An aspirant for the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Gagdi, says he will stop the standing committees of the lower chamber from depending on federal agencies to fund their oversight activities.
Mr Gagdi stated this while unveiling his campaign manifesto at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja on Saturday.
Although he did not elaborate on how the funding is done by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the lawmaker, who chairs the committee on Navy, said it is an aberration of democratic practice and against the principle of the 1999 constitution.
The constitution guarantees the financial autonomy of the National Assembly. It is placed on the first line charge in the federal budget. However, committees of the House routinely get financial and logistics support from MDAs they oversee in the course of their official duties.
“It is not a good use of resources for the House of Representatives to spend all of its time on establishment bills. It is an aberration of democratic practice for the oversight committees of the National Assembly to depend on the executive agencies under their purview to fund oversight activities,” Mr Gagdi said.
Mr Gagdi, who represents Pankshin/Kanam/Kanke federal constituency of Plateau State, said he plans to trigger a conversation on how the parliament ought to perform.
He acknowledged that the federal parliament has yet to meet the expectations of Nigeria after 24 years of uninterrupted democracy.
He also promised to open up the activities of the House to ensure transparency and accountability.
“The manifesto, I am presenting to you today articulates the internal reforms of the House of Representatives I intend to pursue as Speaker, as well as the policy priorities I intend to champion through the legislative process.
“I am presenting this document today because I want to initiate a national conversation about what the proper function of parliament in our country ought to be.
“Twenty-four years since the return to democracy, the Nigerian people have rightly come to expect more from their parliamentary representatives. The ability of the House of Representatives to effectively meet those expectations depends on the quality, capacity and dedication of the members who serve in the parliament. It also depends on how the internal operations of the House are structured, designed and funded.
“We need to open the operations of the House of Representatives to the Nigerian people so that they understand why we exist and why it is worthwhile to expend scarce resources on our operations,” he said.
Mr Gagdi also promised to democratise the activities of the House by “ensuring that the disenfranchised voices in our country are given an audience on the chamber floor and representation in the halls of the legislature. We need to make the House of Representatives a place of, an arena of patriotic and intelligent discourse and enlightened, informed decision-making.”
‘North-west, North-east have had fair share’
Speaking on zoning, Mr Gagdi said Mr Tinubu and the APC must be fair to the North-central by zoning the speakership position to the region.
He said the North-west and North-east have occupied the position for a combined period of 16 years, hence the North-central should be favoured.
“I want that same spirit of justice, equity and fairness to play out in the election of the 10th Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“We have six geo-political zones, in the North, we have three, the North-west, the North-east and the North-central. These three have shown that North-west had Ghali Na’Abba, Salisu Buhari, Aminu Masari and Tambuwal as Speaker.
“The North-east had our brother, Dogara as Speaker but from 1999 to date, the North-central has no single Speaker.
“I urge our president-elect, who is a talent hunter, who is a democrat to support the party to zone the speakership to the North and in the same spirit of justice, equity and fairness, that was shown in the presidential election of 2023 let it be zoned to the North-central that has never produced the speaker from 1999 till date…” he said.
Mr Gagdi asked the president-elect to take a cue from the northern governors that fought for power shift to the south during the APC presidential primaries.
“Our president-elect, I am following his footsteps as someone that is elected based on his potential, based on his antecedence, based on what he means to Nigerians.
“I cannot remember as an APC member where Mr President-elect was endorsed as a consensus candidate for our party, no.
“It was only zoned to the southern part of Nigeria. I give my respect to the northern governors who came out at that time to say that the North has produced presidents for 8 years,” he said.
READ ALSO: House Speakership: Lawmakers from APC, PDP, LP, NNPP, others form coalition
Mr Gagdi is one of 11 aspirants that are jostling for the position. The others are the incumbent Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase (Plateau), Sada Soli (Katsina), Tajudeen Abbas (Kaduna), Muktar Betara (Borno) Tunji Olawuyi (Kwara), Abubakar Makki (Jigawa), Aminu Jaji (APC, Zamfara), Ben Kalu (Abia), Ado Doguwa (Kano) and Miriam Onuoha (Imo).
However, indications are emerging that Mr Tinubu and the APC have settled for some of the aspirants.
Tajudeen Abbas (APC, Kaduna) and Ben Kalu (APC, Abia) have been reportedly tipped for speaker and deputy speaker, respectively.
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