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Empty Seats As Defeated Senators Shun Assembly


SenateEVENTS are becoming more interesting, or perhaps, worrisome for the 7th Senate as it gradually winds down. Many things appear to be falling apart for the red chamber.

Needless to say that things would have been positively different had the election Tsunami that swept majority of the old members not occurred.

Though many Peoples Democratic Party Senators lost out at the primaries, the impact was not much felt. At least, there were some assurances that the affected members would be sorted out if the PDPD were to return at the centre.

Reality finally dawned on all of them when those who managed to secure tickets massively lost out at the general elections and the hope of their party retaining power at the centre also dashed to pieces.

Since then, majority of sits have remained vacant, as only the strong at heart among the defeated Senators regularly make it to the chambers. Even some of the returnees have shunned the chamber for what they considered more pressing party issues.

In the last one month, the upper legislative house has become a shadow of itself; losing its once vibrant and bubbling character, while the usual radical, but entertaining contributions of such lawmakers as, Senator Smart Adeyemi and Ayogu Eze have given way to long faces.

In fact, there was massive evacuation of their personal belongings from the National Assembly complex last week. About seven cargo vehicles were spotted at the front of the office complex with tables, chairs, rugs, books and portraits that once adorned their office walls being loaded into them.

Fortunately for the country, the issue of quorum has not affected legislation. Bills are read, considered and passed without hitches. Not less than three bills were read the third time and passed last week. They include, National Agency for Great Green Wall (Establishment) Bill 2015, sponsored by the Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba; Oil and Gas Export Free Zones Authority (Amendment) Bill 2015, sponsored by Senator Odion Ugbesia; as well as Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) Amendment bill 2015, sponsored by Senator Bassey Otu.

But while members battle with their personal problems, the Senate as a body is confronted with fresh challenges. One of them being the squabble with the Presidency over Constitution amendment.

Just four days ago, the Supreme Court ordered both the Federal Government and the National Assembly to maintain status quo ante in the suit brought before it by the Attorney-General of the Federation on behalf of the President, seeking to annul the amendments to the Nigerian Constitutional (Fourth Alteration Act 2015).

President Goodluck Jonathan had declined assent to the amendments after the National Assembly passed and transmitted the document to him. Instead, Mr. President had written back to the National Assembly, giving his reasons for not appending his signature to the amendments.

In reaction, the Senate in particular requested for the original copy of the bill that was transmitted to the Presidency. Meanwhile, the court has adjourned the case till June 18 to enable NASS members, who were conspicuously absent in court last Thursday to be served notice and therefore be present at the hearing.

With this 7th National Assembly terminating on June 3, it is now obvious that the case would be one of the first inheritances of the next Assembly. But while the cold war rages, some senators, who spoke to The Guardian have vowed to veto the bill should Mr. President trouble them further. How fast this threat would be executed remains a serious concern.

As if to sympathise with lawmakers on their many afflictions, power outage has become a regular occurrence, sometimes, disrupting proceedings. Sources close to the National Assembly Service Commission said the Commission was highly indebted to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

Hence, the Commission resorted to the use of generating set to power the entire National Assembly complex. But it was not clear why the management has chosen to embarrass lawmakers by regularly interrupting power during legislative sessions. Perhaps, it was their own subtle way of informing them that all is not well.

But in all of this, members of the All Progressives Congress were not moved. In fact, they are enveloped in the struggle for the next leadership of the Senate.

The contenders include, Senator Danjuma Goje (Gombe State, North East); Ali Ndume (Borno State, North East); Ahmed Lawan (Yobe State, North East); Bukola Saraki, (Kwara State, North Central); Goerge Akume, (Benue, North Central) and Abdulahi Adamu, (Nasarawa, North Central).

Without doubt, the 7th Senate would be remembered for its political maturity and intrigues, but from all indications, the 8th promises to be more intriguing. Only time will tell, however, what the 8th Senate holds in store for the electorate.

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