IN another 26 days, the National Assembly will reconvene for the fourth time since the inauguration of the Eighth Assembly on June 9. The dual chamber has proceeded on recess three times within three months. The first two adjournments were forced by in-fighting in the Senate and the House of Representatives for leadership positions by the lawmakers.
But the third adjournment, which they voluntarily began on August 13, will end on September 28, after a six-week vacation.
The emergence of Bukola Saraki as the Senate President and Yakubu Dogara as House of Representatives Speaker unsettled the bi-camera legislature from the blast of the whistle for the four-year race on June 9.
The two principal officers had defied directives by their All Progressives Congress (APC) party that tipped Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila to lead the Red and the Green Chambers.
Initially, the bickering from the leadership crisis was seen by many as intra-party squabble that would fizzle out in a matter of days, but the open confrontations between the two opposing camps within the APC in both chambers, gave way to muffled indignation simmering in the pouch.
The suppressed indignation is more clangorous in the Senate, where a minority Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) member Ike Ekweremadu emerged as Deputy Senate President, to the chagrin of the APC lawmakers and the leadership of the ruling party.
An aggrieved APC senator, who considered the emergence of the duo of Saraki and Ekweremadu as leaders of the chamber had gone to court to challenge the process that led to their emergence. The alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Rules that paved the way for their emergence was to become a subject of police investigation and subsequent litigation by the Unity Forum, a vocal group of APC senators.
The excitement created in the camp of the defendants over the rumoured withdrawal of the suit challenging the emergence of Saraki and was short-lived by the chambers of Mamman Mike Osuman & Co, which dismissed the purported withdrawal as “erroneous and mischievous”.
According to a document signed by Chief Mamman Mike Osuman in his capacity as the lead counsel to the plaintiffs, what was withdrawn was the first suit filed by Senator Anthony A. Adeniyi, who served in the Seventh Senate.
Not a few Nigerians have expressed concern over the inability of the federal lawmakers to settle down to legislative business since inception. Cumulatively, the senators had so far sat for 14 days before they went on recess without displaying their law-making prowess for those who voted for them on March 28 to see.
Despite the overwhelming confidence vote passed on the leadership of the Senate, Nigerians have no reason to cheer.
The confirmation of Service chiefs, a development that was in tandem with public mood, was done with dispatch and without rancour.
Within the 14 days that they sat, the Senate President led a delegation of senators to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Maiduguri, Borno and parts of Adamawa states. The senators also passed a few resolutions on a number of issues regarding erosion in parts of the country, approved $75 million World Bank loan for Edo State among others.
Though a handful of bills were referred to the various ad-hoc committees for attention, the business of the upper legislative chamber was largely dominated by oversight functions
Before the latest adjournment, the Senate President had played host to a some delegations from the various Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and members of the diplomatic corps. Observers say the peripheral actions have not done much in straightening the rough edges and the smoothening the frosty relations between the Senate and the executive arm.
In the midst of the hazy atmosphere, a group of senators, apparently prodded by Saraki, decide to embark on what many described as a wild goose chase. Led by Senator Samuel Anyanwu, the Senate ad-Hoc Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, summoned the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde for questioning over alleged short-changing in the remittances of recovered loot from corrupt public officials in the past.
The committee’s hearing was hinged on a petition allegedly filed by an aggrieved citizen. For some sinister reasons, the purported petition did not go through the normal process of scrutiny and debate by the Senate in session. It was allegedly routed through the back door to serve some predestined ends.
Strangely, both the APC and PDP caucuses in the Senate dissociated themselves from the hearing on grounds of its illegality. The hearing was held nevertheless but the proceedings there from further exposed the Senate to ridicule.
It is doubtful if the Anyanwu-led committee and its promoters could muster the courage to forge ahead with the hearing. It is also doubtful if the committee’s report and recommendation would go beyond its narrow shelf. The Senate in session cannot entertain or debate the report of an exercise that did not emanate from its chambers. So, the hearing is dead on arrival.