The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rt. Hon. Abbas Tajudeen, Ph.D, has said the standing committees of the House were increased from 109 to over 134 to allow better legislative oversight on the ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government by the legislature.
Speaker Abbas faulted the claim in some quarters that the increase in the number of committees was to create more chairmanship and deputy chairmanship slots for members of the House, stating that the new committees were broken out of the existing ones to ease the heavy burden on some of the old ones.
The Speaker made this known in Abuja on Tuesday during an interactive session with members of the House of Representatives Press Corps.
Speaker Abbas noted that the media is a critical part of democratic governance, hence he sought the support of the fourth estate of the realm in deepening Nigeria’s democracy.
He said: “For example, the Committee on Tertiary Education had over 300 institutions to supervise and at the end of every year, they would end up not being able to oversight some of them. So, we had to break it down to allow for efficiency and to put eyes on what the Executive is doing.”
Speaker Abbas also disclosed that all standing committees had been given a marching orders on performance and efficiency. He said this inspired the creation of a Committee on Monitoring and Evaluation of Standing and Ad Hoc Committees.
“In the past, not all committees were active. Now, we want to ensure that all standing committees are active, working for the betterment of the Nigerian people. We want to ensure transparency and we want results. That is why we set up the monitoring committee to monitor their activities.
“We have also set up a standing committee to monitor the implementation of our Legislative Agenda. I want to assure the people that we will work for the betterment of the country,” he said.
The Speaker also stated that the existing relationship between his office and the media would be strengthened, adding that the House would be holding a quarterly media briefing to enlighten Nigerians on its activities.
On the role the media plays in democracy, Speaker Abbas said for any democratic system to grow, the media must be objective and balanced in its reportage of activities concerning institutions like the legislature.
Earlier in her remarks, Chairman of the House of Reps Press Corps, Ms Grace Ike, noted that the Corps was pro-democracy and was committed to promoting good governance through objective and balanced reportage.
Ike said: “As 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.
“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.”