Last week, I made a daring claim that the repeated constitution review exercise is a job for the boys. As expected, many people did not agree with me. That was expected. In life, some people must disagree with you. That is the beauty of life.
This week, I’m launching more into the deep. I will also raise some posers and allow discerning hearts to judge. Again, I do not expect everyone to join the train and swallow every poser I raise here. Now, let us get down to business.
Last Wednesday, the National Assembly concluded its constitution review jamboree. True to expectations, they played a fast one. Let me draw a practical example from the Bible. In Matthew 7:9, Jesus asked a question, What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
No sane father will give his crying child a stone if what he wants is bread. Now, compare my illustration with what played out on the floor of the Senate last Wednesday. Nigerians wanted bread, but our senators, who I will rather call sinators, opted to offer us stones.
From Iruekpen in Edo State, to Oturkpo in Benue State, Nigerians wanted a restructured Nigeria. Ethnic, religious and political leaders begged and yearned for this. Public discussions were held and Nigerians for once, agreed that the country needed to be restructured. But while men slept, the devil (senators) came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went their way.
In case you are not aware, 60% of bills passed by the Senate will serve its interest and further create monsters out of an already dangerous parliament. It prefers the status quo since it serves its interest. Our feelings and wellbeing are immaterial to our senators.
How would a sane parliament dump Devolution of Powers Amendment Bill? How do you restructure a country if you do not devolve more powers to the federating units? The well-intended bill which was dumped, had sought to alter the Second Schedule, Part I & II to move certain items to the Concurrent Legislative List to give more legislative powers to states.
It also intended to delineate the extent to which the federal legislature and state assemblies can legislate on the items that have been moved to the Concurrent Legislative List.
Our sinators did not stop there. They wanted to make us bleed the more. So, they targeted more people-oriented bills. Three other bills were rejected by the Senate. The bills rejected are State Creation and Boundary Adjustment Bill, Citizenship and Indigeneship Bill and Deletion of the Land Use Act Bill.
Under item 11 of the amendment bills, which provides for a timeframe for submitting the names of ministerial or commissioner nominees, the Senate rejected a clause which provided 35 % affirmative action for women at the federal level and 20 % at the state level.
Check the trick they played. While the four important bills were rejected, twenty yeye amendment bills were passed. Ironically, the bills, which got the nod of the Senate, though important, will not immediately solve our problems.
The following are bills passed by the Senate. Composition of Members of the Council of State Bill was passed. This bill seeks to amend the Third Schedule to include former Presidents of the Senate and Speakers of the House of Representatives in the composition of the Council of State.
Authorization of Expenditure Bill was passed. This bill seeks to alter sections 82 and 122 of the Constitution to reduce the period within which the President or Governor of a state may authorize the withdrawal of monies from the Consolidated Revenue Fund in the absence of an appropriation act from 6 months to 3 months.
Others passed are Financial Autonomy of State Legislatures, Distributable Pool Account, Local Government, The Legislature and Political Parties and Electoral Matters bills.
The Senate also considered and passed Political Parties and Electoral Matters, Presidential Assent, Timeframe for submitting the Names of Ministerial or Commissioners Nominees, Appointment of Minister from the FCT, Change of Names of some Local Government Councils, Independent Candidature, The Police and Restriction of Tenure of the President and Governors bills.
Separation of the Office of Accountant-General, Office of the Auditor-General, Separation of the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and of the State from the office of the Minister or Commissioner for Justice, Judiciary, Determination of Pre-Election Matters and Civil Defence bills were debated and passed by the Red Chamber.
Similarly, procedure for presidential veto in Constitutional Alteration, Removal of certain Acts from the Constitution, Investments and Securities Tribunal, Reduction of Age Qualification, Authorization of Expenditure 1, Deletion of the NYSC Decree from the Constitution, Deletion of the Public Complaints Commission Act from the Constitution and Deletion of State Independent Electoral Commissions were considered and passed.
Check out the twenty-nine bills. About 60 % were centred on the National Assembly and how they can exercise more powers. That is the tragedy of our time. Sadly, we may have to wait for another four years to take another uncertain shot. For now, it’s a sad goodbye to restructuring.
The Senate in June deceived everyone, when it mandated President Muhammadu Buhari to submit the report of the 2014 National Conference to the Red Chamber for deliberations. Since the thrust of the report is centred on restructuring, we thought that they were going to get serious. We were wrong to have trusted them.
Senator Adamu Aliero, a former state governor of a northern state who spearheaded the defeat of Devolution of Powers Bill, ironically supported the call for the submission of the conference report to the Senate.
Just to score cheap political points, Aliero noted “In 2014, former President Goodluck Jonathan brought people from every ethnic nationality together in Abuja in what was called the National Conference. It was chaired by Justice Legbo Kutigi. The participants came up with beautiful recommendations.
“This is the time to implement those recommendations. The Senate should demand for the outcome of that conference and find a way to implement them. That is the solution to these ethnic agitations. The outcome of the conference should be tabled for discussion.
“We cannot continue to lie to ourselves. Many people who are speaking here will go out and support something else. They do not practice what they preach. We cannot continue to live like this. Things must change for the better.”
I will not spare the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. Yes, there was nothing he could have done to salvage the situation. But claiming that the amendments will lay a solid foundation for future generations was an insult. Maybe he is referring to a solid foundation for senators who want to feather their nest. He is certainly not referring to Nigerians who have been subsidizing the ostentatious lifestyles of our senators.
Saraki said “Let me thank you for your maturity and the manner this exercise was conducted. This is an exercise we promised and fulfilled. The exercise was carried out on time. We have laid the foundation for far reaching reforms and political development.
“We have addressed issues that disturbed us for many years. We have made provision for compulsory savings. We have made laws to strengthen our anti-corruption laws. We have passed a law to allow our young people to vie for elective offices. We have laid a good foundation for a new Nigeria. I want to thank the Eight Senate for making this possible.”
I urge every aggrieved woman, boy, girl, man, slave, freeborn, lunatic and criminal who can vote to get prepared. In 2019, we must take our pound of flesh. Let us join forces and send these wicked senators packing. This nonsense must stop.
I so submit!
One more thing…
Last Tuesday, our non-media friendly Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, told his colleagues that the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim Idris said he would deploy 600 special forces and 90 high caliber patrol vehicles to curb increasing cases of kidnapping along Abuja-Kaduna expressway.
Besides the 600 Special Forces and 90 patrol vehicles, Lawan claimed that the Nigerian Army and the Police have constituted a joint operation to contain incessant kidnapping on the same road.
He noted that “mass kidnapping” and kidnapping of individuals have become a matter of grave concern to the two chambers. Lawan said the IGP told lawmakers that there was already a joint operation of the police and the army to deal with the situation. The IG, he said, told lawmakers that the police contributed over 600 personnel and 90 patrol vehicles to patrol the road.
Dear Mr Lawan, Abuja-Kaduna route is not the only dangerous axis in Nigeria. Other lives matter too. Oga Lawan, are you aware that it is now haram for some to travel home because Lokoja-Okene-Auchi-Ekpoma route is a den of robbers and killer herdsmen?
Our lives matter too sir. Tell oga IGP to extend the same hand of fellowship to other troubled spots. We have bad roads to contend with. We cannot add another headache to that bros. Thank you.
Please note. The Senate, last Thursday, embarked on its annual leave. I have also commenced my annual leave. This column will go on a brief ‘leave’ and will resume in September. Cheers.