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Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, seemed to have stirred the hornet nest when he urged Nigerians to judge the 8th Senate by its achievements and facts and not by sentiments or propaganda. With the expectations of Nigerians from the Red Chamber so high, Nigerians are beginning to wonder if it has really performed or not.
‘Senate Has No Term Of Reference’
Hon. Victor Osarenren, an activist and former Chairman of Uhunmwode local Government of Edo State, maintained that Nigerians should not be expecting much from the Upper Legislative Chamber as the senators were not given any terms of reference or goals they should meet.
He however maintained that during a change of baton of leadership, peoples’ expectations for changes, growth and improvement in their living conditions are usually very high. According to him, “From our past experience over the years, people’s expectations appear vague and unarticulated.”
He asked: “How many constituents have called their representatives’ attention to the lawmakers’ weaknesses or shortcomings? As it is often said, people get the kind of representation or leadership that they deserve, wittingly or unwittingly.
“I remain steadfast in my belief that Nigerians should be on red alert and proactive all the time, bearing in mind that they are the custodians of the mandate exercised by the executive and the legislative arms of government in a democratic setting.”
Senate Has Underperformed – Activist
Comrade Alagoa Morris, a Niger Delta-based human rights activist, has picked holes in Senator Abduallahi’s claims, saying “the Senate has not done anything that could be described as fantastic and people-oriented.”
He said the activities of the Upper House have promoted self-aggrandisement among the senators, as they do not address the socio-economic challenges faced by Nigerians. Morris, Head of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Bayelsa State office, contended that some of the bills and resolutions passed by the Senate have justified the people’s lack of confidence in the Red Chamber.
According to him, “The Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) passed by the Senate failed to address the issue of communities, as stakeholders in line with the solid minerals industry laws. While the independence of the legislature and non-interference by the executive is most necessary, the recent constitution amendments exercise by the Senate depict the lawmakers as very selfish, as they deny the Nigerian people what they want and approve things which favoured the legislators more, even as they try to pluck the feathers of the President.
“While the pronouncement on Local Government Autonomy came as a great news and relief, but for not addressing the issues of true federalism and restructuring, I don’t think the Senate fared well. As a federal system, the centre ought not to be conducting itself as if we are operating a unitary system of government.”
‘So Many Things Are Wrong With The Senate’
Junaid Mustapha, a grassroots politician thinks that for a Senate dominated by the ruling party, so many things have gone wrong. He stated that although the upper chamber is tries to maintain a high sense of maturity in the way it relates with the executive, it is insensitive to the plight of Nigerians.
He said: “There is hunger in the land; people are losing their jobs and means of livelihood every day. The Senate cannot pretend as if all is well.”
People Should Not Expect Too Much From This Senate – Activist
Aderibigbe Adebiyi, an activist, believes the Senate is doing its constitutionally assigned duties of making laws for Nigeria and Nigerians and as such people should not expect too much from it. He said: “If we must scrutinise, let us look at the Executive arm of government, which has crippled governance because some criminals are holding the country by its jugular.
“Every sector of the economy is in trouble and we are talking about the Senate. One day soon, Nigerians will take to the streets in protest. Mark my words.”
I doff my hat for the Senate – LP Chieftain
Chief Eddie Onyedimma Osuji, a chieftain Labour Party (LP), said: “The Senate we have now cannot be dismissed as a failure when it comes to internal cohesion and discipline. They are statutorily saddled with the responsibility to make laws. But, some people who are not properly informed would expect them to provide basic amenities and jobs for the youths, which are the responsibilities of the executive arm of the government.
“Despite isolated pockets of shortcomings, I doff my hat for the senators. Remember the cases of the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali, and that of the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, and how the Senate effectively and courageously handled them. I love that.”
‘Saraki’s Senate Has Not Met Nigerians’ Expectations’
Chief Nnenna Florence Ibeadighnso, PDP Woman Leader, said that the Bukola Saraki-led Senate has not met the expectations of Nigerians at all. He said: “I challenge Senator Abdullahi to prove me wrong. Which area has the Senate excelled since their inauguration?
“Remember that the senate is still battling to clear itself of allegations of buying exotic bulletproof cars for the lawmakers, which ran into billions of Naira. Is that an achievement?”
‘The Current Senate Made History’
Mr. Nawani Aboki, former LP 2011 governorship candidate in Nasarawa State and Director, Centre for Women, Youth and Community Action (NAWYCA), said: “The Senate as constituted today have passed I think about total of 96 bills and handled 72 petitions.
“The current Senate made history for being the first to prioritise, promote and patronise made-in-Nigeria goods, thereby bringing to an end capital flight common among government officials to the detriments of locally manufactured alternatives; passage of Petroleum Industry Governance Bill; Electronic Transaction Bill 2015; Debt Recovery and Insolvency Bill 2015; Railway Bill which is at its final stage.
“All these bills represent a watershed in economic and business legislations in Nigeria. The 8th Senate also gave line-by-line details of its expenditure, taking a radical departure from previous years. The current Senate took decision on several contending national issues and amendments.
“We have less of in-fighting among them; quality debates based on Nigerian’s interests and not on party interests and above all and taking stand on some controversial national issues.
“However, the 8th Senate still has much to do in the area of administration by making sure that Nigerians benefit from leaders and not the other way round, whereby leaders spend hard earned monies of Nigerian taxpayers on personal trivialities.”
This Senate Has Failed Nigerians – Cleric
Bishop Seun Adeoye of the Sufficient Grace and Truth Church Ministry, Osogbo, said the Senate under Bukola Saraki has failed and disappointed Nigerians greatly and contributed to the hardship currently facing the people by their actions and inactions.
Adeoye maintained that the body language of the current Senate shows that the lawmakers are not patriotic and committed to the cause of Nigerians, but to their pockets and zeal for political powers.
He maintained that the character of the senators have not shown the seriousness and leadership Nigerians deserve.
Adeoye tackled the current senate for leaving many important national issues unattended to due to sentiments.
He added: “They are busy following the Senate President, Bukola Saraki in their large number to his trial before the Bureau of Code of Conduct Tribunal on perceived criminal cases that is of no benefit to Nigerians. Who they are representing?”
The cleric added that what the current Senate is doing on the constitutional amendments had been attended to by the previous Senate.
He said that the Senate has failed to address the issue of economic challenges, but is interested in members’ wellbeing, lining their pockets and buying new cars for themselves at bogus prices, stressing that the constitutional amendment they are doing is sectional and bias.
He said: “The Senate has failed to address the issue of devolution of power to states, while the issues of controversial immunity clauses and their bogus allowance that is killing the economy are left unattended to.”