OrderPaperToday – This report examines the contributions of Oluremi Tinubu in the Senate between 2015 and 2019; and allows her constituents and Nigerians generally to make a call on her stewardship in the period under review.
Oluremi Tinubu was born on 21st September, 1960 and is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC). She is the Senator representing Lagos Central in the National Assembly.
Tinubu holds a B.S. in Education from the University of Ife, and a National Certificate of Education in Botany and Zoology from the Adeyemi College of Education.
Prior to her election into Senate, she was the former first Lady of Lagos state from 1999-2007.
She was first elected into the Senate in 2011 and was re-elected in 2015. In 2019, Tinubu polled 131, 725 votes, to defeat her closest challenger, Adesunbo Onitiri of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who scored 89, 107 votes.
Scorecard in the 8th Senate
Senator Tinubu sponsored a total of six bills in the 8th Senate although none of those bills was ever passed.
Her first bill was the Lagos State Economic Assistance Bill, 2015 which was rejected at the stage of second reading by the majority of Senators. During a rowdy debate, Senators argued fiercely over the bill that sought to make special provision for Federal grants to Lagos State in recognition of its strategic socio-economic significance and other connected purposes. Tinubu during lead debate, called on the Senate to support the proposed bill for Lagos to be granted one per cent of revenue to the Federation Account as statutory grant. Although a handful of Senators mostly from the South West backed the Bill, many others kicked against it and the nays had the day.
Her remaining five bills went a bit further than the Lagos Bill but all failed to make it past the Committee Stage. The five bills are: Prisons act CAP P29 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2016; Labour Act (Amendment) Bill, 2016; Police Act CAP P19 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2017; National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (Est, etc.) Act, 2006 (Amendment) Bill, 2017; and the Institute of Environmental Practitioners of Nigeria (Est,etc.) Bill, 2018.
From these five bills, the Police Act CAP P19 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2017; and the Institute of Environmental Practitioners of Nigeria (Est,etc.) Bill, 2018 generated significant interest in the public space.
The Police Act Amendment Bill sought to address issues of discrimination against women in the Nigeria Police Force. Senator Tinubu during the second reading of the bill highlighted how certain sections in the Police Act relating to age and marriage, discriminate against Nigerian women who have vision to impact their nation.
She said: “Disturbing is the enlistment requirement contained in police regulations, the regulations allow for enlistment of men who have attained age 17 but set enlistment age for women at age 19. We have been unable to find a reason for the variation in enlistment age for the different gender. Section 29 (4) of the constitution of Nigeria pegs the attainment of adulthood as 18.
“Thus, a law which allows for the enlistment to the nation’s police force is not only counterproductive, it is also against the principle of international law. This is very important because police force is allowed to carry arms. Should we acknowledge age 17 as the enlistment age, why does it discriminate against the woman by moving the goalpost for her? Is a 19 year old woman only equivalent for a man who is 17 years old? This position is discriminatory and pervades Section 42 of the constitution.
“However, the plight of a Nigerian woman seeking to join the police force, does not stop there, the Act further exempts Nigerian women who are married from enlistment; why is there such if there are no benefit distinguishing them from unmarried women?
“The Police Act goes further to say the women will only marry when they have served in the police for three years subject to the approval of the police commissioner. It should be noted that there is no commensurate provision requiring men to obtain approval to marry”.
Furthermore, her Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of the Institute of Environmental Practitioners of Nigeria drew the anger of environmental professionals across the country.
According to Dr. Emmanuel Ating, a frontline opposition to the bill and President of Environmental Management Association of Nigeria (EMAN), the provisions of the bill indicated that its advocates do not know the requirements for the establishment of a professional body.
He stated that the bill stipulates more than one academic programme or discipline as an acceptable qualification for membership of the institute which is against the provisions of the constitution. Dr. Ating clarified that if the proponents of the bill wish to establish a regulative council, there is need to choose a specific academic field as the body will be formed by graduates of the profession. He however pointed out that environmental practise is a generic name for town planners, architects, land surveyors, engineers, lawyers, environmental health workers among others.
Another reason for his opposition is that the bill makes provision for non-graduates which means that secondary school certificate and first school leaving certificate holders can be termed as environmental practitioners.
Outside her controversial bills, Tinubu was involved in a huge controversy in 2016, when Senator Dino Melaye reportedly threatened to beat and impregnate her during a heated closed door session of the Senate.
Tinubu in a series of petition to the APC Chairman and Senate President confirmed that Dino threatened to beat and rape her, a claim Dino denied stressing that he only called her “stupid” after she called him a “dog”. He added that he could not impregnate Tinubu because she had “arrived menopause”.
Nevertheless, Tinubu was very active in presenting important motions. In October 2015, she presented her first motion in the 8th senate. The motion was on the Apapa port gridlock, which Tinubu noted had resulted in “telling consequences on the nation’s economy”.
She stated that “75 percent of Nigeria’s trade was ship-borne and shipped through the Apapa port where cargo and petroleum products bearing trucks regularly cause gridlock on Apapa-Mile 2 and Apapa-Oshodi corridors, the trucks also parked on bridges and flyovers for days and weeks.”
The Senate in its resolutions directed its committee on marine transport to invite “the management and leadership of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigeria Shippers Council, the federal ministries of works and transport, the Western Naval Command, the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) and the Nigeria police to dialogue on the way forward.”
The red chamber further urged “the federal government to immediately consider long-term plans for technical re-design and expansion of the Apapa-Ijora-Orile-Mile 2 access trunks, as well as the Apapa/Tin Can-Mile 2-Oshodi corridor”.
In March 2016, Tinubu moved a motion to commemorate the International Women’s Day. In her presentation, Senator Tinubu decried growing gender inequality in the country in spite of several gender friendly laws, saying Nigerian women had suffered several forms of discrimination ranging from abduction, rape, and male dominance on inheritance.
She said: “I am concerned that rape is on the increase in the country and this is with little prosecution. There is therefore a need for re-orientation, on the gender equality, women’s rights and adequate allocation of resources.”
Accordingly, the Senate called on the Federal Government to intensify efforts at rescuing over 200 female students abducted from Chibok in 2014 as well as other girls kidnapped by hoodlums. The red chamber also expressed readiness to amend relevant laws to ensure that certain quota was reserved exclusively for women in the three arms of government.
In May 2016, the Senate appealed to the Federal Government to ensure the safe rescue of all children especially the Chibok Girls as a way of commemorating that year’s Children’s Day. The resolution followed a motion by Senator Oluremi Tinubu who said: “The Senate acknowledges that a proper system of education and good health care delivery are indispensable towards making the Nigerian child relevant in the global context. Over 70 percent of the people in IDP camps are also women and children who have been rendered orphans and widows.”
Consequently, the Senate mandated its committees on women affairs to further look into the implementation and enforcement of the Child Rights Act in states that had yet to comply. The Upper Chamber also directed its joint committees on Women Affairs and Health, to visit Internally Displaced Persons camps and celebrate the Children Day with the kids. It recommended the initiative by the National Youth Service Corps that medical doctors and other health professionals be deployed to serve in IDP camps. The Senate also urged the federal government to intensify advocacy to stop violence against children through the National Orientation Agency.
A month later, in June 2016, Tinubu sponsored a motion titled ‘Conflict and Crisis in Africa- Protecting all Children’s Rights’ as the world celebrated the 2016 International Day of the African Child. The Senate in its resolutions called on the Federal Government to make budgetary allocation to programmes that deal with children’s nutrition and education in the relevant ministries. The upper chamber also urged Federal and State governments to ensure the implementation of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act and the domestication and also full implementation of the Child Rights Act in states that are yet to do so.
In February 2017, The Senate raised an alarm that a cumulative N6trillion domestic debts being owed by the federal government could collapse the banking system and further prolong the economic recession in the country. The upper legislative chamber also called for a quick settling of debts owed local contractors’ which it put at an estimated N2 trillion.
The Senate’s position followed a motion titled ‘the urgent need for the Federal Government to redeem local contractors debts’ which was sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu.
In her comments, Senator Tinubu stressed that any further delay in servicing these debts may adversely affect business organizations operating in the country, which said she noted, are indebted to banks.
According to her, “The inability to repay subsisting bank loans may affect the purchasing power of petroleum marketers, thus creating scarcity of petroleum products. I am further concerned about the alleged failure to pay debts owed to pharmaceutical companies and the impact this may have on the health sector. The data released by the Debt Management Office put Nigeria’s domestic debt as at June 30, 2016 at over 10 trillion Naira. Local contractors debt is estimated to amount to an additional N2 trillion. Settling these local debts will ensure that affected businesses stay afloat through increase in the circulation of money in order to bring the current economic recession to an end. I know that this Senate is determined to ensure that Nigeria’s economy recovers from this recession and is nursed back to prosperity in the shortest possible time.”
In June 2017, the Senate called on the Ministry of Health at Federal and State levels to set up free and accessible mental health stations and also commence an awareness campaign on suicide. The resolution followed a motion by Senator Tinubu (APC, Lagos) which noted that Nigeria was ranked the 78th happiness nation in the world and the 4th in Africa in the 2015 world happiness report. She however expressed worry over the dominant presence of suicide catalysts, lamenting that Nigeria’s mental health support is barely existent while noting that these suicides are made worse by lack of attention and the belief that depression and other personality and mental disorders are white man’s sickness and thus does not affect Nigerians.
Still in June, 2017 the Senate resolved to probe the stalling of work on the Ogoni clean following a motion to mark World Environment Day sponsored by Senator Tinubu.
In October 2017, Tinubu sponsored another motion on lead poisoning in Zamfara State. According to her motion, there were 400 children causalities and that only 8 of the 38 affected communities in Zamfara State have had any form of remediation carried out.
She also disclosed that paucity of funds had forced several Civil Society Organizations out of the area. The Senate then resolved to summoned the Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi (now Governor of Ekiti State) to appear before it in plenary to deliver a brief on his Ministry’s mining road-map, implementation framework and how it intends to ensure protection of the inhabitants of mining host communities.
In May 2018, Tinubu sponsored a motion that led the Senate to call for alertness on the part of immigration and health authorities as well as citizens following an outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The red chamber urged the Minister of Interior to take necessary steps to check migration into the country, while calling on the Minister of Health to be on high alert with Ebola vaccines to combat emergency cases that may arise.
In February 2018, the Senate expressed worry over the exposure of school children to tobacco products. The Ministries of Health, Education, and Information were urged to work together to ban the advertisement and location of tobacco product stalls within 100 metres of all schools.
The Senate also urged the Ministry of Health and other relevant enforcement agencies to immediately establish a framework for the monitoring of the implementation of the ban on single sticks and cigarette packs with less than 20 sticks as detailed in the National Tobacco Control Act 2018.
Senator Oluremi Tinubu, who sponsored the motion on tobacco exposure to minors in schools, noted that there is a deliberate ploy by tobacco companies to situate tobacco adverts and signs within 100 metres of schools to pique the interest of children and the malleable youth in the use of tobacco products.
Some of the affected schools identified by the Senator include Kings Secondary School, Enugu; Mother Care International Nursery and Primary School, Nasarawa; Danbo College, Kaduna; lqraah Primary School, lbadan; Agidingbi Junior Grammar School, Lagos; Herbert Macaulay Primary School, Lagos; and Aguda Community High School, Lagos.
During the 8th Senate, Senator Tinubu was initially the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women Affairs before she was later named as the Chairperson of the Committee on Environment.
As Chairperson of the Committee on Environment, Tinubu told the press in June 2017 that the withdrawal of the United States of America from the Paris climate change agreement would not affect much of the world’s resolve to tackle climate issues, adding that the federal government must remain undeterred in its commitment to the deal.
In October 2017, She presented her Committee’s report that recommended a projected Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of N867,000,043.50 and a Revenue Expenditure Budget of N650,402,500.00 for the National Environmental Standards Regulatory Agency (NESRA) for the 2017 financial year. Senator Tinubu while reading out her report on the floor of the Senate called on NESRA to increase its efforts in acquiring land for office development in order to save cost of rent.
In November 2018, her Senate Committee on Environment embarked on oversight visits during which Senator Tinubu lauded the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) over its state-of-the-art Genetic Modification (GM) Detection and Analysis Laboratory.
Also during an oversight visit to Oyo state in November 2018, Tinubu and her Senate Committee on Environment decried low budgetary allocation to the Federal Ministry of Environment and some of its agencies.
She said: “The budgetary allocation to the Federal Ministry of Environment is very low, while the research institutes under the ministry are also in dire need of funds to operate optimally.”
Tinubu served in several other Committees in the 8th Senate. She was a member of the Senate Committees on Air Force; Employment, Labour and Productivity; and Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFund.