OrderPaperToday – The current House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions within the year received 1100 petitions from Nigerians from all walks of life.
Of this number, the committee successfully considered and treated 127 between January to November 2018.
Issues ranging from wrongful termination of employment, contract breaches by government agencies, communal grievances and compensation claims, among others, were resolved in the best judgment of the committee and by extension, the plenary of the House which must give assent to the recommendations of the committee.
The Committee is generally mandated to investigate petitions from Nigerians on any issue or matter especially concerning the conduct of affairs of government agencies.
Section 88(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) empowers each chamber of the National Assembly to direct or cause to be directed an investigation into: (a) any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make laws; and (b) the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged with the duty of or responsibility of: (i) executing or administering laws enacted by the National Assembly, and (ii) disbursing or administering of monies appropriated by the National Assembly.
By virtue of the constitutional provision above, Order 18(5) of the House of Representatives Standing Orders provides for the establishment of the House of Representatives Public Petitions Committee to engage in fact finding/investigations. The Committee receives petitions from individuals, conducts investigations into the same and makes recommendations to plenary.
The recommendations are deliberated upon and resolutions are made which Clerk of the National Assembly transmits to the relevant agencies and organizations attaching the votes and proceedings of the House on the particular matter.
According to the Standing Orders, the committee shall be composed of not more than 40 members of the House of Representatives. It maintains a secretariat headed by the clerk of the committee who is responsible for the administration of its activities.
The committee is chaired by Mr. Nkem Abonta (PDP, Abia). His experience as a third timer has come to bear because he is adjudged as an outstanding, disciplined and intelligent legislator who has handled the affairs of the committee credibly well.
Speaking to OrderPaperNG in a telephone conversation on the activities of the committee in the last one year, Mr. Abonta said the committee has achieved a lot.
“I must say we have done very well in the last one year because the committee has received more than one thousand plus petitions. We have also considered many and I believe our efforts have also changed a lot of lives and situations,” he said, adding:
“Several agencies have written to us conveying the implementations of our recommendations; it is worth the while serving Nigerians. For instance, Nigeria National Petroleum Cooperation (NNPC) is one of those agencies that wrote to the committee not too long ago to inform us of complying with our directives of reinstating some persons whom were sacked.”
Corroborating the position of the chairman in terms of performance, Mr. Chucks Eke, a video online journalist who covers the House of Representatives as well as the committee scored the committee high.
“I must say the Public Petitions committee under the chairmanship of Hon. Uzo Nkem Abonta has surpassed my expectations. In the seventh assembly the committee was mounted by a very intelligent lawmaker in person of Uzo Azubuike and committee did well under him so I was worried if Nkem would be able to beat his record.
“The committee has performed excellently well because I monitored the case of a youth corps member by name Nelly Ruben who was refused employment by Federal Capital Territory Administration despite been recommended by National Youth Service Corps authority for automatic employment. I can tell you today that she has been given employment by the same agency and promoted to level 10 after the committee recommended same.”