OrderPaperToday – It is no longer news that the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, will not be representing Kwara central senatorial district in the 9th assembly, following his defeat by the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Ibrahim Oloriegbe.
While this piece looks at the Saraki years as presiding officer, here’s what you need to know about Oloriegbe.
Without an iota of doubt, there has been a lot of ups and downs in the red chamber under Saraki’s tenure which expires in June this year. Here are the good, the bad and the ugly high points:
POSITIVES: Unprecedented number of passed bills
It is under Saraki’s leadership that the red chamber recorded an unprecedented passage of 257 bills as at January 2019. Compared to past assemblies, this is one achievement the 8th senate prides itself with. Among the lot controversial and impactful bills like the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill which unfortunately was not assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari; and the Companies and Allied Matters Act (amendment) bill to facilitate ease of doing business in Nigeria.
POSITIVES: Open NASS
The 8th Senate was the first to make public the budget of the National Assembly which had never been done in past assemblies. This was in reaction to months of public advocacy campaigns mounted by civil society bodies, including Enough is Enough. However, the budget did not indicate specifically the earnings of the federal lawmakers, thereby drawing some flak from observers.
POSITIVES: Landmark constitutional amendments
The 8th Senate alongside the green chamber recorded some milestone amendment of certain provisions of the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, a tedious and extremely strenuous process that also involved the approval of two-thirds majority of state houses of assemblies in the country.
One of amended provisions which was eventually signed into law is the reduction of age criteria into political offices which allowed participation of youths in this year’s general election.
LOW POINTS: Controversial emergence
Till tomorrow, it is widely believed that the Senate President manipulated his way into the position of the third citizen of the country because the party under which he got elected in 2015, the All Progressives Congress (APC), had another candidate for the seat, Ahmad Lawan. According to Saraki himself in a personal appraisal of his enthronement, his emergence was part of the original sin against the establishment in power.
LOW POINTS: Executive/Legislative feud
Saraki’s leadership marked several battles between the legislative and executive arms of government: from the presidency to ministers and heads of security agencies. It was a tug of war for the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali to obey the chamber and appear before it in his uniform, the former Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris completely snubbed the hollowed chamber’s summon on four occasions over insecurity in the country and rejection of confirmation of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.
And with the presidency, the battle was on major bills like electoral amendment act bill rejected four times , Water bill over its control of resources in state by the federal government and delayed passage of annual budgets and padding allegations.
LOW POINTS: Suspension of Senators
It was under Saraki’s control that two Senators were suspended for ‘bad behaviour’.
Senator Ali Ndume was given a 90 day legislative suspension for asking the Committee on Ethics and Privileges to probe a media report that the Senate President refused to pay duty on his imported SUV and Senator Dino Melaye for falsification of certificate, which were found to be untrue. This made the committee issue the suspension.
Similarly, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege was issued a 90 day legislative suspension for backing President Muhammadu Buhari on the electoral act amendment bill. While Ndume faithfully observed his punishment, Senator Omo-Agege gave the chamber a tough time till he forcefully found his way back to his seat through a judicial intervention.
LOW POINTS: Stolen mace
Saraki’s leadership made history with the invasion of the red chamber and carting away of the mace by unknown persons who till date remain at large Never has such situation happened since the existence of the National Assembly.