By Christiana Ekpa
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas has justified that the increase in the number of the Standing Committees from the 109 inherited from the 9th Assembly to over 130 in the 10th session of the Green Chamber, was done to enhance efficiency in the House give value to the country, even as he stressed that Every standing committee of the House must be seen working for the betterment of Nigeria.
Abbas had in July unveiled 134 Standing Committees and named their Chairmen and Deputies while he announced creation of three additional ones on Monday.
The Speaker at the interactive session with journalists covering the Green Chamber in Abuja on Tuesday, said the increase in the committee was to enhance the efficiency of the House and add value to the country.
He emphasized noted that the Committees on Monitoring and Evaluation and Implementation for instance were aimed at ensuring that every standing committee leaves up to its responsibility while the legislative agenda is implemented to the later.
According to Abbas some committees hitherto had too much responsibility as they were too many agencies under their purview and can not effectively carry out oversight functions, hence the need to split them for efficiency.
The Speaker said: “There are so many things that the 10th Assembly has brought onboard that will not only enhance our efficiency in the House but will also give value addition to the country. One of them is the creation of a standing Committee to monitor the activities of all standing committees in the House.
“You will agree with me that in the past not all committees were active because of one thing or the other. This time around, we want to ensure that every standing committee leaves up to its responsibility. Every standing committee must be seen working for the betterment of Nigeria.
“We want transparency, we want result oriented administration and that is the reason why we decided that this time around there should be a standing committee that will be monitoring what is happening in the other standing committees.
“We also bring on board another standing committee that will monitor the implementation of our legislative agenda. We set a standing committee to be monitoring how we are going about implementing our legislative agenda.
“You are also aware that we brought on board so many additional committees during the last three months and we are not just doing it to satisfy members who wants to leaders in the National Assembly. It is to enable us to further deepen our oversight legislative function. Some committees are so large to oversight.
“I give you an example,
for example, the committee on tertiary education in the past has over 300 agencies under it. They won’t be able to cover the agencies within the year. Today we have over 130 committees in place of the 109 that we inherited at the end of the 9th Assembly.”
Abbas also assured that House under his leadership will provide journalists to access to information and enhance their capacity to effectively report the activities of the parliament in line with the principles of objectivity, balance, fairness and truthfulness.
“I want to use this opportunity to inform you that the issue of training and retraining has been a core issue to the House of Representatives and we engage a lot of organisations to come to our aid for our members, committee clerks and members of the press.
“I also want to assure you that we are considering coming up with a strong bulletin which will capture on a month by month basis all the activities of the House from plenary to committee meetings, oversights, other engagements and so on and so forth. That will also give you an opportunity to also at a glance on monthly basis see what we are doing… to provide objective information about our activities,” he stated.
The Chairman, House of Representatives Press Corps, Comrade Grace Ike said the journalists accredited to the Green Chamber were ommitted to promoting good governance through objective and balanced reportage and called for openness and timely supply of information.
“As professional journalists, we are also conscious of national interest and have been doing our job with utmost patriotism. We are not oblivious of the fact that the parliament is the bastion of democracy and hence the reports coming out of it must reflect the reality on ground and meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians.
“However, we also need the cooperation and support of your leadership to continue offering undiluted service to the nation. We need the understanding of committee chairmen and their members in reciprocating our friendly gesture and carrying us along in their activities.
“Mr Speaker, the parliament is a specialised area so training and retraining of journalists should be given utmost priority and we look forward to seeing this materialise,” she said.