23 May 2019

Nigeria: As Saraki's Memorable Eighth Senate Winds Up

Within a few days, the Eighth National Assembly with the President of the Senate, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki as its Head, will wind up.

For the Senate and its bicameral peer, the House of Representatives, it has been an action-packed four years, with serial high dramas from the very first hours after their inauguration.

The emergence of Saraki and his counterpart, Yakubu Dogara, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, emblematised the independence of the Legislative arm.

They outwitted the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and forged alliances with their colleagues in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to install themselves.

That also made it possible for the PDP to produce the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu.

This helped set the tone for one of the frostiest relationships between the National Assembly and the Presidency, with Saraki bearing the full brunt of onslaughts from the former.

For the first time in our history, the Head of the Federal Legislature was put in the dock when in September 2015 Saraki was charged with the alleged false declaration of assets as Governor of Kwara State by the Code of Conducts Tribunal, CCT. He won the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

Also in September 2018, he was implicated in the bloody Offa robbery incident by former Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris.

The principal suspects later exonerated him. All efforts to get him and Dogara removed from office failed, though Saraki eventually lost his re-election bid during the 2019 general elections, having decamped back to the PDP.

In spite of these intrigues and internecine power-plays, the Eighth National Assembly still managed to pass 293 bills as at May 7, 2019 and treated 192 petitions.

It is also on record that President Muhammadu Buhari rejected more than 30 bills brought before him for assent between 2018 and 2019 alone.

The most notable of these was the Electoral Amendment Bill 2018 which sought to legitimise the use of the Card Reader for accreditation and the enforcement of electronic transfer of results from the polling centres.

Had Buhari assented to this Bill it would have minimised the controversy surrounding the 2019 elections?

As we await the inauguration of the Ninth Senate, we hope the independence of the Federal Legislature will be maintained without compromising the smooth operation of governance.

While we wish Saraki well in his future endeavours, we call on the law enforcement agencies to eschew witch-hunting and pursue any residual issues they have with him within the ambit of the law.


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