OrderPaperToday – Two years down the line since the 9th National Assembly was inaugurated with a total number of 469 Legislators representing both chambers, just a little percentage have shown capacity through their engagements and participation during legislative activities.

Therefore, majority could be referred to as bench warmers as seen in this report on the senate. This is not without prejudice to the fact that there are certain indices one can use to measure performance of a Nigerian legislator, including sponsorship of motions, bills, debates during plenary sessions, committee and constituency engagements.

Issues and expectations…

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The House of Representatives at the commencement of the session had set an agenda to pass the elusive Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and the much anticipated electoral bill. It also proposed amendments to some laws to cure the wave of insecurity and economic downturn of the country. While they are achieved some of these, others remain pending. Thus, the year 2022 is pregnant with a lot of expectations from the legislators. Shortly before adjourning for the Christmas break, President Muhammadu Buhari returned the Electoral Amendment Bill to the National Assembly citing the inclusion of compulsory direct primaries by political parties as a reason.

To tackle these pending issues and more before the House of Representatives, the following lawmakers have been identified as members to watch out for in 2022. Incidentally, nearly all of them made the list for 2021.

Reps to pass bills in two weeksFemi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos)

So far, Gbajabiamila since his election in 2019 as the Speaker of the House, has been able to maintain a delicate balance between the House and the executive while maintaining a united House, even if superficially. Under his leadership, the PIB saw the light of the day despite several attempts to shut it down as in the past. Despite being a principal officer, the Lagos-born lawmaker has pushed for several impactful bills such as the Economic Stimulus Bill; as well as controversial proposals like the controversial Infectious Diseases Bill that was recently passed for third reading. Gbajabiamila, in 2022, will be hoping to midwife the Electoral Act Amendment Bill which was recently refused assent by Mr. President and also some constitution amendment bills. The polity certainly will watch out for the Speaker.

Reps rile over budget defence avoidance

Idris Wase (APC, Plateau)

The Deputy Speaker of the House has been enmeshed in controversies that tend to suggest he takes sides along religious and party lines while presiding in the absence of the speaker. For instance, the manner in which he prevented Terseer Mark Gbillah (PDP, Benue) from presenting a petition by Association of Tiv People in Diaspora on the killings in Benue State allegedly carried out by Fulani herdsmen, brought the House to public opprobrium. Speaker Gbajabiamila had to save the situation. However, as chairman of the House committee on constitution amendment, Mr. Idris Wase would remain the focus because of the importance of that committee to Nigerians. His committee will have the responsibility of guiding perennial bills like local government autonomy, 35% affirmative action and other constitution alteration bills. Also, as the deputy speaker he serves as the Chairman of Committee of the Whole. So his relevance cannot be overemphasized. Wase has shown intolerance for long debates at plenary, unlike Gbajabiamila who likes to indulge members to have their say. He would rather prefer to refer matters to relevant Committees than have members debate such issues on the floor of the House which most times does not sit well with some lawmakers.

Reps approve finance bill for second readingAl-hassan Ado Doguwa (APC, Kano)

The pattern of ascending Speakership via House Majority leader position is another tradition parliamentarians in Nigeria are trying to adopt from the American system. Both Femi Gbajabiamila and Sen. Ahmad Lawan emerged as Speaker and Senate President respectively after serving as Majority Leader in their respective chambers in the previous assembly. Ado Doguwa, the proud father of 27 children and 4 wives, is also on the same path. While 2023 is still far away, Doguwa who may not have the charisma or the oratory of Gbajabiamila will try to use 2021 to cement his hold on the House. Doguwa is one of the longest-serving members of the House. 2022 will be another year to watch out for him.

Onyejeocha sponsors women billNkeiruka Onyejeocha (APC, Abia)

Before swapping the umbrella of the PDP for the broom of APC in 2018, Onyejeocha was part of the trio of Betty Apiafi and Nnenna Elendu that ‘led’ the opposition at the time when former Minority Leader, Leo Ogor was sick. While Apiafi is now in the Senate, Elendu did not get a return ticket, and Onyejeocha who is now the Deputy Whip cannot criticize her party having joined them before the 2019 general elections. She no longer has her voice as before, save for shouts of “Order! Hon….take your seat” when she is acting as Whip of the House. Since constitutional amendment will take centre stage in 2022 and affirmative action, which failed in the 8th Assembly is back in the House, Onyejeocha is one of the most ranking female members of the House and only female principal officer that will have the responsibility of leading the charge for the passage of the bills. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha is the lead sponsor of the bill to create additional seats for women in parliament which received a lot of commendations from women groups beyond and outside the country.

Elumelu moves motion on row between Nigeria, UAENdudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta)

The Minority Leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu, who controversially got to be amongst the House principal officers, has proven that he can muster the visibility and attention to be in that position. Elumelu fought so hard to gain the confidence of his party (PDP) given that he was not the anointed candidate of his party for the position. The minority leader seems to have found his voice despite his inability to initially mount opposition against the ruling party, including sponsorship of several motions that seek to investigate corruption under the current government. Few months back, Elumelu led a walk-out of minority party members out of the chamber over a heated debate on the Petroleum Industry Bill and the Electoral Amendment Bill. There will be eyes on him in 2022.

Mungonu on PIB report
Hon. Mungonu

Mohammed Monguno (APC, Borno)

The Chief Whip of the House has remained vocal and relevant in the scheme of things in the House of Representatives.  As chairman of the ad-hoc committee on PIB, he ensured a smooth process and eventual (controversial) passage of the PIB: a no small feat considering that the bill failed on several occasions for different reasons.  Monguno who is a third termer has and would remain relevant due to his political prowess and experience in parliament. He has sponsored several bills on agriculture.

Aisha Dukku sponsored bills and motions in the 8th assembly
Aisha Dukku

Aisha Dukku (APC, Gombe)

All eyes will watch out for Dukku because of the electoral bill. As the chairperson of the committee on electoral and political matters, she has the responsibility of going back to the drawing board to look the grey areas pointed by Mr. President. Dukku served as the Chairman of the same Committee in the 8th Assembly, but her committee failed to galvanize adequately for the passage of the bill. The bill was marred in different controversies perhaps due to the relationship between the leadership of the 8th Assembly and the executive.

Ahmed Jaha (APC, Borno)

Mr. Jaha has remained vocal and prominent on national issues especially as relating to security. Recall that it was Jaha moved the amendment to the motion on the invitation or summoning of the President in November 2020. That amendment almost torpedoed the House under Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila. The outspoken Jaha represents Chibok/Danboa/Gwoza federal constituency, an area suffering the onslaught of the dreaded Boko Haram terrorism in Borno State. Jaha, despite being a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), seldom holds back when calling out the executive, including the President. Aside from security, he has also earned a stripe as a debater on the floor of the House. During the debate on Establishment of Army University Biu, Borno state, his intervention saved the legislation that was on the brink of rejection by the House. Moreso, his ability not to back down often leaves the Speaker no choice but to recognize him, although he had not registered his name on the bills chart of the House as at midterm. He is certainly one to watch out for this new year.

Reps Public Accounts probes firmOluwole Oke (PDP, Osun)

The Chairman of the Public Account Committee (PAC) has been prominent from the get-go of the 9th Assembly. His committee has been probing almost all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the federal government on the basis of the Report of the Auditor General of the Federation. Two years down the line, the PAC Committee has remained active and continued to expose corruption in agencies of government. Citizens however expect his committee to go beyond the drama and lay a report for the House to work with. Civil  society  will  watch  out  for  him.

James Faleke (APC, Lagos)

Ordinarily, attention in the House is usually on the Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, but it seems the Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, James Faleke, has appropriated some powers and influence to himself in the 9th House. And also, the broad powers of the House Committee on Finance, particularly its power to oversight the monitoring and enforcing the implementation of the fiscal responsibility act has made it possible for the Committee to be involved in the budget process from start to finish. Through the oversight on the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the Committee is also involved in working on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF). The implication is that the Committee on Appropriations has to rely on the fiscal assumptions such as oil benchmark price, daily production, exchange rate etc as approved by the Finance committee for adjusting the budget. Furthermore, the Finance Committee also has the power to “oversight ministry responsible for finance and its parastatals, save for those assigned to other committees,” according to the Order 18 rule 41(2a) of the House standing rules. Faleke is respected by his colleagues because he has the ears of the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, making him one to watch out for.

Nwawuba moves motion to probe intervention projects
Hon. Henry Nwawuba

Henry Nwawuba (PDP, Imo)

The House legislative agenda is the blueprint or framework the 9th House uses in achieving its promises to Nigerians, according to Gbajabiamila. In September 2020 Gbajabiamila appointed Nwawuba as the Chairman of the Ad hoc committee on Implementation of the Legislative Agenda and in the speech announcing the appointment, the Speaker said: “This Ad-Hoc Committee will work with the Committee on Rules and Business to ensure that bills brought forward for consideration align with our Agenda.” For anyone familiar with the House, this committee determines the priorities of the House – which bill should be considered first and which motion should get the legislative hours. Nwawuba will therefore be involved in taking these major decisions. He is one to watch out for in 2022. The Imo lawmaker has remained steadfast and relevant in all sheres of political activities within the National Assembly and beyond. He is known for presenting well researched motions and bills. Recently, Nwawuba presented a motion on drugs abuse amongst youths that raised dust across the country and beyond. He noted that the drug popularly known in the south eastern region of the country as Mkpuru Mmiri has negative effects on users and is a growing threat to youths and the future of Nigeria. Nwawuba will be one to watch out for in the new year.

Reps to probe govt assets saleToby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu)

The Deputy Minority Leader of the House has been, perhaps, one of the strongest voices on the minority leadership bench. The PDP has been bleeding from defections. The party will be hoping to patch up and mount opposition against the ruling party. On the minority leadership bench therefore, much will be expected from Toby Okechukwu who has refused to take a back seat as he always insisted that the reasons for adduced by defectors were not cogent enough and therefore their seats should be declared vacant. He will be on the watch list for 2022.

Chinda explains walkoutKingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers)

Chinda has been on the sideline since he was outwitted for the Minority Leadership position back in 2019. Since the recognition of Elumelu led principal officers of the opposition in the 9th House of Representatives, Chinda has remained silent. But close watchers of the House politics recognize that Chinda still pulls the strings of the opposition pendulum as far as strategy is concerned. In this regard, members, even across party lines, defer to him when it comes to galvanizing opposition to the ruling party. The punchy press statements from the PDP caucus, which he unanimously leads, attest to this. He is therefore one of the Reps to watch in 2022.



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