EDITORIAL: Our Senate, Like Previous Ones, Has Gone Mad Again

“The Clerk of the National Assembly has sent a token to our various accounts to enable us all to enjoy our holidays.” These were the words of Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, during plenary on Monday, August 7. The “Uncommon President,” as his admirers affectionately refer to him, has recently made headlines for his remarks on the House floor while showing little or no consideration for the Nigerian people who are sacrificing to feed him and his pot-bellied politician friends who are living large on our national patrimony.

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For those familiar with the Nigerian Senate, it is an agglomeration of elites who see national assignments as a golden opportunity to milk the national cake for themselves and their cronies. No wonder former President Olusegun Obasanjo unswervingly described the arm as an “assemblage of looters and thieves”.

“Apart from shrouding the remunerations of the National Assembly in opaqueness and without transparency, they indulge in extorting money from departments, contractors, and ministries in two ways,” Mr. Obasanjo said.

“They do so during visits to their projects and programs and in the process of budget approval when they build up budgets for ministries and departments, who agree to give it back to them in contracts that they do not execute. They do similar things during their inquiries,” he also said.

In 2016, the former president argued that the purpose of election into the Legislative Assembly, particularly at the national level, was to give service to the nation and not for the personal service and interest of members at the expense of the nation, which seemed to have been the mentality, psychology, mindset, and practice within the National Assembly since the beginning of this present democratic dispensation.

He asked pointedly, “Where is patriotism? Where is the commitment? Where is service?”
He stated further, “The beginning of good governance, which is the responsibility of all arms and all the tiers of government, is openness and transparency.

In 2019, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC), in a report, accused federal lawmakers of working in connivance with executing agencies to steal billions of naira under the guise of constituency projects.

Fast forward: the 10th Senate President has not sufficiently demonstrated commitment to the job he campaigned for since clinching the mantle of leadership in the last two months. We wonder what could have made the Senate President exhibit so much disdain for the poor. Recall that the former also mocked poor Nigerians following the abrupt removal of subsidies by Bola Tinubu. It has now become the norm for the former Akwa Ibom Governor to hurt the poor by making a mockery of them on national television with no sense of remorse. This madness must stop!

Our “take a bow” Senate, just two months after their resumption, is going on a recess just for shouting take a bow, hi, and nay for two months. This is akin to resuming a new job, and after just 2 months in the role, you apply for a holiday to travel to any destination of your choice with a humungous token and other allowances from the organization, which is almost filing for bankruptcy.

The Senate should not have wasted taxpayers’ money to pay for the sitting allowance during the screening of the ministerial nominees. They would have just gone ahead to rubber stamp the list from the presidency rather than the show of shame, displayed in the full glare of Nigerians.

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The recent actions of the 10th Senate, including their abrupt recess after only two months of resuming work, raise concerns about their commitment to the responsibilities they campaigned for. The apparent lack of rigorous scrutiny of ministerial nominees with questionable records casts doubt on the Senate’s role as a guardian of good governance.
How the Senate will not grill nominees with cases of corruption, fraud, forgery, and other crimes is still a puzzle that will remain unsolved forever.

The same very holiday recess-seeking Senate has successfully screened and confirmed Mr. Bello Mattawale, former governor of Zamfara State, who had an F9 in Mathematics and English, SSCE as his highest qualification, and over 70 billion naira of fraud hanging around his neck.

Away from the Senate, the House of Representatives has been in the news recently for probing job racketeering in Federal Government agencies, ministries, and parastatals. The same crime for which members of the House of Representatives are guilty as charged The federal government’s MDAs also give employment slots to lawmakers during their secret employment process.

This is a known fact: the difference between the chairman of the Federal Character Commission and our Federal lawmakers is that, while the top guns at the ministry collect millions for employment slots, our Lawmakers collect allocations from these top guns and distribute them to their constituents free of charge and build political patronage.

The House of Representatives involvement in probing job racketeering while being implicated in similar practices underscores the hypocrisy that taints the Nigerian legislative body as a whole. The very lawmakers entrusted with upholding fair employment practices are still exploiting the system for their own political gains.

The Nigerian Senate’s recurring pattern of self-serving behavior and disregard for the welfare of the people has once again come to the forefront. The recent remarks by Senate President Godswill Akpabio and the overall behavior of the Senate reflect a disturbing trend of entitlement and a lack of accountability.

Allegations of corruption, poor financial management, and an apparent disconnect from the struggles of the common people have marred the Senate, which ought to be a platform for national service.

In the face of this ongoing cycle of self-serving behavior, it is crucial for Nigerian citizens to demand greater transparency, accountability, and ethical conduct from their elected representatives. Only through sustained public pressure and a commitment to genuine service can the Nigerian Senate and legislative institutions hope to break free from this pattern of madness and work towards more just and equitable governance for all.