SINCE the inauguration of
the 8th National Assembly
under the leadership of Dr.
Abubakar Bukola Saraki,
the legislative chamber has
become more vibrant, with
legislative processes that
impact the lives of average
Nigerians. Matching words
with actions, Saraki in his
inaugural speech promised
that there would be a serious
connection between the
National Assembly and
the Nigerian people. Since
then, there have been steady
updates of the plenary session
to Nigerians via various social
media networks. Because not
every Nigerian can attend
every single Senate plenary,
the 8th Senate has made it
easy of us all to follow its
activities on the Red Chamber
via Twitter, Facebook, and
YouTube.
Another good point scored
by the 8th senate was the
huge success attained at
the end of the Ministerial
Screening exercise. The
Senate screened President
Muhammadu Buhari’s 36
ministerial nominees in
an exercise that was both
colourful and dramatic.
The exercise also raised the
issue of thoroughness as some
of the nominees were hardly
grilled as expected. Despite
the threat shown by some of
the PDP senators against some
of the ministerial nominees,
PDP senators vowed to make
the screening exercise a hell
for the likes of Rotimi Amaechi
and Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
However, Nigerians were
amazed with the way Saraki
handled the screening exercise.
It is a known fact that the
presidency under Buhari has
not hidden his dislike for
Saraki since his emergence on
June 9, 2015. Nevertheless, the
leadership of the 8th Senate was
able to successfully screen all the
ministerial nominees because of
the political dexterity of Saraki.
Since the inception of
democracy in Nigeria, we
have not had a Senate that
proposed a legislative agenda
to Nigerians. However, this 8th
Senate has a 18-member strong
committee on the legislative
agenda. According to Saraki,
the committee has been would
saddled with the responsibility
of charting the course for the
8th Senate. The objectives and
mission of the legislative agenda
are geared towards increasing
the institutional capacity of the
Senate, building the legislative
autonomy and strengthening
the committee system,
oversight functions, extensive
representation and outreach,
stakeholder and civil society
involvement, implementation,
monitoring and evaluation,
reduction running cost, and
effective legislative support
system. With the legislative
agenda Nigerians can always
run a check on the Senate and
always call the leadership of
the senate to order whenever
its about derailing from its
legislative agenda.
The 8th Senate started on a
shaky note, with the elections
of the senate leadership causing
a crisis both within the Senate
and the ruling party, APC.
Regardless of this, for the
first time in a long time, the
lawmakers in the Senate have
a bi-partisan leadership with
Senator BukolaSaraki from
the All Progressives Congress
(APC) as the Senate president
while Senator Ike Ekweremadu
as his Deputy from the
opposition Peoples Democratic
Party (PDP). Despite party and
ideological differences among
the senators, Saraki’s leadership
of the Senate has been able
to unite the lawmakers in the
interest of Nigeria. As it stands,
Saraki enjoys strong support of
his colleagues thus making it
easy for bills and motions to be
passed.
The media is the link between
the National Assembly and
the Nigerian people. For the
prompt, effective and efficient
reporting of news, the Senate
Press Corps has to be effective.
On February 2nd, 2016, the
Senate President, Abubakar
Bukola Saraki unveiled the
newly renovated Press Centre
of the Senate Press Corps. The
Vice-Chairman of the Senate
Press Centre while appreciating
the entire senate for this great
gesture, said that in the history
of Nigerian Senate, no Senate
President has ever recognised
the Senate Press Corps like
Bukola Saraki.
Though legislators do not
govern, they provide the means
by which a political system can
maintain the balance between
effectiveness and consent. In
this regard, legislators stand
between the needs of the
government to be able to raise
resources necessary to carry out
a programme of public policy
and to maintain the consent of
the people. The 8th Senate has
focused majorly on energizing
every sector, particularly
those that directly affect the
masses such as power, security,
infrastructure and economic
growth. For example, the Senate
recently directed the Nigerian
By Saka Olawale
8th Senate and the Nigerian mandate
Electricity Regulatory
Commission to stop the fixed
charges on electricity, and
the bulk-metering of rural
communities.
There have been several
unsuccessful campaigns in
2004, 2009, and 2010 to pass
a bill aimed at encouraging
the purchase of locally
made products. If such a
bill is passed, it is capable of
jumpstarting the Nigerian
economy. As it stands, the
#BuyNaijaToGrowTheNaira
initiative has taken a positive
new dimension, as Senators
from both sides of the
political divide are driving
this campaign to promote our
domestic economy. Saraki
has also mentioned that the
Senate would be working on
the review and amendment
of the procurement act. This
amendment would work to
ensure that Made in Nigeria
goods receive ‘first dibs’ by the
government. Some parameters
of this amendment, Saraki
explained, would include
provisions that would ensure
that government agencies
would only resort to imported
goods when there are no
domestic alternatives.
Saka Olawale is a public
affairs analyst


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