the Whole.’’
Speaking almost in the same vein, Mohammed Tahir Monguno, APC, Borno, said: “My colleague, Apiafi, is wrong to have said committees were not adequately funded.
“With all sense of humility, I am a fourth timer here and out of the four sessions, I chaired committees twice and we had adequate funding all through.
“ It’s not correct to say the House leadership is not adequately funding committees, at least to the best of my knowledge, not my committee.’’
In his intervention, the presiding officer, Yakubu Dogara, asked Pwajok who incidentally is the chairman, Rules and Business, to round off the debate.
In his final submission, Pwajok said: “The 8th Assembly has introduced more than 1500 bills and still counting and we have about seven months left to end this session.
“I do not want what happened in the seventh Assembly where 40 bills were treated in one week. Some of these bills dated as far back as January 2016.’’
When the debate was put to voice vote by the speaker, the ays carried the day.
Recall that last year, more than 13 adhoc committee chairmen lost their chairmanship positions for flouting same House Rules.