Fred Itua, Abuja
Regarding the just concluded Eighth Senate, while a section of Nigerians would hail the parliament as a beacon of hope in the face of tyranny, others might view their actions as obstacles to development.
The end of the Eight Senate also signalled an end to Bukola Saraki’s four-year tenure. Having presided over the upper legislative chamber and survived series of ‘coup’ attempts, people may wonder if he did anything beside politics.
For lovers and fans of Saraki, he’s more humane than the stoic posture he portrayed whenever presiding over proceedings of the Senate. They have also offered an insight into some of the human-interest interventions he made as President of the Senate.
In July 2018, a corps member, Linda Igwetu was reportedly killed by a trigger-happy rank and file police operative. On behalf of the Senate, Saraki, called the Igwetu family and the Senate launched an investigation into her death.
On August 3, 2015, Saraki visited Maiduguri, Borno State, accompanied by top leaders of the Senate, including Senate Majority Leader at the time, Ali Ndume, and Senator Abubakar Kyari, who represented Borno North Senatorial District.
While in Maiduguri, the Senate President visited IDP camps, paid a courtesy call on Governor Kashim Shettima and the Council of Borno State Traditional Rulers at the Shehu of Borno’s palace. That was the first time a legislative delegation from the National Assembly was visiting an IDP Camp since the Boko Harm crisis began.
The Senate, on Sunday, May 27, 2018 visited the Abagena Internally Displaced Persons Camp, located along Makurdi/Lafia Road, to mark Children’s Day. During the visit, the Senate President assured Nigerians, especially the people of Benue State, that the Senate would get to the root of the killings across the country.
Saraki, on April 29, 2018, paid a condolence visit to the NYSC orientation camp in Ilorin, Kwara State, following the death of a corps members, Miss Hilda Eva Amadi. Miss Amadi reportedly died following a severe injury she sustained during a Man O’ War drill in the orientation exercise at the camp.
The Senate President also donated N5.7 million for the renovation of male and female hostels, renovation of the clinic and supply of drugs at the NYSC camp.
On December 18, 2017, the Nigerian Senate held a roundtable on the drug abuse crisis in Nigeria, in Kano. The roundtable involved the participation of ministries, departments and agencies of state and local governments, community leaders, international partners, civil society groups, and law enforcement agencies.
The roundtable was inspired by the rising concern among senators that the drug abuse epidemic, which had been sweeping through Nigerian communities, posed an existential threat to society.
On February 26, 2018, the Nigerian Senate held a roundtable on migration and human trafficking in Benin City, Edo State. The two-day event, which saw attendance by representatives from ministries, departments and agencies, international partners, civil society groups, as well as traditional and religious institutions, was aimed at discussing solutions to Nigeria’s migration problems.
At the two events, the Senate received first-hand accounts from former drug users (in Kano) and victims of illegal migration and trafficking (in Edo), which helped it plan its responses to both issues.
In February 2016, the Senate President attended the Made-In-Aba Trade Fair in Abuja, where he had the opportunity to interact with local manufacturers who use locally made materials for various manufactured goods, all made in Nigeria.
At the event, the manufacturers’ challenges were shared with him and suggestions were made on how the National Assembly could assist. Some of the issues were lack of patronage by government, access to funding, difficulties surrounding business registration, multiple taxation, and infrastructure, among others.
The Senate President assured them that the 8th Senate and the National Assembly under his leadership is determined to address the challenges.
In June 2016, the Senate passed the Public Procurement Act, which now stipulates that government agencies shall patronise made-in-Nigeria goods, cut down the amount of time needed to approve government contracts, and increase the percentage of mobilisation fee.
The amendment would increase government’s patronage of Nigerian-made goods, thereby putting more money in the pockets of Nigerian businesses and further stimulate the economy.
The Senate President, on May 30, 2017, spent some time with families at the Kuchigoro IDP camp in Abuja. To help provide the families that were observing Ramadan with some succour, the Senate President donated food, toiletries and other essentials to the families at the camp.
Saraki reassured the families and inmates of the camp that they would always be remembered, and that the Senate and the Federal Government would continue to do everything to get them resettled in their communities peacefully.