OrderPaperToday – On the 13th of October 2021, Senate President Ahmad Lawan reconstituted Senate Committees’ leadership and membership. He made the announcement moments before the red chamber adjourned plenary for the 2021/2022 budget defence exercise.
Following the reconstitution of the committees by Lawan, OrderPaper Nigeria spotlights leaders and some members of the panels, highlights their performance at midterm, and presents expectations in their new roles for the rest of the 9th assembly senate.
The mandate of lawmakers is to make laws, carry out representational roles, and perform oversight over government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). This mandate, especially on the latter function, is statutorily exercised in smaller units of the legislature known as committees. These committees are created in line with the existing mandates of MDAs as spelt out in section 62(1) of the 1999 constitution and the standing orders and rules book of each chamber.
The current senate has 69 committees that consist of their respective chairpersons, vice-chairpersons and members. These committees largely liaise with the respective (MDAs) and this could include oversight visits, providing legislative support and policies, visits to ongoing federal projects, budget defence hearings, and investigations, among others.
Consequently, with the 2022 budget defence hearings already afoot, it is expected that these newly appointed committee leaders and members will swing right into action.
Below are the men and women of the red chamber with the new garbs:
Sen. Sahabi Alhaji Ya’u (APC, Zamfara North): Chairman, Committee on National Population and National Identity –
This spot was previously occupied by Sen. Saidu Ahmed Alkali, who has been shuffled to chair another committee. Ya’u is a long time serving lawmaker who has been in the senate since 2007. He had sponsored five bills at midterm of the 9th assembly, making the top performer on the Zamfara senate bills scorecard. The bills he sponsored are on establishing schools and health centres and to repeal and re-enact the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Act 2010. None of these bills had been passed by midterm. However, more is expected from him given the responsibility of the committee he now chairs. In this regard, it is notable that the last population census carried out in Nigeria by the National Population Commission (NPC) was in 2006. Therefore, there will be expectations on the Ya’u led committee as the nation looks to ascertain the accurate population statistics. For instance, it will go a long way in enabling the National Assembly to delineate electoral constituencies ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Sen. Mukhail Adetokunbo Abiru (APC, Lagos East): Chairman Committee on Industry – Abiru is a new member of the senate, having replaced the late Sikiru Adebayo Osinowo.
With the reconstitution of committee leadership by Lawan, he also takes over from the late Osinowo as chairman of the committee. Despite just assuming office in December 2020, he was able to sponsor five bills at midterm. His bills cover sectors such as financial crimes, judiciary, health and education. However, none of his bills had been passed as at midterm. As the chairman, committee on industry, more productive inputs will be expected from him in the areas of matters directly and principally relating to intellectual property rights, patents, trade names and trademarks, standards, weights and measures, designs, quality control, consumer protection, prices and marketing of commodities, handicrafts and cottage industries, and the development, regulation and diversification of industry and investments. This is given that the inflation rate within the country continues to fluctuate.
Sen. Saidu Ahmed Alkali (APC, Gombe North): Chairman, Committee on Trade and Investments – The late Sen. Rose Oko previously chaired this committee.
At midterm, the Gombe lawmaker had two bills- one at committee and the other at 1st reading stage. He has been in the senate for long, having emerged as consensus candidate for the PDP following the death of Sen. Kawu Peto Dukku in April 2010. Given his political and legislative experience therefore, much is expected from him. While his bill sponsorship at midterm may not be up to par, as the committee on trade and investments chair, the spotlight will be on him to deliver. Thus, Nigerians will expect to see a push for more favourable and cost-effective domestic and foreign trade policies. Likewise, international bilateral trade agreements that serve the best interest of the country.
Sen. Kabir Abdullahi Barkiya (APC, Katsina Central): Chairman Committee on Inter-Parliamentary Affairs –
The Committee previously was chaired by Sen. Godiya Akwashiki (APC, Nassrawa North). As at midterm, Barkiya had two Bills to his name. Both of which were at the committee stage. These bills are on education and employment. As chair of the committee on inter-parliamentary affairs, it is expected that the 9th Senate can build stronger state, national and international parliamentary inter-relationships for effective governance.
Sen. Henry Seriake Dickson (PDP, Bayelsa West): Vice-Chairman Committee on Interior and Member, Committee on Appropriations –
The former governor of Bayelsa was yet to sponsor a bill at the time of our NASS midterm reporting. However, considering that the nation is in its budget season, Nigerians expect a thorough job on the 2022 budget, mainly to ensure detailed scrutiny and implementation across sectors. As vice chairman of the committee on interior, much is also expected of him given the myriad of security challenges currently facing the country.
Sen. Biodun Christine Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti South): Member, Committee on Appropriations – During the NASS midterm reports, Olujimi had five bills, three of which were at the committee stage and two at the first reading stage.
Her bills covered areas on gender, education, health and finance. As one of the few female lawmakers in the senate, it is expected that she continues to push for gender-related issues. Also, as a member of the committee on appropriations, she is expected to make vibrant contributions during the 2022 budget defence sessions in a manner that could promote gender-based budgeting.
Sen. Tolulope Akinremi Odebiyi (APC, Ogun West): Vice Chairman, Committee on Marine Transport –
Another new member to the Senate, he has sponsored ten bills at midterm. These bills cover education, food tech, and finance. He also had an interesting bill on plastic bags management and prohibition. Also, his bill on National Institute for Border Studies Imeko has been passed. As the new vice-chair of the committee on marine transport, it would be interesting to see the steps he takes towards bringing to life an underperforming marine transport system.
Sen. Ramoni Olalekan Mustapha (APC, Ogun East): Vice Chairman, INEC – He takes over from Sen. Ya’u, who now chairs the committee on national population and national identity.
The lawmaker first came into the senate in 2007 but failed to be re-elected in the next term. Returning in the 9th Senate, he sponsored five bills at midterm. As a vice-chairman of the committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), there is no gainsaying that he has his work cut out for him. This is considering the fact that the electoral act amendment bill is still in the balance; and the 2023 general elections are around the corner.
Sen. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe (PDP, Cross River North): Vice-Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs – Jarigbe only just got sworn into the Senate last month.
This is after the ruling by the Court of Appeal that saw him replace Stephen Odey as the third senator to represent Cross River North in the current 9th senate. Thus, as a newbie in senate, while the remainder of his term might be barely up to two years, his constituents will expect some impact from him. Therefore, as he takes on his role in the committee on foreign affairs, Nigerians in the diaspora will be particularly interested in seeing if the policies he pushes is in their best interest.
Sen. Moses Cleopas Zuwoghe (PDP, Bayelsa-Central): Vice Chairman, National Planning and Economic Affairs – He takes over this committee position from Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, who is the current Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State.
Interestingly, Zuwoghe also replaced the incumbent governor of Bayelsa, Duoye Diri and was yet to sponsored a bill at midterm. With the 2022 budget tagged as the budget of economic growth and sustainability, a lot is expected from this committee to help sustain the January to December budget cycle. While this has placed on government the task of devising a means of ensuring sustainability and smooth implementation of the 2020 budget, it also tasks the committee to ensure that the government creates a means of attaining sustainability and smooth performance of the 2020 budget.
Sen. Frank Chukwuma Ibezim (APC, Imo North): Vice Chairman, Committee on Industry – Also a newbie to the Senate, Ibezim replaced the late Benjamin Uwajumogu.
At midterm, he had not sponsored any bill. As a newbie and with this new committee assignment, it is expected that Ibezim goes all out to prove himself as a performing and productive lawmaker.
Sen. Nora Ladi Daduut (APC, Plateau South): Vice Chairman, Committee on Culture and Tourism –
As a newbie to the Senate, Daduut replaced the late Sen. Datong Longjan, who was also previously vice-chair of the committee. The Plateau lawmaker is yet to sponsor a bill. She adds to a small number of 9th Assembly female senators, which is currently eight. Thus coupled with committee leadership appointment, all eyes are on her contributions and performance in the 9th Senate. Also, considering the negative light in which other nationalities view Nigeria and Nigerians, it is expected that Daduut’s Committee will charge agencies such as the National Orientation Agency to promote the nation in the right light.
Sen. Degi-Biobarakuma Eremieyo Wangagra (APC, Bayelsa-East): Member, Committee on Appropriation –
He is the only one remaining of the initial trio of Bayelsa senators that were inaugurated into the 9th Assembly in June 2019. As at midterm, he had sponsored four bills, none of which had been passed. However, like his other counterparts in the appropriations committee, there will be expectations on him per the budget passage and implementation process.