The Oasis Reporters
July 16, 2020
By Sesugh Akume
Out of the 109 senators of the 9th National Assembly (NASS), only 7 are women (representing 6.4% which is one of the lowest in the world. With only 1 woman out of 57 senators from the 19 states of the entire northern Nigeria), 2 women are among the 10 best performing senators by number of bills sponsored. The 2 incidentally are from Anambra State, Stella Oduah (Anambra North) with 26 bills, and Uche Ekwunife (Anambra Central) 16 bills.
In the House of Representatives with 360 members, and only 11 females, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha from Abia is number 7 on the list of top 10 with 19 bills. The women are clearly making a point. Incidentally, all of them are from the southeast.
This 9th NASS also has by far more proposed bills than previous National Assemblies. For instance, Nkem Abonta (Abia) who is third on the list of top in the House of Representatives already has 30 proposed bills in this first year, whereas he had 65 in the entire 8th NASS. Abbas Tajudeen (Kaduna) who is currently top on the list has 59 proposed bills.
Plateau appears to have the most hard working legislators in this regard, with 3 in the top 10 in both the senate and House: Simon Mwadkom, is the 6th in the House with 22 bills; Dachung Bagos, 4th with 27; and Istifanus Gyang, 4th on the list of the top 10 in the senate, with 11 bills. That’s all about it, with this 9th NASS that’s positive.
A rubber stamp NASS and its leadership
On Wednesday 28 August 2019, Ahmed Lawan, the senate president and leader of the 9th NASS declared at a town hall meeting in his Yobe North constituency that the 9th NASS would not fail Buhari, thus pledging allegiance to the president and not the people who elected him, at whose pleasure he serves. This aberration is the very first of its kind. No leader of the legislature has ever declared open allegiance to the executive which the legislature exists to put in check, since 1861 when the history of the legislative council began in Nigeria. It’s important to note that those ones were appointed, not elected yet none felt they need to pledge and prove their subservience to the executive, as their benefactors. No president of the senate since its inception in 1959 has even committed such an unforgivable blunder before Lawan did last year.
The 8th NASS resolved that clearing ministers for appointment in 2015 that henceforth, executive lists of ministerial nominees should come along with their portfolios for better confirmation hearings. In the 9th NASS, Lawan repudiated that senate resolution in order to please Buhari by accepting a ministerial list without portfolios. This has in part been responsible for confirming the worst set of ministers in the country’s history.
From Geoffrey Onyeama, the foreign minister, who is quick to defend other countries when they assault Nigeria and Nigerians; to Pauline Tallen, the women affairs minister, who didn’t know what GBV (gender-based violence) was at a town hall meeting; to Sabo Nanono, the agriculture minister, who said there were places in Kano a person could eat to their satisfaction with just 30 naira, but fact checks proved this to be false. A minister of agriculture who doesn’t know that his northeast leads the country in severe acute malnutrition, but is quick to budget 13 billion naira for pest control in 12 states for 2020.
Or Saleh Mamman, the power minister, whose first policy pronouncement as minister was to ask for prayers as he confessed knowing nothing about the electric power sector but was quick to abuse his office by suspending the heads of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), and Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET), the only 2 heads in the sector that gave hope, a thing clearly ultra vires him? He knows nothing, but was quick to abuse powers he didn’t have by suspending the women.
The so-called suspensions were later overruled.