There was a mild drama at the Senate, on Tuesday, when Senator Aishatu Ahmed Dahiru Binani (Adamawa Central) referred to Bayelsa as one of the smallest states in Nigeria.
Senator Binani, while advancing argument in support of her bill to establish Federal Medical Centre in Mubi, Adamawa, said the town has a total land mass of 506.4km2 and population of 759,045.
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“This together with the population of Mubi North makes it 2,089,540 people (very much higher than Bayelsa State’s eight Local Government Areas, with a population of 1,704,515).
“Nonetheless, this historic town has suffered from government neglect in terms of federal presence especially in the area of tertiary healthcare delivery,” she said.
But her submission did not go down well with Senator Seriake Dickson (PDP, Bayelsa), who argued that the size of Bayelsa — the physical land mass and the water bodies — is three times bigger than some states in the country.
He said Binani could make her case without reference to Bayelsa.
Dickson said, “In my Senatorial Senatorial district, it will take me four days to go round. In my local government, Sagbama, it will take me three days to go round.
“I just felt I should rise up to enlighten the sponsor of this bill and by so doing the rest of the country.
“When people talk about population, they should be careful, because if you go deep and ask who conducted the census, who verified, what and what are counted, who are the residence and how justifiable.”
Lawan cautioned Dickson
Senate President Ahmad Lawan interjected and cautioned Dickson against inputting improper motives to the debate.
“Apparently, I have to guide this contribution because you have made your point and, giving our standing orders, we shouldn’t impute improper motives on the submission by our colleagues.
“The discussion is not on the population of Bayelsa or population censors conducted before, we should rather concentrate on the main focus, which is on the establishment of federal medical centre.
“I agree that there are many questions people will like to raise, but I think the essence of this debate is to focus on the general principles and the merits of the bill,” Lawan said.
But Dickson reiterated his point that “debates and the submissions in this hallowed chamber must be based on justifiable fact, arguing that Binani referred to population figures which were not verifiable.
“I was only rising up to enlighten, without prejudice to the merits or demerits of the bill, that the premise that she has put forward as a reason or one of the reasons why this bill should be considered is faulty. That should be expunged, it should not form part of it. That is not factual, it is incorrect,” Dickson said.
Again, Lawan cautioned Dickson against reducing the debate to reaction to comments.
“I’m sure that is the way you rounded off and let me also say that when you have an opportunity like this, what you do is, if you feel and convince that there is an erroneous presentation, you simply bring out the fact, that this is wrong and this is correct.
“We don’t have to come down and reduce the debate to reaction. You were in the House of Representatives before you became a governor, I’m very sure you are very conversant with our process here. We don’t input improper motives to debates or contributions or interventions by our colleagues,” Lawan told Dickson.
The bill was passed for second reading after a voice vote.