When senators reconvened after the election break on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, they came with all the drama.
Both chambers of the National Assembly had fixed Tuesday, March 12, 2019, as resumption date after the general elections. Legislative duties were stalled due to the death of Oyo House of Representatives member, Temitope Olatoye Sugar.
At the National Assembly lobby on Wednesday, lawmakers were seen exchanging pleasantries and throwing banters — a sign that they are back. Fully back.
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At 11:22am, exactly one hour and 22 minutes behind the commencement of plenary, Senate President Bukola Saraki would lead principal officers into the hallowed chamber in a matching white “babariga” and cap, just behind the mace bearer. Remember the mace? Yeah, same mace.
Right after the prayers, Saraki went on to take the votes and proceedings of the last sitting, Tuesday. Benue lawmaker, Banabas Gemade moves for approval of the votes and proceedings while commonsense advocate and Bayelsa lawmaker, Ben Murray Bruce seconds.
Saraki then reads a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari seeking the confirmation of nominees into the the board of the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC).
As the Senate President called for lawmakers to submit petitions from their constituents, the mood in the red chamber was already charged.
Akwa Ibom lawmaker, Bassey Akpan introduces a petition from his constituent alleging the connivance of a relative of his colleague, Godswill Akpabio, which led to the arrest and killing of some indigenes during the elections. Saraki soon cuts his off, seeing the sensitive nature of the petition, and asked him to lay the document which was referred to the Committee on Ethics and Privileges.
Next, Philip Aduda, the only lawmaker representing the entire Abuja, brought to the notice of the Senate the alleged illegal conversion of land belonging to FCT natives by Nigerian Army. Lawmakers at the All Progressives Congress (APC) wing began protesting Aduda’s allegations, resulting ina rowdy session whi lasted for about five minutes.
”You should congratulate me over my re-election. APC won the chairmanship seat in the affected area where this petition originated,” Aduda announced.
As Aduda moved to lay his petition, Saraki recognises Dino Melaye who had raised his hands to speak. Such moments are incomplete without Dino’s submission.
After “drawing celestial inspiration” from a relevant session of their rules book, Melaye sought the permission of his colleagues to sponsor a motion that would enable lawmakers debate the alleged militarisation of the 2019 general elections. This was overwhelmingly rejected by the APC senators who saw Melaye’s request as a move to ridicule the APC-led Muhammadu Buhari government owning to the irregularities and pockets of violence in some areas.
Regardless of the rejection, the Senate President, however, ruled in favour of Melaye. When quizzed by the Majority leader, Ahmed Lawan, Saraki explained that their rule says one-fifth support is all a senator needs in such situations. The Senate President assured Lawan that the debate would take into consideration the legal implications of the issue.
Visibly unsatisfied with Saraki’s submission, Lawan takes his seat. Senator Bala Ibn Na’Alla takes to the floor with a joke.
”We cannot take Dino’s point of order because he introduced himself as a senator-elect. This means he is not yet a senator,” he said amidst laughs an arguements on the floor.
When all these was over, time which would have been used to deliberate on other pressing national issues had been lost to unproductive arguments and needless banters.