By Fred Itua, Abuja
The Senate, by law, is the highest law-making institution in Nigeria. Unlike the House of Representatives which basically passes annual budgets, motions and bills, the function of the Senate is multifaceted. It confirms any nominee from the president and performs other constitutional roles from time to time. Hence, it is seen as a revered chamber.
Since the commencement of the Fourth Republic in 1999, the Senate has had some daring lawmakers and benchwarmers alike. In the 9th Senate, headed by Ahmad Lawan, there is no exception. There are vibrant lawmakers and those who seldom make contributions and their presence is not felt.
The Senate, over the years, has also been described as a retirement home for former governors. This status was earned in 2007, when some governors served out their terms. Poised to remain relevant, they settled for the Senate. Since then, some of them have remained there.
In 2015, the figure skyrocketed. Former governors, ministers and diplomats, have technically converted the chamber to a retirement home. Many of them seldom make contributions and they exit the chamber before the end of any legislative business.
However, since the 9th Senate was inaugurated in June, 2019, some senators have remained unknown. They don’t make contributions on the floor of the upper legislative chamber. They seldom sponsor bills, motions, nor make tangible contributions during major debates. They don’t grant media interviews and have remained obscure for almost two years.
Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu East, PDP)
Chimaroke Nnamani is a former governor of Enugu State and a senator. He represents Enugu East in the National Assembly. He is a ranking senator and one of the supposed intellectuals in the Red Chamber. However, he has been missing in action since he was elected and sworn in last year.
Nnamani who returned to the Senate last year after about eight years in political wilderness, is seldom in the chamber. He doesn’t contribute to any debate, motion or other important national issues. He doesn’t attend committee functions either and has rarely granted media interviews.
At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nnamani who is a trained medical doctor, was also missing in action. It is unclear if his non-appointment as chairman of a relevant committee may have led to his sudden exit from vibrant politicking in the Senate.
Adelere Adeyemi Oriolowo (Osun West, APC)
On February 23, 2019, Oriolowo was elected senator representing Osun West in the Senate. Prior to his election, he was the General Manager of the Osun State Agricultural Development Corporation from 2007 to 2013 and Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Water Resources, Rural Development and Community Affairs of Osun from 2013 to 2016.
Though he has so far sponsored three bills yet to be passed into law, he is not considered as one of the highfliers from the South West in the Senate. During major debates and other interventions in the Senate, he seldom contributes.
Ademola Kola Balogun (Oyo South, PDP)
Balogun is a senator representing Oyo South senatorial district. He defeated the late and immediate-past governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi in 2019. Having defeated a sitting governor, pundits had expected a vibrant representation from him.
However, that vibrancy has been missing. Outside the Senate, he is considered a vibrant party man and core politician. He is also an ally of the governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde.
Ibrahim Gaidam (Yobe East, APC)
He represents Yobe East in the Senate. In April 2007, Gaidam was elected Deputy Governor of Yobe State. He was sworn in as governor on January 27, 2009 following the death of governor.
Earlier in the year, the first term senator came to limelight when he sponsored a controversial bill, asking for amnesty for Boko Haram terrorists. The bill was tagged ‘National Agency for the Education, Rehabilitation, De-radicalization and Integration of repentant insurgents in Nigeria (Est.etc) Bill, 2020.’
Since the backlash that followed the sponsorship of the bill, Gaidam has not contributed to any issue in the Senate. Despite the weekly debate on security issues affecting the Northeast, he has not contributed to debates or or other issues.
Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko (Sokoto North, APC)
Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko is a ranking senator. He’s a former governor of Sokoto State and considered as one of those who brought in Lawan as President of the Senate. He is also a member of the ruling APC.
Wamakko has, however, maintained a loud silence since his reelection last year. The Sokoto APC leader rarely contributes to debates, motions and other interventions in the Senate.
In recent times, senators from the North, specifically Sokoto State have raised points of order on the floor of the Senate. Ironically, Wamakko who is in the class of former governors in the upper chamber, has not made any contributions.
Barinada Barry Mpigi (Rivers South East, PDP)
Barinada Barry Mpigi served as a member of the House of Representatives. He was first elected in 2011 and reelected to a second term in December 2016. In 2019, he was elected as the senator representing Rivers South East Senatorial District in the National Assembly on the platform of PDP.
Unlike his counterparts from Rivers State, Mpigi is seldom vibrant. He has been in the news recently for two key reasons. First, he was linked to an index COVID-19 case in Rivers State. He vehemently denied it.
Secondly, he recently sponsored a bill for the establishment of a federal university in the area to deal with environmental issues. Since then, there has not been any serious legislative interventions within and around the National Assembly.
Umaru Tanko Almakura (Nasarawa South, APC)
Senator Umaru Tanko Almakura represents Nasarawa South in the upper legislative chamber. He is the immediate-last governor of Nasarawa State. He’s a member of the APC.
Though a first time senator, he, however wields some powers and is seen as a member of the kitchen cabinet of the President of the Senate, Lawan. Despite his towering profile, Almakura is not active on the floor of the Senate.
Like many other former governors who have retired to the Senate, Almakura rarely contributes to any debate on the floor of the upper legislative chamber. His presence at the committee level is also rarely felt. He rarely grants media interviews.
Muhammad Enagi Bima (Niger South, APC)
Muhammad Enagi Bima represents Niger South in the Senate. He incurred the wrath of Nigerians in March, 2020, when he introduced a bill that seeks to ban the importation of generators in Nigeria.
The bill, titled “a bill for an Act to prohibit/ban the importation of generating sets to curb the menace of environmental (air) pollution and to facilitate the development of the power sector,” was one of the six bills read for the first time on Wednesday.
The bill prescribes, at least, 10 years imprisonment for any person who knowingly sells generator sets. Almost one year after, nothing has been heard about the bill.
Beside the sponsorship of the controversial bill, almost nothing is attached to the record of the Niger-born senator in the National Assembly.