OrderPaperToday– With the resumption of the Red Chamber only a few days away, it is expedient to assess in retrospect and beam the spotlight on senators who will shape the 9th Senate in 2020.
These lawmakers include newbies who have, within the last 6 months, made an impact in the Upper Chamber and returning senators who already have the advantage of experience from serving previous terms. While some made the list due to their contribution due to the sheer number of bills and motions they have raised on the floor of the chamber and involvement in committee activities, others were selected based on their status in the Senate – as members of the ‘inner caucus’ who must be consulted before important decisions are taken.
Since his emergence, Lawan has been tagged as one who is always willing to do the biddings of the executive, contrary to his predecessor, Senator Bukola Saraki.
He has since denied such claims, saying he is only pursuing a harmonious relationship with the executive for the betterment of all Nigerians. As he continues his first year on the highly coveted position, time will tell what the true motive behind the “relationship” between the 2 arms of government is.
Ovie Omo-Agege: His emergence as the deputy Senate president of the 9th assembly came as a surprise to many because of his alleged involvement in the theft of the mace of the Senate in the 8th Assembly.
However, within the last six months of assuming his new position, Omo-Agege has displayed a clear understanding of the leadership role, in addition to having a full grasp of how to respond to burning issues as they arise.
His sponsorship of a bill to curb sexual harassment in response to a report on sexual assault of female students in Nigerian tertiary institutions by some lecturers is a typical example.
However, up to the time the federal lawmakers embarked on 2019 Christmas recess, the deputy Senate president was yet to preside over any plenary session, unlike his counterpart in the green chamber who has been active in that aspect.
A curious case was when the Senate president was unavailable for close to 2 hours after the usual resumption time for plenary but Omo-Agege, who was present in the chamber, could not preside.
But as chairman of the 9th Senate adhoc Committee on Constitution Review, he will have the opportunity to bring his leadership skills to bear in how he coordinates his colleagues.
Another issue the senator may be faced with this year is an alleged conviction by a Californian court over a case of forgery and fraud that took place in 1995. The matter blew up during his recent trip to the United States with a youth group in his constituency calling for his resignation.
Sani Mohammed: Mohammed already gained some level of popularity, though this is only his first term, chiefly due to the introduction of the Social Media Bill which, from its first reading, became controversial as many Nigerians believe it is a ploy to impede freedom of speech. The bill successfully scaled second reading and a public hearing will soon be convened for individual and stakeholders’ input.
The Niger East senator has also shown relevance in his contribution to debates during plenary, while holding the second-highest number of bills, 7, just within six months of being in the upper legislative chamber. It is impossible not to expect more from him this year.
Eyinnaya Abaribe: The fourth term senator and former deputy governor of Abia State has been a fierce critic and strong opposition of the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration, even before he assumed the role of the Senate minority leader.
Abaribe, since he became the leader of the opposition in the Senate, has upped the ante in monitoring and criticism of the present government. He is known to be very vocal and speaks truth to power, no matter the rebound that may occur thereafter.
He is notable for his stance on national issues, including the federal government’s handling of the agitation for the Republic of Biafra in the South East where he hails from, his opposition to the composition of the 2020 budget which he described as “unsustainable” and for raising concerns of possible connivance between soldiers and armed bandits in fuelling insecurity in the country.
He is also active during debates on bills and motions on the floor of the Senate and has a tidy number to his credit as well.
Barau Jibrin: The Kano North senator has shown himself as an educational resource in the Red Chamber, probably from experienced gathered from heading the 8th Senate committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND. He topped the chart in sponsorship of education bills totaling 12, with 6 passing through third reading.
Education related bills he sponsored are National Open University Act (Amendment) Bill, 2015; City University of Technology Kaduna Bill, 2016; TETFUND Act (Amendment) Bill, 2016; Federal University of Education Kano (Est, etc) Bill, 2016; Federal University of Education, Zaria (Establishment, etc) Bill, 2016; National Fiscal Stabilisation Levy Bill, 2017; Education (Nat. Minimum Standards &Est of Institutions) Bill,2018; National Board for Tech. Education (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill,2018; National Commission for Colleges of Education (Repeal and Re-enactment)Bill, 2018; Federal Colleges of Education (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2018, JAMB Act, (Amendment) Bill,2018; Federal University of Agriculture, Danbatta, Kano (Est, etc) Bill, 2018.
In the 9th Senate, he was selected to head the Senate Appropriations Committee which is believed to be the most relevant committee in the federal chamber. Under his chairmanship, the lawmakers worked assiduously to get the 2020 budget cycle to return to January to December.
Biodun Olujimi: The first-ever female minority leader is known for her tenacity and close marking of the ruling party, All Progressives Congress, in the 8th senate. She made it to the list of OrderPaper’s 9 most active senators in the previous assembly for her motions and point of orders opposing sharp practices by the government.
Her bid to be part of the 9th assembly initially suffered a setback following her defeat at the polls by Adedayo Adeyeye, candidate of the APC but four months into the new assembly, she found her way in following a court ruling in her favour. Within just one month of her return, she has reintroduced the gender and equality opportunity bill which she sponsored but was rejected by in the 8th assembly.
Rochas Okorocha: The first-term senator and former governor of Imo State come to the 9th Assembly with drama. It started with the refusal of INEC to issue Okorocha a certificate of return after the returning officer alleged he declared him winner under duress.
After scaling that hurdle via a court judgement in his favour, the senator was sworn into the Senate. He has made a mark for himself since then; in fact, his colleagues listen in utter silence when he is contributing to a debate because of his witty and funny expressions.
He has made calls for the reduction of the number of representatives in the federal chambers, reunion women, opposition to donor funding which he described as a form of neo-colonialism.
Aisha Dahiru: This Adamawa lawmaker is one female senator to look out for in 2020 for her vibrancy in legislative business. Though a first-termer, she exhibits a wealth of knowledge when discussing and lending her voice to topical issues. Little wonder she was appointed to chair the committee on Sustainable Development Goals.
Within a few months in the chamber, she moved a motion calling for the suspension of the use of Avastin drugs which she said caused loss of sight of 10 people, and another urging teachers to attain a high level of technological proficiency and provisions of computers in libraries.
She is one of the female lawmakers to look out for in the Senate.
Sabi Abdullahi: The two-term senator gained prominence following his appointment as the Senate spokesman in the 8th assembly and for his forte in defending the chamber during turbulent times. While there seemed to be uncertainties around his return to the chamber in the 9th assembly, he successfully scaled through to become part of the principal officers, serving as the deputy chief whip.
His sponsorship of the controversial Hate Speech bill serves as a major highlight of his first six months in the chamber, even though he is mostly seen making frantic moves to justify the importance of his bill. With the intending law yet to be considered for second reading and uneding reactions it is generating, expect to see more of him in the coming months.
Oluremi Tinubu: The wife of APC chieftain, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Oluremi remains a voice among the female senators in the red chamber and a vibrant female politician.
Her status in the chamber preempted her as a suitable candidate to vie for the deputy Senate presidency seat before the anointment of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege by the party. A former chairman of the Senate committee on Environment, she now chairs the Committee on Communications. A lot will be expected from her political and legislative positions in the year.