OrderPaperToday – The Nigerian Senate is seen as a revered and by law the highest lawmaking institution in the country. The House of Representatives on the other hand, which is referred to as the lower chamber of the National Assembly, basically passes budget annually, bills and motions. The constitutional functions of the Senate are multifaceted. The red chamber has the sole powers to confirm nominees from the president.

With the commencement of the Fourth Republic in 1999, the Senate has had some active and impactful lawmakers as well as benchwarmers. The Ninth Senate, led by Ahmad Lawan, is no exception. It consists of legislators who can be described as onlookers or bench warmers. Some of them do not attend plenary sessions neither do they participate in committee activities. They are hardly noticed and noticeable. Former governors are prominent in this category. Based on what has become a tradition among state governors who have served out their term, the Senate, over the years, has been described as a retirement home for former governors. This came to the fore in 2007, when some governors who had served out their terms, settled for the Senate.

Since the inauguration of the 9th Senate in June, 2019, some senators have assumed the status of on-lookers. They are largely silent on the floor of the Senate; they have sponsored zero motions, and hardly make contributions during major debates on the floor of the upper legislative chamber. They have remained there for more than two years with nothing notable about them. Conversely, there are vibrant Senators who make contributions during plenary and so their absence is usually felt. Meet the benchwarmers of the Senate in 2021:

Chimaroke Nnamani

Top on the list of benchwarmers of the senate in 2021 is Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, representing Enugu East Senatorial District of Enugu State in the National Assembly. He is a member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). Sen. Nnamani is a former governor of Enugu State; a ranking senator and one of the supposed intellectuals in the red chamber. However, he has been seriously missing in action since he was reelected and sworn in the last two years. The Enugu East lawmaker is seldom in the chamber. He rarely grants media interviews. He rarely contributes to any debate, motion or other important national issues. He is not known to attend committee meetings either. Sen. Nnamani, who is a trained medical doctor, was also missing in action at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is unclear if his non-appointment as chairman of a ‘juicy’ committee may have led to his existence in obscurity in the Senate. Even so, he sponsored only one bill in two years.

Nora Daduut

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Senator Nora Ladi Daduut winner of the Plateau South Senatorial Bye-election, held on December 05, 2020. She was thus elected to fill the vacuum created as a result of a sudden death of Senator Ignatius Longjan, who was representing the same senatorial district in the National Assembly. Sen. Daduut has remained largely unknown since she was sworn in. She is a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). She is always in the chamber but seldom makes tangible contributions to debates on national Issues. In terms of law-making, she sponsored zero bills in the first two years of the tenure. Coming from an academic environment, as a Professor of French, a vibrant representation was certainly expected of Sen. Daduut.

Kola Balogun

Senator Ademola Kola Balogun is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He is representing Oyo South senatorial district having defeated the late and immediate-past governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi in the 2019 general elections. Outside the National Assembly, he is considered a vibrant politician and an ardent party man. That vibrancy is missing in the legislative activities of Sen. Balogun, a man who defeated a sitting governor. He however gets the credit of sponsoring six bills at midterm of the 9th senate. Being a blue blood of the prestigious and historic Ibadan kingdom, he has proven to be fish out of water in the senate in 2021.

Ibrahim Gaidam

Another lawmaker who is considered as an on-looker is Ibrahim Gaidam, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). In April 2007, Gaidam was elected Deputy Governor of Yobe State. He was sworn in as governor on January 27, 2009 following the death of the governor. He is a first term senator representing Yobe East Senatorial District in the National Assembly. He however came to limelight with a controversial bill he sponsored, asking for amnesty for Boko Haram terrorists. The bill was tagged ‘National Agency for the Education, Rehabilitation, De-radicalization and Integration of repentant insurgents in Nigeria (Establishment) Bill, 2020.’ It is unclear if the backlash he received as a result of the sponsorship of that bill was responsible for Gaidam’s non-contribution to any issue in the Senate. On weekly basis, the law makers engage in debates on security challenges in the country. But despite having experienced first-hand the issue of insecurity in the North East, Sen. Gaidam has largely remained silent during debates on this and other national issues.

Godiya Akwashiki

Sen. Akwashiki is a first time senator but considered a ranking lawmaker having served at the State Hose of Assembly from where he got elected into the National Assembly.He was initially appointed Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs but was switched to the Committee on Labour and Productivity in an early reshuffle. He is representing Nasarawa North Senatorial District at the National Assembly and a member of the APC. Unlike his Nasarawa counterparts, Sen. Akwashiki is missing in action. He doesn’t grant media interviews and his presence during plenary sessions is hardly felt. His bill titled, ‘Federal College of Medical Sciences, Nasarawa Eggon, Nasarawa State, Bill, 2020’, is the only one standing in his name for more than two years in the life of the 9th.

Aliyu Wammako

Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko is a former governor of Sokoto State. A member of the APC and considered as a ranking senator representing Sokoto North Senatorial District. He is also considered as one of the backers of Ahmed Lawan in the race to become President of the Senate. Like other former governors who have retired to Senate, Sen. Wamakko has maintained deafening silence since his reelection in 2019. He rarely contributes to debates, motions and other interventions in the Senate. Sen. Wamakko has not made any contributions to interventions by Senators from the North, especially, the Sokoto state lawmakers, who have raised points of order on the floor of the Senate in 2021 on security challenges and other issues.

Lawali Hassan Anka 

He is representing Zamfara West Senatorial District at the National Assembly. He is a former member of the House of Representatives, serving a first term in the Senate. He was defeated with a wide margin by Abdulaziz Yari, the incumbent governor of the state and APC’s candidate for the senatorial in the 2019 election. However, the court voided votes cast for Yari, ordering that Hassan, the runner-up be sworn in. He has remained in the in the Senate since then but rarely attends plenary sessions and seldom makes contributions to any legislative interventions in the upper chamber. More than two years down the line of the of the 9th Senate, he is yet to sponsor a bill

Barinada Mpigi

A former member of the House Representatives, Senator Barinada Barry Mpigi was elected in 2019 to represent Rivers South East Senatorial District and a member of the PDP. Compared to his counterparts from River State, Sen. Mpigi is not vibrant in the National Assembly so far and therefore makes the list of benchwarmers in senate in 2021.

Peter Nwobaoshi

Senator Peter Nwoboshi, representing Delta North Senatorial District, came into the 9th Senate on the platform to the PDP but later defected to the APC. He is the Chairman Senate Committee on Niger Delta. Compared with his counterparts from Delta State, Sen. Nwobaoshi is seriously missing in action in the upper chamber. He rarely attends plenary session. His presence at the committee level is hardly felt.

Bomai Mohammed

Another Senator who has remained in oblivion since his election in 2019 to represent Yobe South Senatorial District is Sen. Bomai Ibrahim Mohammed. He is a member of the ruling APC a first term Senator. Outside the National Assembly he is considered a vibrant politician but that vibrancy is actually missing in the senate in 2021.

Ibrahim Shekarau

Senator Ibrahim Shekarau is a former governor of Kano State. He is a member of the APC, representing Kano Central Senatorial District at the Senate. He is the Chairman Senate Committee on Establishment. Like other former governors who have retired to Senate, Sen. Shekarau has maintained a deafening silence on national issues brought to the floor of the red chamber. The Kano Central lawmaker is yet to bring a bill to the floor of the Senate since he was sworn-in. He is a prominent member of the class of benchwarmers of the senate in 2021.

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