The African Parliamentary Advocacy and Reform Group (APARG), a civil society organisation, has called on the leadership of the House of Representatives to jettison the alleged plan to create 145 standing committees.
APARG director Chibuzo Okereke, in an open letter on Wednesday, urged Speaker Tajudeen Abbas to “strongly resist“ the alleged plan and to reduce the committees to 60 for effectiveness and easy management of legislative work.
According to him, APARG has credible information suggesting that the 10th House of Representatives may increase the committees from 109 in the Ninth House of Reps to 145.
“Over the years, especially since 1999 and the fourth National Assembly, the House of Representatives standing committees have been progressively fragmented, proliferated and balkanised with each new assembly,” the letter stated. “This is largely due to political considerations and patronage over legislative effectiveness and productivity.”
The group added, “The trend in political decisions to progressively increase the quantity of the standing committees rather than the quality of the committees has resulted in a serious decline in legislative assertiveness, effectiveness, productivity and value for money.”
It noted that “what is worst” is that most of the committees, due to the scarce resources of the National Assembly, “are overburdened and risk nearly 100 per cent dependence on the executive agencies which they oversight as a source for operational survival in performing their constitutional functions.”
Mr Okereke said the committee system was the engine room and the life-wire of any productive legislature globally.
He said the “excessive fragmentation“ and the proliferation of the committee system without consideration of the important principles of robustness and effectiveness weakened the parliament and urged the speaker to change the tide to engender an effective and productive oversight system and improve the image and perception of the National Assembly.
“Our professional advice is for Mr Speaker and the leadership to jettison the alleged plan to create 145 standing committees. Rather, Mr Speaker should drastically reduce the existing 109 committees to about 60 standing committees for effective management, efficiency and measured productivity,” he said.