OrderPaperToday- As there are Benchwarmers in the 8th Senate so are some active senators who regularly move motions, raise points of orders and dutiful in committee work. For some of these, plenary proceedings are not complete until their contributions are taken. This list of nine consist mostly of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members while a female senator stood out. These senators made the red chamber thick in 2018:
Senator Biodun Olujinmi (PDP, Ekiti)
She can be described as the senate’s ‘drama queen’. Early in the year, she reportedly instructed her aide to slap a parliamentary workers’ union official for daring to join her on same elevator in the National Assembly. But aside the slap drama, she moved some notable motions including one on the growing sexual harassment in tertiary institutions using the case of Monica Osagie from Obafemi Awolowo University (the randy lecturer was recently sentenced to two years in jail); and another on the occasion of this year’s International women’s day. An outcome of this particular motion was that the senate summoned security chiefs over the abducted Chibok and Dapchi girls by Boko Haram terrorists.
Olujinmi can be referred to the most vocal female lawmaker of the upper legislative chamber, taking swipes against the executive without fear or favour. In one instance, she called out the Managing Director and Executive Director of Finance of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for spending $3.5 billion budget recovery fund without appropriation; and in another, strongly tackled President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominee who had a controversial certificate.
Not long ago, Senator Olujinmi raised the allegation of vote buying against the All Progressive Congress (APC) -led Muhammadu Buhari administration. She alleged that the government was using the trader moni social intervention programme as a ploy to harvest the Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) of the electorates ahead of the impending general elections. That allegation which was strongly denied by government, caused a row in the polity for a while. In another motion, the Ekiti-born senator blamed the present administration for hiding details on the death of soldiers mauled down by boko haram.
Following the defection from PDP and consequent resignation of Sen. Godswill Akpabio as minority leader, she was upgraded to sit with the ‘big boys’ in the red chamber having become replacement for the former.
Senator Samuel Anyanwu (PDP, Imo)
Apart from being vibrant on the floor of the upper chamber, Senator Anyanwu is devoted to his committee on Ethics, Petitions and Public Privileges as his capacity as Chairman. His committee is one of the few with the record of being timely in submission of reports on assignments referred in plenary.
Notable resolutions from Sen. Anyanwu’s committee include recommendation that the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment pay a contractor the sum of $1.7m as outstanding contractual fees. In other resolutions, the committee mandated the Nigerian army and the NNPC to compensate some illegally dismissed staff.
Another recommendation from his committee led to the suspension of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege over ‘false accusation’ against the chamber in respect to the amendment of the electoral act.
His point of orders caused the chamber to summon several ministers over spending of unapproved funds and another condemned the federal government for refusal to conduct regular checks in the aviation industry.
Senator Dino Melaye (PDP, Kogi)
Obviously a tough year for him, Senator Dino Melaye was however able to survive a couple of dramatic challenges including a botched recall, excruciating police encounters, battles with his state governor, judicial prosecution led by the government and alleged assassination attempt on his life.
One of his daring moments with the executive was when he demanded that President Buhari rescind his decision to veto the Peace Corps bill.
He can be described as “fearless” and adjudged as the most active Senator of the upper legislative chamber who is popular for his many taunts on social media through his hit mockery songs and videos.
Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia)
Sen. Abaribe has been very vocal in calling out the APC-led administration when given any given chance to speak in senate.
In one occasion, he lamented the ineptness of President Muhammad Buhari in handling the affairs of the country. During the second reading of a bill to prescribe punitive measures for undemocratic conducts by electoral officials, Abaribe took opposition politics a notch higher by calling on President Buhari to act immediately or face impeachment.
He once told Nigerians that the country is no longer safe due to Buhari’s limited knowledge of goings-on in the country; and also called on the first citizen to declare 31st of December as Democracy destruction day being the day Buhari as a Major General overthrew the democratically elected government of President Shehu Shagari.
The Police was not left out of Abaribe’s criticisms especially on the assassination attempt on the life of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.
Like Melaye, he faced some battles due to his decision to serve as one of the sureties to the leader of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu who has since fled the country. The senator was picked up by the Department of Security Service due to his failure to produce Mr. Kanu and ordered by the court to pay N300 million as bail bond.
Senator Shehu Sani (PRP, Kaduna)
Activist-turned-politician, Shehu Sani, never fails to lend his voice to national issues in the red chamber and elsewhere, particularly on Twitter where he boasts of a substantial following.
Despite being in the ruling party before his defection, Sani has been vociferous in criticizing the incumbent administration of President Buhari, although he would also take to the defence of the President at some other times. He once warned Buhari to beware of his Governor, Nasir el-Rufai and other privileged visitors to Aso rock; just as he lamented the politicization of Daphi and Chibok kidnap episodes.
He moved motions on increased insecurity where he lamented that blood is now cheaper than water; warned his colleagues not to politicise the killings in Benue; and called for the probe of rape cases on IDPs by soldiers.
Shehu Sani is one to make his verdicts known not minding whether it offends his colleagues or not. His popular whistle-blowing on the ‘sacred’ secret of the sinful earnings of senators; and call for the scrapping of the corruption-laden constituency projects scheme, were cases in point. His colleagues barely tolerated him on such accounts.
Senator Sani is equally known for being at loggerheads with his state governor, Nasir el-Rufai. On one of such matter he brought to the floor of the chamber, he described the governor as ‘a curse and affliction’ to Kaduna state and defended Senator Bruce against the Kaduna helmsman over a rail project commissioned by President Buhari.
Slammed with a N200 million suit by el-Rufai, Sani refuses to back down although the feud eventually cost him the APC nomination to return to Senate in 2019. He is flying the return bid on the platform of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), the platform he abandoned to join the APC ‘change’ bandwagon in the pre-2015 days.
Senator Ben Bruce (PDP, Bayelsa)
Senator Bruce like Abaribe and others, would not miss a chance to criticize the President and the APC when called upon to speak in senate. He had called out the administration for approving funds against insecurity without recourse to the chamber. He once described Buhari as “London’s famous health tourist” due to his frequent medical vacation to the United Kingdom and even asked that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki take over the President’s job.
Senator Kabir Marafa (APC, Zamfara)
Being in a focal committee, Petroleum Downstream, Senator Marafa has been on his toes in preventing fuel scarcity or industrial action from oil workers although his committee had been accused of presenting shoddy reports or being compromised. On the fuel subsidy issue, he had asked that refineries be scrapped.
His contributions to debates in plenary are often targeted against his governor, Abdul’Aziz Yari whom he accused of aiding militias to kidnap citizens and then declared war on him for sponsoring and covering up killings.
Perhaps buoyed by his governorship ambition, Sen. Marafa had variously spoken strongly in the interest of Zamfara State. He once condemned the exclusion of the state from a federal government intervention for IDPs; while he sensationally reeled out figures on causalities of a series of attacks suffered by Zamfara State.
In his quest to take over the state from his governor in 2019, Marafa and Yari were involved in an irreconcilable tango that eventually barred the APC from not fielding candidates in the 2019 elections.
Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu)
He is extremely dedicated to committee duties and in one of its hearings, criticized the federal government for giving N450 meal per day to prisoners. In the heat of Nigeria’s suspension from the Egmont Group, Sen. Utazi e accused legislators in the green chamber of stalling a bill to establish the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) as a distinct body from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), a condition for lifting the temporary ban.
In favour of his constituents, he argued about the true owner of a controversial oil well ‘OPL915, 916 AND 917’; bemoaned the critical condition of Enugu airport; protested against lopsided appointments; and asked for the construction of rails for the South-East.
Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe)
Being the Senate leader from the ruling party, he must be seen defending and salvaging the course of the incumbent administration especially President Muhammadu Buhari when he comes under intense lashes from Senators in the opposition parties.
For instance, during the second reading of a bill to prescribe punitive measures for undemocratic conducts by elected officials, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia) cautioned President Buhari to take charge of the country or face the wrath of impeachment. Swiftly, Senator Lawan heckled and told his colleague to focus on the objective of the bill rather than cast aspersions on the first citizen.
On another occasion, Abaribe alleged that Buhari lacks sufficient knowledge of the workings in the country, further buttressing ineffectiveness but Lawan warned him to stay in confines with the matter being deliberated.
Again, the Abia Senator described Buhari as “incompetent” of which the Yobe Senator demanded an apology.
Severally, Buhari was indicted of skewed appointments, but Lawan downplayed and told his Southeast colleagues to rather look at the “larger picture”.
While Senators questioned the act of response by the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces in securing the release of Dapchi Girls from Boko Haram, Lawan rather praised him for sending security agencies to the affected zone.
In another instance, he pleaded with his colleagues to do the bid of the President by fast tracking an executive bill against dissenting voices.
In defence of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Senate leader hurriedly dismissed allegations that the party used Special Intervention funds as a means of vote buying.
Asides being on the side of the executive, he wades into debate between Senators especially when it tends towards disarray.
Senator Lawan also expressed support for the red chamber being its leader, over the judiciary’s interference with the electoral amendment bill, when Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta) was issued a 90 day legislative suspension and was equally present at the hospital for Senator Dino Melaye (PDP, Kogi) after a running battle with the Police.
Top on his point of orders, urged the federal government to ban the importation of codeine because it is believed to be fuelling the activities of insurgency.