NINTH SENATE: How empty offices forced Senate to adjourn abruptly to July 2

By Henry Umoru

ABUJA- THE Ninth Senate, which was inaugurated Tuesday, June 11 by the Clerk to National Assembly, CNA, Mohammed Sani Omolori, with the emergence of Senator Ahmad Lawan, All Progressives Congress, APC, Yobe North as Senate President and Senator Ovie Omo- Agege, APC, Delta Central as deputy, had its first plenary session on Thursday June 13, 2019.

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After taking some decisions like the Senate’s readiness to communicate with the President, Muhammadu Buhari, other world parliamentary organisations, continental bodies, regional bodies, and the Secretary to the  Government of the Federation, SGF, the senators hurriedly adjourned till July 2.

The Senate resolved to write President Buhari and others to inform them that a quorum of the Senate was assembled and that the Presiding Officers of the Ninth National Assembly of the Senate had been elected and ready to communicate and receive any communication.

Soon after this, the Senators went into a closed door session for hours to brainstorm on their welfare and other related personal issues.

It was gathered that the Senators decided to quickly adjourn for two weeks and five days because of  lack of offices, furniture and other office equipment.

If not for the challenge, there would have been no need for the adjournment, a lawmaker said.

For this reason, all the offices became empty against the backdrop that the National Assembly had asked all the lawmakers in the Eight Senate, both out-gone and returning to go away with their settee, refrigerators, printing machines, typewriters, televisions, and water dispensers, among others.

The adjournment followed a motion moved by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege which was seconded by Senator Philip Aduda, PDP, FCT.

The adjournment according to the Senate President, would allow for the Management and Senate Adhoc Committee members put in place address the challenges and allocate offices and seats to the legislators.

Before the Eight Senate rounded off, the National Assembly had monetized all the equipment in the offices of the senators and asked them to go with them, even as N375,000 would at the end of the day be deducted from each Senator’s severance, while N350,000 would be deducted from each member of House of Representatives.

Non-composition of standing committees

The problem of lack of offices for the Senators to operate, has however stalled the composition of special committees that would have been running the affairs of the Ninth Senate in line with the Senate Standing Orders.

The special committees according to Senate Standing Orders 2015 as amended, are Selection, Rules and Business; Senate Services; Public Accounts and National Security and Intelligence.

With the inauguration of the 9th and emergence of both Lawan and Omo-Agege as Presiding officers, these special committees ought to have been announced in line with the Standing Orders, at the commencement of the life of the Senate to perform the functions allocated to them.

The first Committee that would have been put in place on Thursday was the Selection Committee.

Vanguard gathered that it was difficult to constitute the committee because the two parties, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, were yet to produce their principal officers.

Meanwhile, the PDP has come up with its list with Senators Enyinnaya Abaribe, Abia South as Minority Leader; Emmanuel Bwacha,Taraba South as Deputy leader; Philip Aduda, FCT as Minority Whip and Clifford Ordia, Edo Central as Deputy Minority Whip,  just as the list is yet to get to the Senate President because of the adjournment.

According to Chapter XIII, ( 97) -(1) (a) “There shall be a committee to be known as Committee of Selection appointed at the commencement of the life of the Senate to perform the functions allocated to it by these rules, and for such other matters as the Senate may from time to time refer to it.

“(b) The Committee on Selection shall consist of the Senate President, the Deputy Senate President, the Senate Majority Leader, Chief Whip, Deputy Majority Leader, Deputy Chief Whip, Minority Leader, Deputy Minority Leader, Minority Whip and the Deputy Minority Whip.

“ (c) the President shall be the Chairman of the Committee of Selection and in his absence, the Deputy President; (d) nominating Senators to serve on committees to consider any special matters brought before the Senate; (e) such Senators as may be going on parliamentary delegation other than Committees.”

When the Senate reconvenes on July 2, the day would be the 13th  Legislative day into the life of the Ninth Senate, meaning a day left which stipulates that this must be done at the commencement and within the first 14 legislative days.

Also according to Chapter XIII, 96 of the Standing Orders, “Within ‘the first fourteen legislative days following the first sitting of the Senate, the membership of the following Special Committees shall be appointed: (i) Committee of Selection, (ii) Committee on Rules and Business, (iii) Senate Services Committee, (iv) Committee on Ethics; Code of Conduct and Public Petitions, (v) Public Accounts Committee and (VI) Committee on National Security and Intelligence.”

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