OrderPaperToday – At the beginning of 2020, OrderPaper Nigeria spotlighted 10 senators who would shape the 9th Senate during the year.
Read that preview piece here.
Having reviewed the activities of these senators in the past one year, we bring you an evaluation of their performances.
As predicted, Senate President Lawan wielded his powers as presiding officer of the 9th Senate to offer full protection to the President and head of the Executive arm, Muhammadu Buhari. He confirmed and affirmed the “rubber stamp tag” on his leadership with expeditious compliance and approval of requests from the executive despite dissenting voices in some cases. Lawan, a few times, went to the extent of defending the Buhari presidency against public opinion, especially during the #EndSARS protests.
Also during the year, it was alleged that Lawan received bribe to help Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Yakubu Mahmud, secure a second term and hijacked job slots for N-power scheme. He denied both allegations. Lawan did not sponsor a bill in the first year of the assembly but weighed predominantly on the political side of his duties.
In 2020, the Deputy Senate President of the Senate, Omo-Agege, presided plenary sessions on more occasions unlike the previous year period when he did that just once in seven months.
Omo-Agege’s bill against sexual harassment received an overwhelming support during public hearing and got passed by the red chamber in July.
Also, being the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitution review, activities kicked off with the submission of memoranda from different organisations and groups.
His alleged case on forgery in a Californian court, USA, seemed to have died a natural death.
Senator Omo-Agege supported the protest against police brutality of which he recounted an experience that resulted to him using glasses. He came tops on the list of senators with the most bills sponsored and which progressed in consideration in the first year of the senate.
Senator Musa’s controversial bill social media bill was again brought to the fore when it underwent public hearing where majority of the stakeholders in attendance staunchly opposed it.
The committee in charge of the bill– Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters – is yet to give a report in the chamber several months.
The Niger senator however did not sponsor another contentious bill during the year. On the contrary, his bill that sought protection of victims of rape against stigmatisation scaled second reading in senate.
He was also accused like senator Lawan of receiving bribe for the confirmation of Mahmud; and like the senate president, denied the allegation.
As projected, the fourth term Senator and former deputy governor of Abia state, Abaribe reechoed the voices of the minority in criticizing the President Muhammadu Buhari administration every now and then. Senator
Abaribe can therefore be said to have creditably discharged the burden of being minority leader of the senate although that cannot be said to the case for bills sponsorship.
The Kano North senator continued with his contributions to bills and motions, especially those of the education sector. Recall that he chaired the senate committee on TETFund in the 8th assembly.
As chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, he can be savour the credit of helping the senate and by extension, the national assembly, meet the target of January to December budget cycle despite some delays.
Being one of the vibrant female senators, Oluremi Tinubu made several inputs on the floor of the red chamber and notably provided leadership to the Senate Committee on Communications.
At the beginning of the #EndSARS protests, she was the second to raise the matter of human right abuses by security agents in plenary.
Senator Okorocha, in his usual manner, continued to make his voice heard in the senate, especially with respect to debates on the floor. On the political front, he stayed heavily vocal as well. He has already hinted of his intention for the presidency in 2023.
Okorocha did not sponsor a single bill in the first year of the senate, a record that justifies the position that former governors simply use the senate as retirement homes after serving their governorship tenures.
Aisha remains one of the performing female senators in the 9th assembly with her numerous inputs to the legislative affairs both in plenary and in committee meetings.
Her motion among others reiterated the need for the executive to take charge of the country’s security affairs.
One of her bills which scaled second reading proposed issuance of fines, imprisonment ad punitive measures for non-compliance to the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
Senator Sabi sponsored the contentious bill titled, ‘National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech.’ Following massive public uproar, the bill not slated for second reading throughout 2020.
As the deputy whip of the senate, he enjoyed prominence, especially while performing the roles of his office in the absence of the chief whip. Sabi contributed to the debate of #EndSARS protest in the chamber and called creation of rules of engagement to stop extrajudicial killings.
The first ever female minority leader who secured her seat four months into the 9th Assembly, Senator Olujimi maintained a strong position in condemning alleged maladministration of the All Progressive Congress (APC) led government.
On one occasion, through her point of order, the senate called on the President to address Nigerians over the #EndSARS protest against police brutality, which he eventually did after much pressure. Through her motion also, the senate urged the executive to use 1% of Value Added Tax (VAT) to fix destructions caused in Lagos State after the #EndSARS protests was hijacked by hoodlums.
She maintained her pivotal advocacy for gender equality, having sponsored a bill in that regard. For instance, the senator recently vowed to reject any proposal seeking voting powers for underaged married girls should it come up for debate in the Senate.