10 June 2019

Nigeria: A 'Workaholic' Set to Take the Gavel

opinion

Barring any unforeseen situation, tomorrow, Tuesday June 11, Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan representing Yobe North is set to emerge President of 9th Senate of the 9th National Assembly. He will become the first politician from a core northern state to head the Senate and indeed the legislative arm of government since 1999. The Northern region had only produced Senator David Mark from the north central state of Benue, as President of Senate (2007-2015), while the south east had produced all the other Senate presidents from 1999-2007.

Lawan's emergence is however more significant than mere geographic political accomplishment. Far more important, this is the first time a lawmaker that has crossed from the green chamber is rising to lead the red chamber in the bicameral National Assembly. The incoming President of Senate was a member of the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007, when he won election into the Senate. This could prove vital to the quest for stable legislative processes that requires concurrent due diligence by both chambers.

As an experienced lawmaker with twenty years consistency in parliamentary business, the rise of Lawan in the murky waters of Nigeria's politics may still remain a mystery to many political observers. It is worthy of note that Lawan's personality benefitted largely from years of conscious preservation of self-integrity, hard-work and exceptional capacity and energy to deliver. Past leaders of both chambers of the National Assembly since 1999, will attest to the fact that Lawan is a goal getter, a reliable lawmaker and one that could easily be described as a 'workaholic'.

This writer had on several occasions encountered the incoming Senate President reporting to duty at weekends and on public holidays. In most instances with sleeves rolled or where it was native wear, the 'babariga' removed leaving the more work-friendly inner kaftan, while a busy Lawan took-on files and legislative documents. By his work ethics and approach to legislative business, the 9th National Assembly maybe blessed to have a man that will personally drive productivity, ensuring that the people get value for their money. With Lawan there will certainly be a National Assembly that works for Nigerians.

Lawan's experience cut across the most essential aspect of human development indices and approaches that are urgently required for Nigeria's rapid socio-economic advancement. The focus for the Lawan's Senate is imperatively poverty reduction, jobs creation, security and fight against corruption. Incidentally, these key areas are fulcrum of the President Muhammadu Buhari's Next Level agenda.

With his background as former chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture, the incoming Nigeria's third highest political office holder, apparently understands the importance of creating enabling laws that would grow the economy and provide jobs through agriculture production and value chain development. In recent years, tremendous progress has been recorded through President Buhari's agricultural revolution. However, the National Assembly may need to apply more grease to the wheels of progress in that sector by reviewing existing laws and creating new ones to drive the process of attaining industrial development of food self-sufficiency. To this end, Lawan's experience will come handy to assist the executive in making Nigeria a net exporter of primary and secondary agriculture products.

In fighting corruption, President Buhari will have a formidable ally in Ahmad Lawan. While he served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Lawan strengthened the hands of the Auditor General of the Federation in ensuring accountability in public spendings. Heads of private and public agencies that had reasons to appear at the Senate Hearing Room 4 from 2007 to 2015 can best recount the fact that it was never a tea party. Queries raised in the Auditor General's annual report formed basis for the work of the SPAC, which Lawan empowered. The SPAC under Lawan remained an incorruptible panel, which did not only insist that public funds were spent appropriately but that the people got value for the money.

Aside serving as chairman of SPAC for eight years, the incoming Senate President also chaired an ad-hoc committee that investigated the privatization programme under former President Olusegun Obasanjo. The probe conducted during the 7th Senate (2011-2012) unraveled several infractions in the deals that saw Nigeria part with many public companies and assets. At the end of that exercise, the Senate adopted the entire recommendations of the panel. The Executive arm of government under then former president Goodluck Jonathan also implemented part of the recommendations.

The most recent experience of Senator Lawan as chairman Senate Committee on Defence will also play a critical role to his contribution in tackling insecurity in the land. Lawan also chaired an ad-hoc committee that considered ways of reviewing the country's security architecture, which has been over-stretched by emerging crimes, including terrorism, kidnappings and banditry.

The incoming Senate president is a well-grounded lawmaker with the ability to steer the ship of the National Assembly towards delivering the country to the Next Level of development. The destination is to evolve a modern industrialized nation that thrives on peace and equal opportunities for all its citizens. The journey to that desired level sets sail tomorrow.

Abdulrahman sent in this piece from Kaduna.

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