Senate president, Bukola Saraki
Senate president, Bukola Saraki

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace”. -James Marshall ‘Jimi’ Hendrix (November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970).
This American guitarist and songwriter, who was the greatest electric guitarist in musical history and one of the most influential musicians of his era across a range of genres, must have had Nigeria in mind when he made this statement several years ago.
Last week when the National Assembly was going on its annual recess, the senate president, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki reshuffled some standing committees and gave the chairmanship of most of them to the aggrieved senators who were opposed to his election during inauguration of the federal legislature in June 2015.
Many political observers described the reshufflement as one of the best ways to ensure a lasting peace and restoring the almost lost glory of the upper legislative chamber, but they argued that it was too late of an action which the senate president ought to have been taken long time ago.
It is believed that the reshuffle of the committees’ chairmanship may be one of the steps that can save the Senate President and his deputy from suits pending against them in the long run.
Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, had, in 2015 defied the arrangement of the leadership of their party, the All Progressives Congress, APC to emerge as leaders of the National Assembly.
While Dogara later placated the party leaders by appointing their choice, Hon.Femi Gbajabiamila, as the Majority Leader of the House, Saraki shunned the APC by giving his loyalists other principal officers’ position and as the chairmanship of committees considered as “juicy”.
Though members of the Senate Unity Forum, SUF, who were seen as anti-Saraki senators got the chairmanship of most juicy committees in the new development, some analysts said the senate president should have done that immediately after his inauguration in order to douse tension generated by the development.
They said this was more necessary due to the division among senators which led to the formation of SUF comprising of those loyal to the position of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC on the senate leadership and another group, Senators of Like Minds, which was known as Pro-Saraki senators, who elected the senate president in the absence of majority of APC senators who are members of SUF in June last year.
Wife of the APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Senator Oluremi Tinubu was among the senators who got the chairmanship of new committees when Saraki announced the reshufflement of the standing committees on Thursday, July 21 towards the end of the day’s plenary session. Senator Tinubu representing Lagos central senatorial district, who before the new development heads Senate Committee on Women Affairs, is now the chairman, Senate Committee on Environment.
She reportedly protested the allocation of women’s affairs committee, which she argued supposed to have been given to a first time senator when the senate president first announced the standing committees.
Some of other senators including the spokesperson of SUF, Senator Kabiru Marafa representing Zamfara central senatorial district, became the chairman of the Petroleum Resources Committee (Downstream) from the National Identity and National Population Committee; Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi representing Kaduna Central senatorial district, who was one of the senators, who wrote a petition that led to the Senate forgery suit, leading to the prosecution of Saraki, his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, and two others, now heads the National Identity Committee.
Other chairmen of committees are Senator Adamu Aliero (Aviation); Hope Uzodinma (Customs); Barau Jubril (Tertiary Institutions) and Binta Garba-Masi (Women Affairs).
The Public Procurement Committee now has as its chairman Senator Joshua Dariye, while Senator James Manager, who was chairman of the Committee on Power, has been moved to the Solid Minerals committee.
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, who was chairman, Committee on Information and National Orientation, has been moved to the Committee on Power, while Adokwe Suleiman is chairman, Information Committee.
The newly created Legislative Compliance Committee is to be headed by Senator Babajide Omoworare, who used to head the Rules and Business Committee, while the latter is to be headed by Senator Baba Kaka Garbai (APC Borno Central). The Federal Character Committee has Senator Tijani Kaura as its new chairman.
The senators, who were made vice-chairmen of committees, are Ahmed Ogembe (Marine Transport); Ovie Omo-Agege, (Land Transport); and Philip Aduda (Downstream Petroleum).
The senate president had on Tuesday, November 24, 2015 inaugurated the first set of 11 committees. They include the Senate Committees on Health, Works, Power, Housing, Federal Character Territory, Marine Transport, Land Transport, Aviation, Trade and Investment, Industry and Capital Market.
While inaugurating the committees, Saraki said that the members of the committees were selected based on competence. Also, he expressed confidence in the lawmakers stating that he was sure that they were up to the task.
He also urged the chairmen and vice chairmen not to build a one man show but should let the input of the committee members show in their work.
However, the new chairmen appeared to be pleased with the new arrangements as they were beaming with smiles and exchanging pleasantries with their colleagues after the session.
The spokesman for the SUF, Marafa, had, in November 2015, kicked against the composition of the 65 Senate Standing Committees by Saraki, saying it was against the Senate Standing Orders 2015, as amended. He added that the composition of the committees was against fairness, equity and justice.
The senator, who cited the 1999 Constitution and the Senate Standing Orders, called for the review of the committees. According to him, the composition of Standing Committees did not follow the stipulated rules of the Senate, arguing that seniority in the Senate’s rules was not followed.
For instance, Marafa said in Oyo State, the two ranking lawmakers were denied the chairmanship of any committee while the first timer from the state was appointed the chairman of a standing committee.
He noted that Kwara and Enugu States, which produced the Senate President and the Deputy Senate President, were allocated four chairmanship slots.
Spokesperson of the Senate, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi had defended Saraki’s action, saying there was no illegality in the composition of the standing committees. He had argued that Marafa’s complaints could not be separated from his dissatisfaction with the emergence of Saraki as the senate president.
It is believed that if the SUF members eventually agreed and cooperated with the senate leadership on the new chairmanship and membership of the standing committees, the peace that eluded the 8th senate may have returned at last.


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