Last week, the Senate, in what appears to be a big national surprise, rejected President Muhammadu Buhari’s bill for the amendment of the newly signed Electoral Act, 2022.
We picked two other stories from the National Assembly for your reading pleasure.
1, Senate’s bold rejection
On March 9, Senators, in a voice vote, overwhelmingly said no to Buhari’s request to amend clause 84(12) of the electoral law, stopping the amendment at its second reading.
“No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election,” the clause reads.
The bold rejection dilutes the overwhelming feeling that the National Assembly is a rubber-stamp legislative chamber. From all indications, the disposition of Senators is deemed to restore confidence in Nigeria’s democracy, and strengthen the institutions on which this system of governance stands.
Though latest developments show that the judiciary has shut down the contentious clause 84, it, nonetheless, lends support to the argument that democracy will only thrive if it is founded on the rule of law.
It remains to be seen if the order of the lower court would be appealed.
NASS MEMORY LANE
“The working conditions of staff, and inmates’ welfare have deteriorated notwithstanding the over N165 billion budget allocations to the service in the last two years. The arms squad unit of the service still parades obsolete, and substandard weapons despite over N1 billion budget provision for prison biometrics, arms and ammunition in the 2020/2021 capital budget…”
Answer: See end of post
Two other stories
2, Ekweremadu seeks Enugu governorship
Senator Ike Ekweremadu, on March 11, declared his intention to contest the 2023 governorship election in Enugu State.
Ekweremadu, who represents Enugu West Senatorial District, announced his governorship ambition at a media briefing in Enugu. “The governorship of Enugu State will offer me a good platform to serve our dear State more and better,” he assured.
The former Deputy Senate President’s governorship ambition would, surely, make the political race competitive, and interesting.
Though Ekweremadu’s ambition has been seen as a well orchestrated strategy designed to help him leave the Red Chamber on a high, having spent almost two decades there, many have described his move as too self-centered given its potential to disrupt the charter of equity structured by the Enugu ruling class to give every zone a sense of belonging.
Certainly, eyes will be fixed on how his ambition would turn out in 2023.
3, Lawan’s pacifying words
On March 10, the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, admonished women not to lose hope in their demand for a review of the five gender-based bills rejected by the Senate.
Speaking in Kogi State, Lawan was quoted by his media aide, Ola Awoniyi, to have said “I know somebody will say gender bills have failed in the National Assembly. That is democracy. Let’s continue to lobby. We should continue to lobby because nobody will like to undermine anybody. Let’s not lose hope.”
Lawan’s statement, no doubt, is aimed at calming frayed nerves following Senate’s rejection of 5 gender-based bills. But are his pacifying words enough? Perhaps, no. And, this is because the Nigerian state has shown itself as typically patriarchal.
As it stands, Nigerian women, and the expanded civil society groups, cannot afford to back off. Only a sustained push will do even as positive outcomes may take a while to achieve.
Answer: Ndudi Elumelu
Elumelu, a Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, made the statement on February 16, 2022. He represents Aniocha North/Aniocha South/Oshimili North/Oshimili South Federal Constituency of Delta State.