SPOTLIGHT: Behold the bench warmers of Nigeria’s Senate 

NewsroomDecember 17, 201710 min

The story of the 8th Senate is yet unfolding. While some senators are living up to the billing, others have chosen the path of being bench warmers, writes TITILOPE FADARE

bench warmers

Of the 108 members currently in the Senate – Anambra Central remains without a Senator for over two years now – no less than 14 of them have earned the unenviable ranks of bench warmers, back benchers and staunch truants. In contrast to the vibrant likes of Dino Melaye, Shehu Sani, Olusola Adeyeye, Jibrin Barau, Bala Na’allah, Abiodun Olujinmi, and Kabir Marafa, among others, this class of senators are not only of concern to their constituents but may justifiably be accused of not living up to the billing with respect to their huge earnings.

Among this lot are some who have never moved a motion; made little or no contributions to debates; barely have bills to their names; hardly visible in committee assignments; and have never raised a point of order to as much as call attention to a matter of public concern to their constituents. In this class also are those who specialize only in seconding motions and mouthing ‘ayes’ or ‘nays’ whenever a question is put; while others are only just interested in party politics at the total detriment of legislative duties. Sadly, for the people of Plateau and Benue States, two of the three senators respectively are senior members of this class.

Find below the list of bench warmer-senators of the 8th Senate:

Bench warmers in the Senate
Senator Buruji Kashamu (PDP, Ogun)

Buruji Kashamu (PDP, Ogun) – Buruji Kashamu is unarguably the staunchest truant of the 8th Senate. Kashamu represents Ogun East and he is well known for his dogged struggle against moves to extradite him to the United States for drug-related offences. This senator has featured very prominently in the hitherto rancorous crisis in the PDP, the height of which was his suspension from the party on the heels of the December 9, 2017 national convention. He has no record per motions and bills and it is possible his attendance at plenary falls below acceptable thresholds. He is certainly the captain of this class.

Bench warmers in the Senate
Senator George Akume (APC, Benue)

George Akume (APC, Benue) – Mr. Akume contested the seat of Senate President and lost to the incumbent, Bukola Saraki in 2015. That was the biggest prominence this former two-time governor of Benue State has had in the 8th Senate. This senator has spent more time and energy playing godfather in the party politics of Benue State than discharging his duties at the red chamber. He has not sponsored a bill, presented a motion, nor even seconded a contribution since 2015. The people of Benue North-West senatorial district he represents could have benefitted more from the services of a ranking senator that Akume is.

Bench warmers in the Senate
Senator David Mark (PDP, Benue)

David Mark (PDP, Benue) – Regarded as an untitled leader of the Senate, David Mark, who was consecutive two-time President of the Senate, has scored almost zero points in his legislative duties since 2015. Sen. Mark has been in the Senate since 1999. Since his resumption at the 8th Senate, the lawmaker has sponsored only one bill to establish a Federal University of Health Sciences in Otukpo, Benue State. In fact when he was leading the debate on the bill, his presence elicited cheers from his colleagues as he is hardly present during plenary, making him one of the bench warmers of the 8th senate.

Bench warmers in the Senate
Senator Ahmed Yerima (APC Zamfara)

Ahmed Yerima (APC Zamfara) This former governor of Zamfara State (1999 to 2007) and a third term senator reinforced his place in the hall of infamy when he threw massive weight against the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill in 2016. Recall that he had been enmeshed in the child bride scandal years before. This Senator has not been seen to spearhead a bill or motion; he is rather known to have expressed his aspiration to contest for presidency if the incumbent does not re-contest in 2019.

Bench warmers in the Senate
Senator Jonah Jang (PDP, Plateau)

Jonah Jang (PDP, Plateau) – Jang is a former governor from 2007 to 2015. He was born on the 13th of March 1944. Probably due to his old age, the federal lawmaker has been hampered from contributing to legislative business either at plenary or committee assignments, making him one of the bench warmers of the 8th senate.

Bench warmers in the Senate
Senator Jeremiah Useni (PDP, Plateau)

Jeremiah Useni (PDP, Plateau) ‘Jerry Boy’ specializes in seconding motions rather than moving his. There is no bill to his name either. Useni seconded the motion which called for the inclusion of Kano and Plateau States in the North East Development Commission (NEDC) on November 6, 2017. The lawmaker, who represents Plateau South, equally seconded a motion moved by Sen. Aliero (APC, Kebbi) on the 1st of March 2017.

Bench warmers in the Senate
Senator Ben Uwajumogu (APC, Imo)

Ben Uwajumogu (APC, Imo) – Uwajumogu replaced Athan Achonu of the PDP in the Senate after a fiercely contested re-run election. He was Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, a credential that should have been a boost to the people of Okigwe senatorial district whom he represents. But since his entrance into the 8th Senate on September 27, 2016, Uwajumogu is only known to have presented three petitions on behalf of his constituents on November 8, 2017. He was listed as a member of an ad-hoc committee to conduct an investigation into the planned concession of the Port-Harcourt refinery on May 31 2017. Beyond these, nothing remarkable has been heard of the senator who came into the red chamber with so much expectation.

Bench warmers in the Senate
Senator Mohammed Sabo (APC, Jigawa)

Mohammed Sabo (APC, Jigawa) – Even though not a stranger to the legislature, Sabo is a prominent bench warmer in the 8th Senate. He was Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Anti-Corruption from 2007 to 2011; and Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Customs from 2011 to 2015 before winning the seat for the Jigawa South West Senatorial District in the last general elections. Besides being Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Investment, very little has been heard of him. However, the only motion to his name has to do with the alleged illegalities in the concession deal granted by the Ministry of Petroleum to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) and OANDO moved on May 30th 2017.

Bench warmers in the senate
Senator Danjuma Tella La’ah (PDP, Kaduna)

Danjuma Tella La’ah (PDP, Kaduna) – This senator representing Kaduna South has been caught sleeping on duty on September 23, 2016 during plenary session. Although Mr. Danjuma has two or so bills to his name and a couple of motions, he is generally considered to be a bench warmer in the Senate. Besides, his constituents are known to be vexed with his representation if online posts are anything to go by. He now belongs to the class of bench warmers of the senate.

Bench warmers in the senate
Senator Atai Aidoko (APC, Kogi)

Atai Aidoko (APC, Kogi) – Sen. Aidoko was sworn into office in January 2017 to represent Kogi East senatorial district after a protracted legal battle, which unfortunately, has not ended as an Appeal court few days ago, confirmed the shaky status of his seat in the Senate. The legal challenges aside, this senator is known to have supported just one motion and a bill: the former relating to the concession of the Port Harcourt refinery; and the latter being the NIPOST bill sponsored on May 10 2017.

Senator Yele Omogunwa (APC, Ondo)

Yele Omogunwa (APC, Ondo) – Apart from the rowdy session his defection from the PDP to APC caused in the Senate on November 30 2016, there is little known about his legislative sojourn. Omogunwa was the only male senator among 6 female counterparts who co-sponsored a motion to call for the domestication and implementation of Violence against Person’s Prohibition (VAPP) Act in all states of the country.

Senator Rilwan Akanbi (APC, Oyo)

Rilwan Akanbi (APC, Oyo) – The last contribution made by this senator was in 2016. He however, has two bills to his name: the Institute of Economists of Nigeria Bill, 2016 and the Social Safety Net Bill, 2016. This senator lacks visible presence in the Senate.

Senator Nelson Asuquo Effiong (APC, Akwa-Ibom)

Nelson Asuquo Effiong (APC, Akwa-Ibom) – Mr. Effiong represents Akwa-Ibom South senatorial district originally on the platform of the PDP before he defected to APC earlier in the year. He was once a Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. The lawmaker sponsored the bill on the Maritime University of Nigeria, Oron in Akwa Ibom State. Apart from that, nothing much has been heard from him and reports of discontent among his constituents are rife, making him one of the bench warmers of the 8th senate.


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