Aside the announcement on live television a couple of days ago by Senate President Godswill Akpabio to his colleagues that, “In order to enable all of us to enjoy our holiday, a token has been sent to our various accounts by the clerk of the national assembly”, the Senate was relatively ‘quiet’ during the period – after the ministerial confirmation sittings.
Many of us have come to regard these misfiring, loose cannons and tongues from the big shots of the Nigerian Senate as a ‘normal’ thing, save for the fact that such utterances tend to make the citizens lose focus of what they expect from the lawmakers. After all the noise over the video, especially on social media and TV, ‘All is Quiet on The Western Front’, according to our old movie! Nothing will come out of it so let’s forget we ever heard it. Let them enjoy their holiday. They have adjourned till September.
Well, I said above that things were relatively quiet, at least the same Senate President released the list of Standing Committees and their Chairmen which we expect and hope will make the Red Chamber be in full swing in facing the task of making laws, approving executive appointments and performing the oversight functions as detailed in the constitution.
The Committee Chairmen join the list of the presiding officers earlier
announced for the Chamber.
The Senate is one of the two chambers of the Nigeria’s National Assembly that make up the Bicameral Legislature. It is popularly known as the Red Chamber in Nigeria. The Senate is made up of 109 duly elected Senators representing Nigeria’s 109 Senatorial Districts.
The formation of the Chamber is based on three Senatorial Districts per State and one for the Federal Capital Territory. It is presided over by the President of the Senate and assisted by the Deputy President of the Senate. Senator Godswill Akpabio, representing Akwa Ibom North-West is the President of the 10th Senate while Senator Ibrahim Jibrin is Deputy Senate President. He represents Kano North.
They are assisted by eight Principal Officers – Majority Leader, Deputy Majority Leader, Minority Leader, Deputy Minority Leader, Chief Whip, Deputy Chief Whip, Minority Whip and Deputy Minority Whip – and several Committee Chairmen and Vice Chairmen. The eight Principal Officers have already emerged for this 10th Senate, with four majority leaders representing the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, while the minority leaders are from different opposition parties.
The Majority Leaders are:
1. Opeyemi Bamidele – Senate Majority Leader (Ekiti Central, APC)
2. Dave Umahi – Deputy Majority Leader (Ebonyi South, APC)
3. Ali Ndume – Chief Whip (Borno South, APC)
4. Lola Ashiru – Deputy Whip (Kwara South, APC)
Minority leaders are:
1. Mwadkwon Davou – Senate Minority Leader (Plateau North, PDP)
2. Kamorudeen Olarere – Deputy Minority Leader (Osun West, PDP)
3. Darlington Nwokeocha – Senate Minority Whip (Abia Central, LP)
4. Rufai Hanga – Deputy Minority Whip (Kano Central, NNPP)
The Senate is constitutionally vested with the power of making laws for the peace, order and good governance of the Federation. Similarly, it is empowered to represent the interest, yearnings, aspirations and wellbeing of the citizenry. Also, it is saddled with the power of scrutinizing public institutions and officials to ensure probity and accountability in governance and is expected to intervene in matters of urgent national interest like insecurity, epidemic, drought, poverty, illiteracy, flood and other national issues. It can also intervene in resolving disputes between the government and labour unions with a view to usher in industrial harmony and stabilize the nation’s polity.
The Red Chamber equally has a unique function of impeachment of the President, Vice President, Federal Judges and other high officials of the Executive arm, including the Auditor General, Members of the Independent National Electoral Commission and Federal Inland Revenue Commission.
The Senate confirms the President’s Nominations of Senior Diplomats, Members of the Federal Cabinet, Federal Judicial Appointments, members of the Electoral Commission, and so on.
In discharging its Constitutional mandate, Section 62 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria (1999) empowers the Senate and the House of Representatives to appoint Committees of special and general purpose as may be considered expedient. Accordingly, members of the Senate are distributed into various Committees for the smooth discharge of their legislative duties.
Last Monday the chairmen of the 79 full-standing committees of the 10th Senate were announced by the Senate President. Some Committees are regarded as juicy and tend to be targeted by members for obvious reasons. But do not lose sight of the fact that the Senators are expected to serve the people. We are waiting for the full service of the Senators in the 10th Senate.
There are citizens who think that 79 Committee Chairmen out of 109 Senators does not make sense. It means almost everyone is a Committee Chairman, except 30! Well, what do we know?