Fred Itua and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
For the second time since the Eight Senate was inaugurated on June 9, 2015, it failed to form a quorum yesterday, with only 10 in attendance. Accordingly, it adjourned plenary till today.
There are 109 senators, representing 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. According to the standing rules of the senate, it must form a quorum before plenary can commence.
Not less than 37 senators, making up one-third of the senate, must be on ground to form a quorum before the legislative business of the day can commence.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who presided, announced the adjournment of plenary since a quorum could not be formed.
At about 10:33a.m, two minutes into the day’s legislative business, Andrew Uchendu, moved for the adoption of last Thursday’s votes and proceedings. It was seconded by Philip Aduda. As soon as the votes and proceedings were adopted, Olusola Adeyeye raised a point of order, citing lack of quorum.
Saraki, who agreed with his position, called for the adjournment of the day’s sitting. Adeyeye, who stood in for the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, moved a motion for an adjournment and was seconded by Emmanuel Bwacha, who stood in for the Minority Leader, Biodun Olujimi.
Some lawmakers who came to the chamber, thereafter, expressed disappointment, upon learning that plenary had been adjourned.
The 10 senators who attended yesterday’s plenary were Saraki, Uchendu, Aduda, Adeyeye, Gbenga Ashafa and Shaba Lafiagi.
Others were Bwacha, Francis Alimikhena, Suleiman Adokwe and Gbolahon Dada.
According to the day’s Order Paper, some reports had been slated for deliberations. Three career ambassadors were also billed for confirmation, while a new bill on mental health and substance abuse ought to have been presented.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives, yesterday, deferred debate on the general principles of the 2019 Appropriation Bill to today.
It was the second time, the House would defer debate on the appropriation bill, which was presented to the joint session of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari, on December 19,2018.
The commencement of debate on the appropriation bill, earlier slated for last Thursday, was rescheduled for yesterday, to enable all members of the House get copies of the bill.
However, when the second reading of the appropriation bill, which was listed as item number seven in the order paper, was called up at yesterday’s plenary, the House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, in a motion, applied that it be stepped down.
According to Gbajabiamila, it was to allow lawmakers more time to digest the bill.
The Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Lasun, who presided over yesterday’s plenary, while ruling on the motion, said the debate on the 2019 appropriation bill will commence today.
Meanwhile, the House , yesterday, passed the Electric Power Sector Reform Act Amendment Bill, which criminalises estimated billing in the country.
If the bill eventually becomes law, estimated billing shall attract both civil and criminal liabilities.