The Parliament Diary

 By Toffa Momoh

Nigeria operates a bi-cameral legislature, comprising the Senate and the House of Representatives that functions as the nation’s highest legislative body. The legislature is an important arm of government that can be described as the assembly of the representatives of the people. It is the heart beat of democracy to the extent that an appropriate aphorism reads “no legislature, no democracy.”

The Senate consists of 109 elected senators and the House of Representatives has 360 elected members.

The National Assembly is empowered to make laws by the provisions of Chapter I, Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution.

The 9th National Assembly was inaugurated on 11 June 2019 following the expiration of the eighth National Assembly consisting of the Senate led by Dr Bukola Saraki and the House of Representatives headed by Hon. Yakubu Dogara, a momentous era of feisty Legislative – Executive relationship came to an end on Thursday, June 6, 2019, as President Muhammadu Buhari formally dissolved it in line with constitutional provisions.

EIGTH (8th) National Assembly

Inaugurated on June 9, 2015, the 8th National Assembly functions until June 9 when President Muhammadu Buhari issues a proclamation letter for the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly.

The politics of the 8th Senate and the events that shaped its life are tied to how Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki emerged its president amid serious opposition from his former party, the All-Progressives Congress (APC).

In fact, the coalitionist nature of the APC was such that all the political parties and associations that dissolved into it were desperate to have their share of powerful positions soon after it captured political power at the Centre.

The defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) took the position of the Vice President, after the equally defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) produced President Muhammadu Buhari, and then All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) took the chairmanship of the party.

However, a crisis set in when the then New Peoples’ Democratic Party (N-PDP), made up of prominent politicians that defected from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) to join the APC began to fear their possible marginalization.

The group at the end of the day outwitted the APC to hijack the leadership of the National Assembly. But the euphoria of Saraki’s victory did not last for long, as the APC used its executive powers to subject him to all sorts of political witch-hunt, including a lengthy Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) trial.

The episodes that followed were not without some negative impacts on the activities and operations of the Senate.

Apart from attacks from outside, some senators who felt sad about the political losses they incurred in the power play that produced Saraki as Senate President also kicked both in the open and in the dark.

For instance, all members of the Unity Forum, an umbrella body of all those who worked for, and supported Ahmed Lawan against Saraki gave the Senate leadership a lot of trouble until there was a massive shakeup in committee chairmanship arrangements with which the senate leadership made peace with members. However, political analysts note that the 8th National Assembly was shrouded in political intrigues and controversies since its inception, the development they describe as a threat to democracy.

The threat became a reality when Saraki and Dogara decided to defect to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2018 even as members of the opposition PDP attempted to impeach them.

Analysts observe further that the leadership tussle in the National Assembly has impacted negatively on governance as policies and programmes of the government are affected.

They cite the instance of the approval of most key appointees of Buhari being delayed by the lawmakers and the foot-dragging debate on budget bills, among others.

Acknowledging some shortcomings of the 8th National Assembly, Buhari said that he looked forward to a mutual and effective working relationship with the 9th National Assembly.

According to him, such an effective working relationship will improve the budgetary process and restore the country to the January-December fiscal cycle.

The president recounted how the delay in the passage of budgets hindered timely execution of some projects across the country.

Buhari, nonetheless, expressed confidence that more work would be done to improve the efficiency of the budgetary process with the victory of the All-Progressives Congress (APC) in the general elections.

He also recalled that the 2018 budget proposals submitted to the National Assembly on Nov. 7, 2017 were passed after seven months.

In spite of this, however, observers note that the House of Representatives was able to initiate and pass milestone bills within the legislative years.

They note that out of 1, 516 bills so far treated at the House of Representatives between June 2015 and January 2019, members of the House of Representatives sponsored not less than 1, 380 bills.

One of the outstanding bills passed by the lower chamber is a Bill for an Act to Alter the Provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and for Other Matters Connected Therewith sponsored by Rep. Tony Nwulu, otherwise known as the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill.

The bill, which drew local and international attention, was signed into law by Buhari on May 31, 2018 at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa in the presence of some young Nigerians, the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement.

The law reduces the age qualification for president from 40 years to 35 years, governor from 35 years to 30 years, senator from 35 years to 30 years; House of Representatives membership from 30 years to 25 years and State House of Assembly membership from 30 years to 25 years.

Another outstanding bill passed entitled: “Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities (Prohibition) Bill 2018’’ is meant to cater for the more than 25 million persons living with disabilities in the country.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Ochiglegor Idagbo and was signed into law by Buhari on Jan. 23, a few days to 2019 general elections.

The Act, which guarantees right to maintain civil action for damage by the person injured against any defaulter, prohibits all forms of discrimination on grounds of disability and imposes fine of N1, 000, 000 for corporate bodies and N100, 000 for individuals or a term of six months imprisonment for violation.

It also provides for a five-year transitional period within which public buildings, structures or automobiles are to be modified to be accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, including those on wheelchairs.

The Act, which stipulates that all public organisations are to reserve at least five per cent of employment opportunities for these persons, also establishes in Section 31 the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities with Executive Secretary as the head.

The Whistle Blowers Protection Bill is another important bill the lower house deliberated on.

The bill, which was co-sponsored by Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila and Rep. Kayode Oladele, seeks to facilitate and encourage the disclosure of improper conduct by persons, public officers and corporate bodies whether private and public.

It is also to ensure adequate protection of whistleblowers from reprisals, victimisation, isolation and humiliation which are said to be some of the consequences of whistle-blowing.

Other bills passed include the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, 2016, Terrorism Bill, 2015 Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill, 2015, National Minimum Wage Act (Amendment) Bill, 2015, National Broadcasting Commission Act (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and North East Development Commission Bill, 2015.

Fiscal Responsibility (Amendment) Bill, 2015, Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2015, Appropriation Act (Amendment) Bill, 2015, National Council of Traditional Rulers Bill, 2015, Utilities Charges Commission Act (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and National Identity Management Commission Act (Amendment) Bill, 2015 are also passed.

Similarly, the House of Representatives legislated on National Inland Waterways Authority Bill, 2015, Pension Reform Act (Amendment) Bill, 2016, Nigerian Postal Service Act (Amendment) Bill, 2016, National Agency for Albinism and Hypo-Pigmentation Act (Establishment) Bill, 2016 and Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018.

It is also worthy of note that within the 2015 and 2019 legislative calendar, some members have had many bills to their credit.

For example, Rep. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta sponsored not less than 62 bills in the House; Rep. Ossai Ossai sponsored no fewer than 50 bills while Rep. Edward Pwajok had no fewer than 31 bills.

These are few among many members who contributed to the legislative proceedings of the lower chamber within the year under review.

Besides carrying out its legislative function on executive bills brought before it, the House of Representatives also concurred on bills emanating from the Senate.

For instance, one major bill from the executive to the lower house was the National Minimum Wage Bill, 2019.

Because of its importance to the nation’s workers, the bill was given accelerated hearing.

The National Minimum Wage Bill, 2019, which was deliberated upon and passed by the lawmakers less than a week, was transmitted to the Senate for concurrence.

Some of the bills sponsored by the executive include: News Agency of Nigeria Statutory Appropriation Bill, 2016, Federal Capital Territory Statutory Appropriation Bill, 2016 sponsored by the executive, Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act (Amendment) Bill, Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2016, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency Statutory Appropriation Bill, 2016, among others.

Also, bills emanating from the Senate to the House include Nigerian Railway Authority Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2016, Public Procurement Act (Amendment) Bill, 2016, Defence Space Administration Bill, 2016, Federal University of Agriculture, Kabba (Establishment) Bill 2017 and Federal Colleges of Education Act (Amendment) Bill, to mention but few.

Although the 8th House of Representatives’ bill progression chart shows that the lawmakers had performed well in their legislative calendar, not all the bills, whether private member bills, public bills or executive bills, sailed through the legislative drills.

Some bills died at the first reading, some at the second reading, while others at the third reading.

Besides, there were bills which got the lawmakers’ nod but which the executive declined assenting and one such bill is Petroleum Industry Bill.

Rep. Abdulrazak Namdas, the Spokesperson of the House of Representatives said that members, within the years under review, had been able to sponsor several bills for the socio-economic and political development of the country.

According to him, law making is the principal job and duty of a legislator and each lawmaker should have key areas of interest he or she wants to specialise on.

Namdas said that a legislator must have the capacity and the knowledge and do research on particular areas he needed to sponsor any bill or a motion.

“You must be conversant with the laws as some of the laws could be in different forms; the bill could either be amended or you want to repeal the law or you want a fresh law, depending on which area of interest.

“But if you don’t have the knowledge, you may not be in the position to even amend or sponsor the amendment.

“The president does not assent to some of the bills, that is why you will see some bills in the fifth assembly recurring,’’ he explained.

He admitted that there might be some instances when the executive might not be on the same page with the legislature for some reasons.

“When the executive has a feeling that a bill is trying to subvert it or trying to undermine the executive power, even as good as it may be, it will not be signed into law.

“These are some of the challenges, there are bills that the legislature has been able to put in place but they have not been assented to,’’ he said.

Namdas also cited the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill which the president declined his assent to, assuring Nigerians that the re-elected members would take the bill up from where it stopped.

“For some of us, who have been re-elected, we will still have to go back and work to ensure that the bill is fully assented to in the 9th National Assembly.

“The 9th National Assembly will ensure that its leadership is on the same page with the executive since majority seats in both houses were from the APC.

“In the 8th National Assembly, we had a lot of hiccups; the experiences are not good enough and we don’t expect that in the 9th National Assembly,’’ he said.

All in all, the Executive Director, Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement (YIAGA AFRICA) and convener of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement, Mr. Samson Itodo, commends the lawmakers for the feats achieved in passing the famous bill.

Similarly, the Executive Director, Foundation for Persons Living with Disabilities, Mrs. Pat John-Oseh commends the legislators for the good work done on the Disabilities Act.


WHEN the then Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewale, reviewed the interventions of the 8th Senate in the health sector and submitted that the remarkable provisions made for the health sector in the 2018 budget stood the National Assembly out in national development efforts, it was a pointer to other legacies that the 8th Senate and indeed the National Assembly has achieved.

To ensure that healthcare remains the right of every Nigerian, the lawmakers passed a Bill, which stipulated that one per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) should be used to establish the Basic Healthcare Fund in the 2018 budget so that primary healthcare comes within reach of every Nigerian.

The intention is that the fund would help to eliminate the problem of maternal and infant mortality, as well as create a healthy population.

It will also ensure that all kids get necessary immunisation that would keep them insulated against various diseases while ensuring that mothers have the best care during childbirth.

The 8th Senate in 2018 intervened by seeking solutions to the escalating insecurity across the country, by organising a National Security Summit in February 2018.

The summit provided a platform for heads of military and paramilitary agencies to make submissions to parliament, and put forward 20 recommendations to the executive on strategies to bolster national security.

Senators had repeatedly said that they were “tired of the frequent observance of one minute silence following the killing of Nigerians in the various conflicts and criminal activities across the country,” and as such, had engaged with security agencies to ensure that all necessary laws and funds needed to ensure the safety of lives and property in the country were put in place.

Even though the series of crises, which erupted in the wake of Saraki’s emergence as President of the 8th Senate refused to abate for a reasonable part of its lifespan, the leadership made desperate moves to create legislative impact in some critical sectors of the country’s socio-economic life.

For example, with barely one month to go, the 8th Senate passed over 230 bills in addition to clearing some 151 public petitions. These include, the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) passed to promote transparency and accountability in the oil industry after 12 years, and which President Muhammadu Buhari refused to assent to on grounds that its provisions tend to reduce the President’s powers.

When Saraki listed the achievements of the Senate under him during the third-year anniversary of his leadership, his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu stated that at this time, “we have passed 213 bills and cleared 138 petitions submitted by the public. We are happy to say that this Senate is the most productive since 1999. It has surpassed the 5th Senate, which passed 129 bills in four years and had the highest number of bills, as against the 6th Senate with 72 bills, and 128 passed by the 7th Senate.

“The number of petitions we have successfully treated to the satisfaction of Nigerians who filed them dwarfed those treated by the sixth and seventh Senate respectively.”

Still enumerating factors that set the 8th Senate apart, he said the present Senate worked to grow the economy by passing bills like the Companies and Allied Matters Act; the Secured Transactions in Movable Assets Act; the Credit Bureau Reporting Act and the Warehouse Receipts Bill; Nigerian Railways Authority Bill, and the National Transportation Commission Bill because they were designed to bring about notable reforms to the business environment and strengthen the country’s legislative frameworks.

“We are particularly glad that the impact of the Secured Transactions in Movable Assets Act, and the Credit Bureau Reporting Act became apparent immediately after they were signed into law as they formed the basis for which the World Bank upgraded Nigeria in its Annual Ease of Doing Business rating,” Saraki said.

He expressed optimism that when the new Company and Allied Matter Act (CAMA), which the Senate just passed becomes law, it will bring about more significant results, particularly such that small and medium scale entrepreneurs can access capital, grow and multiply.

Some other important bills passed by the 8th Senate, which have national appeal are the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit Bill; the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill; the Witness Protection Bill; the Whistleblower Protection Bill, and the Federal Audit Service Commission Bill. These were efforts directed towards supporting the Federal Government’s fight against corruption.

Worthy of note is the fact that the National Assembly was quick to act in a manner that prevented Nigeria from being expelled from the global financial intelligence community by expediting the passage of the NFIU Bill, which guarantees the exchange of financial intelligence.

The lawmakers also broke the PIB jinx by passing the Governance Component of the Petroleum Industry Bill. Public hearings have been conducted on the administrative, fiscal and host community components of the bill. This is the most extensive work ever done on the bill since 1999.

There were also some constitutional amendment bills, a number of which will change the face of politics in the country. The Not Too Young to Run Bill, the Financial Autonomy for Local Government Bill, the Financial Autonomy for Houses of Assembly Bill are some bills that received widespread approval from Nigerians and members of the international community, and are capable of improving governance and ensuring that the government serves the people better.

Other measures that stood the 8th Senate out include the provision of details and breakdown of the annual budget of the National Assembly, holding of public hearings as part of the budget preparation process, the proposed Open NASS week aimed at engaging with other arms of government and civil society groups and the frequent discussions with a view to resolving issues involving labour unions, government and other stakeholders.

“We exposed high-level corruption in the management of the North-east relief efforts, and passed the North-east Development Commission Bill, which has now been signed into law.

“We have also engaged stakeholders on the drug epidemic that is ravaging a significant demography of our population and we are set to pass new bills that would help to address the mental health aspect of drug abuse, and the law enforcement component that has to do with ensuring that all agencies of the Federal Government are working in-sync to tackle this menace,” Saraki said in one of his speeches on the interventions of the Senate in critical sectors.


DESPITE the very profound achievements in legislation and para-legislative activities, the 8th Senate had its own fair share of failings.

The political horse-trading, which the Senate leadership deployed to survive the hostile political environment came with some parliamentary compromises.

Key among the issues that suffered from these compromises was the investigation into the alleged bribery linked to a particular mobile telecommunication services provider and some high-ranking government officials.

Till date, little is being said of the Senate’s probe of the N500m allegedly paid by a telecommunications firm to a high-ranking Federal Government official to cover-up or frustrate government’s action on the matter.

The failed investigation into the infamous invasion of the Senate Chamber and the hijacking of the mace is one of the many unresolved parliamentary issues that may haunt it for years to come.

Even as the ad hoc committee made several efforts to conclude work on it, it faced many challenges that it was unable to surmount, while those affected by that draft report allegedly deployed means to permanently sweep it under the carpet.

LIKE the upper chamber of the National Assembly, the ruling All-Progressives Congress (APC) was also caught unawares when the representative of Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa-Balewa Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara emerged as Speaker of the lower chamber nearly eight years ago.

But the dust raised by the intrigues and politicking that characterised the Speaker’s emergence had barely settled when the House was embroiled in a budget padding scandal, which in no time, led to the suspension of the former Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Abdulmumini Jibrin.

Apart from this being one of the first major scandals to rock the House, Jibrin, who later regained his seat at the expiration of the suspension slammed on him, alleged that the budgeting process in the lower chamber was being exploited by some of his privileged colleagues to enrich themselves to the detriment of Nigerians.

In May 2018, an Abuja High Court nullified Jibrin’s suspension in the fundamental human rights suit, which he filed against the House. That development vindicated those who accused the House of being intolerant of opposing views, and abusing the lawmaker’s rights to freedom of expression.

Nevertheless, Speaker Dogara while previewing the activities of the House, declared that the House remains the most performing chamber in the country’s political history, right from independence in 1960 till date.

Be that as it may, the House passed no fewer than 237 bills in line with its legislative agenda, which was launched on August 4, 2015, which among other things, stressed the need for the House to respond to citizens’ demands for greater transparency and accountability in the way that legislative activities are conducted.

The agenda equally stresses the need to introduce necessary legislative interventions to promote equality and entrench the rights of women, youths and vulnerable groups in the society; establish the necessary legislative interventions that respond to national economic challenges, address poverty and rebuild infrastructure in the country.

Speaking when he was conferred with the Euro Knowledge Award in recognition of his exemplary leadership style, Dogara, pointed at the timely passage of the 1999 Constitution Amendment Bill, which is regarded as one of the landmark achievements of the House within the period under review.

Also, as part of the constitution alteration process, the House worked on 33 major bills, which comprise the Not Too Young To Run Bill that reduces the age qualification to run for major elective positions in the polity.

The bill, which equally aims at providing the enabling environment for youths to participate in governance, seeks to alter Section 65, 177 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to reduce the age qualification for the office of the President from 40 years to 30 years; governor from 35 to 30; Senate from 35 to 30; House of Representatives from 30 to 25, and state Houses of Assembly from 30 to 25.

Other highlights of the Constitution amendment bill include attempts to grant autonomy to the local councils and the devolution of powers to states, in line with the clamor for true federalism.

The eventual adoption of the ‘Not Too Young To Run Bill by over 24 states’ Houses of Assembly, and assent by President Muhammadu Buhari won the lower chamber plaudits from rights groups and civil society organisations.

Among other important bills passed by the House were the North East Development Commission Bill, and the South East Development Commission Bill, all aimed at addressing the infrastructural deficits in the country.

NINTH (9th) National Assembly

The Ninth Assembly – strictly on account of blind motives for borrowing and increasing the country’s foreign debts, jeopardised the future of every Nigerian on the ground that the government is “building Infrastructure”.

Without minding the state of things, insecurity caused Nigerians to wallow in melancholy. They have lost so much to the destruction orchestrated by bandits, kidnappers, and other perpetrators of terror. The ninth assembly sounded so loud around its first two years while celebrating.

The apparent air of self-praise in the chamber resulted from the overwhelming presence of the meager minds in the Senate, putting themselves above the totem pole, even though, while scoring themselves high, their success says otherwise.

Apart from the “January – December budget cycle” which has become the “accomplishment slogan” of the ninth assembly, the “zazu” of the administration, would hardly not surface as a subject in any speech given by the present Senate President, Dr. Ahmed Lawan. This seems to be the height of their achievements.

The ninth assembly also boasts of maintaining a “cordial relationship with the executive arm”, led by President Muhammadu Buhari. Unfortunately, the cooperation has put Nigerians in a more backward state in terms of economy, finance, and security. The “herder-cow” relationship with the Presidency, has made the ninth assembly a non-productive one, always dancing to the tune of the paymaster.

It should however be noted that many setbacks suffered by the immediate past National Assembly were because of the poor relationship it had with the executive arm.

The ninth assembly has also passed crucial bills which include “the Deep off-Shore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act CAP (Amendment Bill, 2009), which is aimed at increasing Nigeria’s share of the revenue in her crude oil. Other bills on Finance which amended the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2004 (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2019, sought to create a legal environment conducive for ease of doing business. The assembly also boasts of its quick response to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Sadly, since the assumption of the ninth assembly, the Senate President and his colleagues are so much indebted to Nigerians for running a National Assembly which works as an appendage of the executive, leaving the excesses of the executive unchecked. And the Senate President, is playing very well the role of executive ‘loyalist’, granting every request by the executive without proper scrutiny.

While the unending loans being negotiated by the National Assembly continue to create a psychological burden for most Nigerians, it also has ruined the administration’s credibility. Nigerians’ future remains, a staggering drunk man, walking beside a deep gutter filled with sewage from a cassava processing industry.

In the last 31 months, the ninth assembly has recorded more failures: inability to keep the house checked as regards one misconduct by members or another. The non-compliance with resolution and the Senate’s reluctance to appropriately respond as a result of the “client-customer” approach is another hallmark of the National Assembly.

Also, the poor habits of embarking on frequent holidays, resuming plenary sessions late, budget padding (a recurrent problem) in the National Assembly, and other celebrated abnormalities continue to plague the federal legislature.

It should, however, be recalled that the previous National Assembly suffered from the speculations that its chairman, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, had poor regards for Nigerians and stalled the progress of the Buhari administration through the decline and rejection of the frequent loans requested by the Presidency. However, the arrival of the ninth assembly under the leadership of Lawan has corrected all that. Now, the eighth assembly has become a subject of praise and admiration.

Successes and failures of the ninth National Assembly

It would be recalled that upon resumption, the Lawan-led Senate has, on many occasions, assured Nigerians that the legislative arm will work for the good of Nigerians.

While many have commended some legislations of the ninth Senate, other actions of the lawmakers have been criticised with many Nigerians tagging the Senate and its leadership as a rubber stamp.

In this analysis, some of the successes and failures of the ninth Senate so far are reviewed.


1. Cordial relationship with the Executive

One striking feature about the outgoing assembly is the new found love that exists between it and the executive. It is as though both parties are willing to do anything to make the other comfortable.

Past assemblies, especially the eighth Senate, had sour relationships with the executive. Many setbacks suffered by the eighth Senate were largely as a result of lack of understanding between both arms of government.

Being one of his campaign promises, Senator Lawan has, so far, managed to maintain that good relationship with the executive.

2. Speedy budget passage

This is probably the biggest achievement of the ninth Senate and the entire National Assembly in 2019.

Delays in passage of the national budget had been a major failure for previous assemblies as it usually takes not less than three or four months to pass it.

This was not different in the eight Senate. In 2016, President Buhari presented the budget on December 22 but it was not passed until March 23, 2017.

The 2018 budget was presented on December 14, 2017 and passed on March 11 of the next year. The 2019 budget was passed on April 30 after it was first presented to the National Assembly on December 19, 2018.

The National Assembly had blamed delayed budget passage on late presentation, failure of MDAs to appear before committees, oversight functions, among others.

But during the ninth National Assembly, the 2020 budget was presented on October 8 and passed on December 8.

This time also, all MDAs were present to defend their budgets – this is not unrelated to the president’s instruction asking representatives of MDAs to remain in the country until after their budget defence.

This is also not unrelated to the new found ‘understanding’ between the executive and the legislative arms of government.

3. ‘Prompt’ attention to crucial bills

One other characteristic of the ninth Senate is the prompt attention as well as speedy passage of bills that are deemed important.

Some of these bills are the Appropriation Bill, which was passed within two months, the Finance Bill, which was quickly attended to even though lawmakers did not have copies of the bill at the stage of second reading; the Deep Offshore and the Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act and the Public Procurement Act.

Other actions speedily addressed include the confirmation of nominees sent by the president. Some of them are the nominees for the board of Niger Delta Development Commission, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, INEC RECs, NAHCON, Chief Judge of Federal High Court, among others.


1. Budget padding

As it has been with previous assemblies, the ninth Senate is no different in this regard.

The ninth Senate has been found guilty of inserting extra costs into the 2020 budget – most of which are hidden under dubious implementation of projects.

Members of the National Assembly had on December 8, passed the 2020 budget of N10.6 trillion against the N10.3 trillion presented by the president – a difference of about N264 billion.

The budget was padded with the Federal Capital Territory Administration and Universal Basic Education Commission getting the biggest chunk of the increments.

Surprisingly, President Buhari, known for strict attention to transparency, signed the budget without raising the issue of additional costs in the budget.

In 2016, the parliament was accused of padding the budget with about N481 billion. Also, Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo in 2017, delayed signing of the budget because of the removal of priority projects and introduction of new projects by lawmakers.

In 2018, Mr Buhari accused the lawmakers of introducing non-essential projects in the budget.

He said the lawmakers introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to N578 billion. Similarly, before signing the 2019 budget, the President said the addition of about N90 billion to the N8.83 trillion he submitted to the legislature would make it difficult for the government to realise its set objectives.

The president’s decision to sign the 2020 budget without raising alarm is again, not unrelated to the new found love between the two arms.

2. Non-transparency of budget

Even though N128 billion has been allocated to the National Assembly, details and releases of line items remain unknown weeks after the budget has been passed and signed.

Many Nigerians and civic groups have urged the legislature to make public its budget with details of specific funding for each budgeted item.

3. Checks, Balances

Despite the cordial relationships that exist between the two, the ninth Senate has failed to check most of the actions of the executive, especially that of impunity.

One of such instances was the president’s decision to disobey the rule of law by ignoring court orders in the case of activist Omoyele Sowore.

Mr Sowore was arrested alongside an activist, Olawale Bakare, on August 3 by the State Security Service for planning a protest to call for revolution. They were charged with treasonable felony, fraud and ‘abusing’ the president.

The court had granted the duo bail twice, but the SSS, which reports directly to the president, failed to obey the court orders and instead kept them illegally in detention.

Barely 24 hours after they were released, had armed officials gone into the court premises to violently apprehend the duo, the first time in the nation’s history.

This time, both the Senate and the presidency kept mum on the matter. The Senate only reacted six days later by asking its committee on Judiciary “to investigate the matter”.

Another instance is failure of the Senate to question the $29 billion loan request of the president – a loan which he said is to execute key infrastructural projects across the country between 2016 and 2018.

Even though the same request was rejected by the previous Senate, the Senate President has said the ninth Senate will approve the request.

4. Lateness

What was a norm in the eighth Senate, continued in the ninth Senate.

Since its inauguration, members of the upper chamber have portrayed lateness to sessions and disorderliness with all the principal officers culpable.

By interpretation of the standing order, plenary is supposed to start at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. But never have the lawmakers complied with this rule.

As a matter of fact, the first session on June 13, commenced at 10:35 a.m. – this was 14 minutes after the Senate President walked into the chamber.

Subsequent plenary sessions have been delayed by at least 20 minutes or even an hour.

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