By Emmanuel Aziken
Very often the intellectual quotient of the Senate has been eclipsed by the hullabaloo from the personal failures of many of its members.
Contract scandals, oversight scams and scintillating tales of sexual adventure by some of its members may have led many Nigerians to forget the abundance of many sharp minds in the Senate.
The Senate has in recent years expressed its intellectual prowess through the oratorical expertise of its spokespersons.
The concept of Senate spokesperson was conceived by the Anyim Senate which appointed Senator Jonathan Zwingina as its official spokesman.
The Wabara Senate which followed appointed Senator Tawar Wada as its spokesman. Though Wada was verbally effusive as Zwingina, he apparently was not able to articulate the many underhand schemes of that Senate.
Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN) who succeeded Wada was a sharp witted lawyer like Wada who in his time was honoured with the prestigious title of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
Ndoma-Egbaâ€™s deftness in liaising between the Senate and the media was helped by the mutual confidence between both sides.
When he became Deputy Majority leader in the David Mark Senate, he was replaced by Senator Ayogu Eze. Eze became the first former journalist to take up the job.
A former staff of The Guardian and a pioneer reporter with Newswatch Magazine, Ezeâ€™s proficiency in English and his skilful but sometimes combative deployment of the language may have won him praise among his colleagues in the Senate chamber. But not necessarily among the Senate Press crew who were at the receiving end.
This week Senator Ezeâ€™s combative tentacles were visibly pulled back after his colleagues turned on him after they accused him of obfuscating issues arising from the Senateâ€™s resolution that President Yarâ€˜Adua transmit a letter to the National Assembly on his medical vacation.
The closed door Senate resolution of penultimate Wednesday according to many sources had played down the issue of an ultimatum to the President to respond on the matter. The brains behind the resolution constituting elements in theNigeria Interest Group (NIG), however, had a quiet agreement that President Yarâ€˜Adua be given a two week ultimatum to transmit the letter.
When this newspaper and a few others reported the facts and an underlying threat of punitive actions against the President should he fail to heed the ultimatum, Senator Eze issued a clarification where he said impeachment as reported by some newspapers was not an option before the Senate.
The NIG Senators who pushed the resolution were understandably livid by what they claimed was an attempt to undermine the resolution of the Senate.
When the Senate resumed on Tuesday, Senator Uche Chukwumerije (PPA, Abia North) a leading member of the NIG upon a point of order claimed that his privilege as a Senator had been breached by the Eze clarification which was published in many newspapers on Monday.
According to Senator Chukwumerije, Senator Ezeâ€™s assertion that impeachment was not an option before the Senate had limited the exercise of his democratic franchise as a Senator.
His assertion was echoed by many Senators as he spoke on that occasion. However, it was the rare intervention of Senator Chimaroke Nnamani (PDP, Enugu East) that caught the imagination of many that Tuesday.
The then Governor Nnamani it would be recalled, was the apostle of the Ebeano phenomenon, the political tendency which in its glorious days eclipsed the three major political dynasties (of the Nwobodos, Nwodos and C.C. Onoh) that had between them shared the political fortunes of the Coal City State.
Following Nnanamiâ€™s exit from office and mutters that Senator Eze and some of his former Ebeano disciples have stopped dancing to the Ebeano rhythms, Senator Nnamaniâ€™s intervention in the discussion over Senator Eze drew attention.
â€œWith all due respect, I would not shy away from contributing to the issue of the Senate spokesman, Ayogu Eze,â€ Senator Nnamani began. â€œWhat we are practising is constitutional democracy. The issue of senate spokesperson is local and may be specific to the Nigerian democratic experiment,â€ Senator Nnanami said.
Continuing, he said â€œWhat we are practicing is constitutional democracy which is synonymous with what they have in America.Â I have not heard of senate spokesperson in America Senate. I believe the senate speaks for itself,â€ he added.
In a quip to the Ebeano like dynamism with which Senator Eze has approached his duties, Senator Nnamani said:
â€œI admire the enthusiasm and the zeal that Senator Ayogu Eze is bringing on board. But I donâ€™t think that the Senate should go back and forth. The Senate should speak through its resolutions.â€
It was an enlightening revelation that was well lauded by many.
The President of the Senate who presided that Tuesday was to play down the issue as he slammed the media who he said have found a penchant of revealing deliberations of closed door sessions with near accuracy!