OrderPaperToday – It is precisely 50 days between when the National Assembly was inaugurated on June 11 and July 30, 2019 when the Senate adjourned plenary for its annual recess. This translates to 17 days that Sen. Ahmad Lawan, President of the Senate, presided over the plenary of the upper legislative chamber. Lots of decisions and conduct relating to leadership certainly also occurred behind the scenes in the days when he is not holding forte at the dais of the red chamber.
Although short a time for an assessment of a possible four-year tenure, the period however offers a peep into Lawan’s leadership style and how it affected business at the senate. Here’s what we can tell you:
Business-like conduct: Unlike the 8th Senate characterized by lateness, the 9th Senate under the leadership of Lawan maintained a steady level of punctuality in the period under review. Although plenary is slated to commence 10:00am every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the 9th Senate was observed to resume a few minutes behind schedule. Proceedings often started between 10:05am and 10:10am.
Inclusiveness and patience: When there is a debate on the floor, each Senator irrespective of party affiliation is given ample time to give their contribution. About 15 Senators can speak on one motion with each of them spending not less than 10-15 minutes. Most times, the chamber extends plenary beyond the stipulated time for adjournment at 2.00pm in order to accommodate more speakers on a debate.
Partisan allegiance: During his campaign for the senate presidency, Lawan consistently declared that there will be effective synergy between the legislature and executive and that he would uphold the tenets and position of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). So far, he has kept the promise despite dissenting voices in some cases. An instance was seen when senators both from the APC and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) protested the exclusion of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the ministerial list. The Senate President simply responded saying, “Your point of order is noted”, a strategy often used to stop further deliberations on a matter. Also during the ministerial screening, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi was awarded the ‘bow and go’ privilege traditionally given to members (past and serving) of the National Assembly. At the behest of Lawan’s senate, the Rivers State nominee blazed the trail for former state assembly members to be given the special treatment and thus exempted from rigorous screening. Some Senators felt Amaechi ought to be questioned being the former Minister of Transportation in President Muhammadu Buhari’s first tenure but Lawan noted that the nominee was not under any obligation to respond, paving way for his exit.
Gender-friendliness: One of the major takeaways from the ministerial screening conducted by the 9th Senate is it’s ‘gender friendliness’ as was never seen before. All seven females nominees were given preference and excluded from serious interrogations which was largely perceived as chauvinistic in some quarters. OrderPaperNG also observed that female senators have been very well included in decisions so far taken by the chamber.
Rubber stamp tag: Upon the commencement of the 9th assembly, there was widespread concern that the federal parliament will be nothing but a ‘rubber stamp’ of the presidency. Both the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and the President of the Senate were, unlike previous assemblies, anointed candidates of the ruling party. Many have pointed at the way the ministerial screening was conducted as a case in point.
However, a lot now depends and is indeed, expected from Sen. Lawan to drive the legislature in a positive light that fulfills the wishes and aspirations of Nigerians.