Senate holds special anniversary session

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

Nigerian Senate

The Nigerian Senate on Friday held a special session to mark its two years anniversary as the 8th Assembly of the country’s legislature which came on board on June 9th, 2015.

In his anniversary address, President of the Senate Dr. Bukola Saraki recalled that the 8th Senate has recorded outstanding achievements in two years, describing the passage of nearly a hundred Bills, and over seventy petitions as “revolutionary.”

According to him, the passage of Bills like the petroleum industry governance Bill (PIGB),that will see to the reform of the NNPC, are part of the evidence of the lawmakers’ commitment to fast tracking Nigeria’s development.

“Distinguished Colleagues, our invited guests, today is an historical day for many reasons. First of all, today marks a celebration of our deliberative democracy and the immense opportunity to be part of an enduring legacy of political tolerance, engagement, participation and commitment. We are two year on this saddle and it has been two years of productive lawmaking period.

 “While acknowledging the great work our predecessors had done before us, let me put on record that this current Senate has made progress on every front and therefore deserve to mark this day as a special day. Today, the 8th Senate has passed 96 bills and 72 petitions in just 2 years eclipsing the highest ever in the history of the National Assembly, a record held by the 5th Senate after passing about 65 bills and 6 petitions respectively within the same time period.”

In his remarks, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu said the leaders of the Senate had faced difficult times since their inauguration two years ago. According to him, “On the 9th of June, 2015, at about this time, the unexpected happened. We were here to elect the Senate President and the Deputy Senate President.

There were about 74 of us here. Out of them, 49 were PDP and 59 were APC. One APC senator had died prior to the swearing in. When the votes were cast for the Deputy Senate President, I scored 54 votes and one of our colleagues who contested with me – Senator Ali Ndume – had 20 votes. The implication therefore is that people voted across party lines and desired to determine who would be their presiding officers.

“Thereafter, you will recall that we were arraigned for forgery of our own rules, even when nobody said we did so in the proof of evidence that was submitted before the court. And for the Senate President, his trial and persecution have continued till this day. At some point, we decided that we would never be distracted. We insisted that even when his trial (at the Code of Conduct Tribunal) was going on, we should ensure that the Senate sits and continue with our assignments while he faces his ordeal.”

The Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, also recalled how the minority Peoples Democratic Party caucus could have hijacked Senate’s presidency from the majority APC. He said, “The Deputy Senate President has spoken that yes, indeed, the Senate had remained bipartisan from the inception, particularly when he was voted as Deputy Senate President and we were just 49 senators from the minority and he had 54 votes.

“I also want to congratulate the Senate President who was elected unopposed because on that very day he was the sole candidate and there was no need for voting. I must congratulate my family – the PDP – for not showing greed because if we had shown greed on that day we would have produced the Senate President. “Recall that when one of you (PDP members) came to me and said, ‘look at the chamber, we double the APC in numbers. Let us nominate somebody for the Office of the Senate President.’ But I cautioned him and said ‘no, let us not do that.’

“I agree that despite the teething problems that we started with, your leadership acumen has molded us together.”

In an interview with Voice of Nigeria, Senate President of the 2nd Republic, Senator Joseph Wayas, while applauding the present generation of lawmakers for their achievements so far, urged them to ensure there is continuity in the political system as a way to entrenching democratic culture in the country.

The 8th Nigerian Senate was inaugurated on the 9th of June, 2015, and the 2nd anniversary special session was attended by some of the past leaders of the red chamber, members of the National Executive of the ruling party, the APC and the Senate President of the 2nd Republic, Senator Joseph Wayas.