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The 8th Senate: Battle Ground For The Rich, Mighty, Radicals

By Bridget Chiedu Onochie, Abuja
03 May 2015   |   6:32 am
LAST week was a busy one for the 7th Senate. Activities began as early as Sunday evening with the arrival of newly elected federal legislators from across the country

SenateLAST week was a busy one for the 7th Senate. Activities began as early as Sunday evening with the arrival of newly elected federal legislators from across the country.

Although, May 29 hand-over date is still weeks away, it was imperative for incoming lawmakers to be prepared for the task ahead. Thus, National Institute of Legislative Studies (NILS) organised a four-day induction certificate course on legislative studies.

It is no longer news that out of 109 Senators in the 7th Senate, only 33 of them were re-elected. Same high rate of turnover also hit the House of Representatives where only 59 Honourable members are returning, putting the figure of new ones at 301.

This development paints a clearer picture of the need for an intensive training for newly elected lawmakers if the 8th Senate is to make quality impact; though, most of them have legislated at state level.

However, the thrust of the matter is that judging from the faces of participants at the induction exercise, one cannot, but agree that the 8th National Assembly would be an interesting one.

While most of the Honourable members-elect are young, unassuming and vibrant-looking, their counterparts for the red chamber are elderly, more relaxed, political big wigs, business moguls and activists.

Among them are, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, Abia State Governor (Ochendo Global) Theordore Orji, former Delta State Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, Barrister Peter Nwaoboshi and the Honourable member, Dino Melaye. Others are, former Ebonyi State Governor, Sam Egwu, former Minister, Federal Capital Territory, Jeremiah Oseni, Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang, former director, Nigerian Television Authority and owner of Silverbird group, Ben Maury Bruce, former Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Odua and the Kano State-born human right activist, Sani Shehu.

Also interesting is the fact that most of these big wigs would be playing opposition in the chamber and when confronted with equally experienced and radical colleagues in the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, one only prays it will not be a case of two elephants fight and the grass suffering.

While accepting that the exercise has greatly impacted them, the lawmakers-elect expressed their mindsets as they warm up for actions. Melaye, for instance, will champion salary cut when he gets to the Senate.

For him, it is a sacrifice lawmakers must undertake to reduce cost of governance. He said: “I’m actually championing the cause of a cut in our pay. There is need to cut it down because, if we talk about change, there is the need to demonstrate it.

We must make sacrifices as legislators. Senator Samuel Anyanwu (Imo East) has been legislating at the state level and the induction course was not new to him as same house rules apply at both state and federal levels.

He has promised robust representation for his people. He also believe PDP playing opposition would be an interesting scenario. “My constituents should expect very robust representation.

My people elected me from the House of Assembly to the Senate because they recognised my competence, knowledge and experience in legislative business.

“It is understandable that the PDP will be a minority in the National Assembly but I believe that the party will form a strong opposition. We will do our best not to truncate the economy of this country .

We are going to ensure that peace and unity of this country still remains, yet we must play our roles,”Anyanwu said. Nwaoboshi commended organisers of the induction.

According to him, the exercise had further prepared him for the task ahead. For the people of Delta North, the Senator-elect pledged to reciprocate their votes with effective representation.

An Honourable-elect representing Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency, Amaechi Mrakpor, was concerned about likely poor representation of women in the 8th National Assembly.

She regretted that rather than come out and contest among men, most women thought power would be given to them on a platter of gold on account of their gender.

“As women like power, so also the men. Women have to come out and compete for elective positions among the men. Nobody will willingly dash power to the women simply because they are women.

They must show their readiness to work”, she said. The induction exercise culminated in a dinner with the Senate President, David Mark, on Thursday evening. Afterwards, he would be meeting with the PDP caucus.

Believe me, the power play may have just started and as Nigerians patiently await the handover date of May 29, all eyes are on PDP to see how best they play the opposition, that is if they do not all defect to APC in a swift.