Akpabio’s Senate, Its Bills And The People By Oluwaseun Adedigba

Popular American Basketballer, Kobe Bryant is known for many of his quotes. The one that interests me the most is the one in which he stressed the importance of giving inspiration to a people and how that could make them become great at whatever they do.


Bryant has never been a legislator, at least, not yet, but he seemed to have summed up the whole essence of lawmaking- giving the people the legal framework for greatness, giving a nation the right direction through legislation.


Interestingly, Senator Mohammed Ogoshi Onawo, representing Nasarawa South, is a lawmaker, but he seemed to disagree with Bryant on the importance of people.


At least, his recent action on the floor of the Senate, in which he challenged the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, portrayed him as such.


Could the Distinguished Senator have been ignorant of the Senate rules on passage of bills, did he merely play to the gallery or was out to show that he too, could challenge the Senate President?


These were the questions observers of Senate proceedings on that legislative day would have asked silently.


For those who missed Senator Onawo’s show, this is a summary of what transpired. Last Thursday, the Senator took Nigerians by surprise with his unwarranted outburst against the decision of the Akpabio-led Senate to pass some bills with direct impact on the lives and existence of Nigerians.


Not a few watchers of parliamentary proceedings within and outside the chamber were shocked and disappointed by the Senator’s public advertisement of crass ignorance of parliamentary engagements when it comes to passage of some bills.


While campaigning for the office of the President of the 10th Senate few months ago, Akpabio was reported to have reiterated that the Senate under his watch, would work for the people and would “rubber stamp” any bill that is intended to make life meaningful for Nigerians. The former Governor had placed the emphasis of this commitment on “making life meaningful for Nigerians” and not the rubber stamp, which in parliamentary understanding means a weak and ineffective legislature that does not do the due diligence on bills.


So far, the Akpabio-led Senate has shown Nigerians whose side it is on; it has been excellent in asking the right questions on bills and appointments of the Executive while also keeping the solemn pledge he made while soliciting the support of his colleagues and his party; the All Progressives Congress (APC).


But on the last parliamentary day for the week, Senator Onawo, tried to no avail to dent the good credentials of Senator Akpabio and slow the progress of the Senate by dissenting on the decision of the Senate to speed up the hearing and passage of some bills intended to positively affect the lives of Nigerians.


Expectedly, his insensitive reaction to the Senate decision drew some very potent flaks from the people on the streets, who described his stance as insensitive and anti-people.


Is the Senator guilty of a public display of hatred against the people? Could he be relishing the current situation and economic conditions the people are going through since the removal of the subsidy on petrol and could he be determined to do anything within his powers to perpetuate their sufferings or he only acted due to ignorance? These are the other unasked questions.


“How did a character like that find his way into the hallowed chamber of the 10th Senate, whose leadership has been in a solemn social contract with Nigerians? Why would he try to frustrate a Senate that has decided to expedite parliamentary actions intended to better the living standard of the people?,” Mr Felix Dexter, a public analyst had queried while responding to Onawo’s outbursts.


While most of his colleagues were seen disappointingly watching and listening to his anti-people submission, Senator Ali Ndume, a known and respected voice in the Senate, came to his rescue.


Ndume took it upon himself to lecture Onawo, on parliamentary procedures, proceedings and processes, as regards a situation that would demand the attendance of all Senators before a decision could be taken and the one that demands only two-thirds majority of those physically present at Plenary for a decision to be taken.


Whether Ndume’s explanation went down well with the Nasarawa South Senator, remains a matter of conjecture, but thanks to the experienced Senator Ndume, he took the pains to lecture Onawo on the rules and procedures of the Senate on issues that has to do with the passage of some bills.


Though I have never been a fan of Akpabio, his mien and mature disposition to the needless and attempted tar on his person and office by his colleague, no doubt caught my attention.


The Senate President wowed me. By his reaction, I can say and rightly so, that Akpabio is not just a politician, he is a mature and highly experienced one, who knows his onion. His reply to Senator Onawo, speaks volumes about his personality.


Despite the attempt by his colleague to bring down the revered office of the President of the Senate, through uncomplimentary and vexatious remarks, Akpabio kept his cool and candour but had just a few words for his colleague, who had said that whatever actions Akpabio has so far taken as the President of the Senate, history would judge him, especially on finance bills.


According to Akpabio, “If the bills you say we are passing at the speed of light, are in the interest of the people, history will judge me right, because nobody would sit down here to pass bills that would negatively impact on the lives of the people .”


And are those not just the right words from a noble and people-centred leader? I doffed my cap for Akpabio and I am sure Nigerians would also appreciate him, while also putting Onawo in their records for his role at this trying period in their lives.





Adedigba writes from Ikire, Osun State.

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