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The Senate lately…

Section 4, sub section (2) of the 1999 constitution states that “the National Assembly shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and…

Section 4, sub section (2) of the 1999 constitution states that “the National Assembly shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the federation or any part thereof with respect to any matter included in the executive list set out in part I of the second schedule to this constitution.

Lately, the Senate has generated a lot of controversies which has helped in denigrating and ridiculing it as an institution. The Senate is the highest legislative office in the country. Therefore, the upper chamber ought to show decency, decorum and dignity in all its activities. The Senate should be an embodiment of responsibility with high regards to National Interest.

Of recent, what the Senate has been doing is just stalling the progress of the nation and settling scores at the detriment of Nigerians; this is antithetical to their responsibility as spelt out in the constitution.

Nigerians cannot sit down and keep watching our leaders fumble; we have to criticise this recent behaviour.  Constructive criticism makes a vibrant democracy.

In another development, Senator Ndume was suspended for six months because he drew the attention of the Senate that it is being ridiculed because of Saraki and Dino. The Senate is to investigate and not Ndume. The suspension was unfair.

President Muhammadu Buhari sent the names of Resident Electoral Commissioners to the Senate for confirmation. The Senate postponed their screening for two weeks since Magu is still acting as EFCC chairman. This is a shame. The prerogative of hiring and firing the EFCC boss lies with the president so in respect to separation of powers they should allow the president to decide. Nigerians have rated Magu’s performance as outstanding there is no genuine reason why he should not be confirmed or cease acting as EFCC boss.  All what we see is corruption fighting back.

The Senate latched on a security report provided by DSS which released two contradictory reports signed by one person with the same reference number.

Though the senators said Magu was rejected because his performance at the screening was not convincing. This man is a police officer. His work does not require oratory skills; already he has proven to Nigerians that he detests corruption. His work is to recover looted funds and hand it over to Federal Government – not to mention the figures.  Disclosing the amount recovered by anti-graft agencies is a political statement. So, the information ministry and presidency should be in charge of that.

Also, the Senate summoned the Comptroller General (CG) of Nigerian Customs Services (NCS), Col Hameed Ali (rtd), after a directive by the agency. He has reviewed the decision. He soft-pedaled. Yet, the senate asked him to appear before them in customs uniform. Despite his achievements the new policy by customs did not go down well with a lot of Nigerians. The Senate did a good job in intervening so he suspended the policy and appeared in mufti. The Senate asked him to go and come back in appropriate uniform the following week. He has not been wearing uniform since he was appointed. But he has done great and has generated a lot for the Federal Government.

Reports say that Hameed Ali generated N903bn in 213 days while Dikko Inde generated N2bn in 3 years.

He has brought sanity and discipline back to the NCS. Another remarkable feat is the interception of pump-action arms under his watch. Heaven knows the lives these rifles would have cut down if allowed into the country.

What the Senate failed to understand is that Uniform na Cloth according to Fela. This man has been good without uniform. His officers respect him and they perform their duties. The uniform does not work but the man behind the uniform does. His performance is better than that of his predecessor who always wore uniform. I am of the belief that most Nigerians sided with the CG because of the lethargic performance of our Senate.

A lawyer sued the senate that it lacks power the power to compel Col Ali (rtd) to wear uniform; the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) was joined in the suit. The CG wrote the red chamber that he would not appear before them; (AGF) also wrote the Senate that they should stay all actions until the matter is resolved in a court of law.

The AGF is the number one legal officer in the country so it is one of his duties offering legal advise to all arms of government. As a defendant in the case, the AGF did not tamper with the separation of powers as wrongly alleged by the senators. If the senate disregards the fact that the case is in court it will be akin to impunity, which will not portend well for democracy. For the highest lawmaking body of the nation to treat a court with contempt will be a sad miscalculation. Eventually, the Senate recommended for Col Ali’s sack because he did not honour their invitation.

Unfortunately, since the senate did not hire him then it cannot fire him. The case of Hameed Ali and Magu did not make life better for Nigerians.

While this happened people were being killed at Ile-Ife and the senate did nothing and the budget has not been passed. The number one concern of the Senate should be the budget. The delay in budget passing will stall progress and development of this nation. Without budget developmental projects cannot be carried out, some families cannot eat, pay school fees, hospital bills, etc.

There is a powerful bloc in the Senate whenever you touch them the next thing that happens you get summoned. Danladi Umar, AGF, SGF, Hameed Ali all had issues with this bloc. Magu is not exempted from this list EFCC discovered a fraud in the Paris Club Fund a member of this bloc has been fingered already.

Lately Nigerians have been calling for the scrapping of the senate due to lack of performance, scores settling, attack on credible people and frustrating governance. Nigerians are not happy with the fact that legislators consume 25% of our budget. This behaviour by the senate is retrogressive and undemocratic. They are busy protecting self-interest forgetting that Nigerian interest is above all.

It is high time the Senate started debating on crucial bills like appropriation bill, Petroleum Industry Bill and PMB’s anti-corruption bill.

The Senate should always put national interest above all. We young Nigerians look up to some of you and we do not want history to misjudge our role models.

All arms of government should perform well; history is always on the side of the oppressed. May God increase our leaders in wisdom, may He help them in taking us to the “promised land” and I pray that they become determined, dedicated and devoted to their jobs so that life will be better for the masses.

Muhammad wrote this piece from Kaduna


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