Second Quarter Assessment of Akpabio’s 10th Senate (part 1) By Mon-Charles Egbo

Until there is a government that is purposeful in evaluating legislative inputs, especially resolutions, there shall be a deficit of good governance in Nigeria.


For example, the latest banditry attack on the Abuja-Kaduna highway and the spate of kidnapping that has overwhelmed the entire Federal Capital Territory could have been averted.


The Senate, in its first quarter, had declared what seemed a state of emergency on the road infrastructure. It developed “a compendium of all the affected Federal roads and erosion sites across the country either awarded but abandoned by contractors or have not been awarded at all, to be forwarded to the Executive Arm for urgent intervention”. Specifically, there was a provision for “increased security surveillance through deployment of more personnel and use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) such as drones, radars and scanners” on the Abuja-Kaduna expressway. Also, it expressed some proactive opinions aimed at making the entire FCT relatively secure.


However because the executive dismisses legislative resolutions as strictly advisory, the opportunities for the above unfortunate incidents were nurtured.


Nevertheless, one attribute of the 10th Senate is its consistency in demonstrating that the legislature is all about the good of the people. It is always deliberate in its obligations. It is not given to drama or grandstanding. Also, it is not interested in the quantity but in the quality of legislation, as long as the overall fulfilment of the citizens is attained. All these features indeed reflect the legislative agenda upon which Godswill Akpabio was elected the president of the senate.


Having started with the road infrastructure given its crucial nature to national development, the Senate, in the second quarter, deepened its interventions in this regard. Among others, it took the Bitumen Development Commission of Nigeria (Establishment) bill through a second reading and then initiated another to amend the Federal Highways Act as well as those for establishing the National Roads Fund and Erosion Control Commission respectively. The Senate again effected quick confirmation of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency managing director and board members. Also while adopting it “as part of Enugu State’s submission to the Committee on the Collapse of Road infrastructure in Nigeria”, the Senate urged “the federal government through FERMA to embark on the immediate reconstruction of the collapsed bridge at the Enugu end of the Enugu-Port-Harcourt Expressway”.


Equally on the FCT, the Senate created additional standing committees for integrated and broad-based interventions towards improving governance. They included the Committee on Federal Capital Territory Area Council and Auxiliary Matters whose jurisdiction entails a “review of all the laws establishing the structure and administration of the Area Councils in the FCT” and then, the Committee on Federal Capital Territory that focuses on “matters affecting the FCT, planning and development of the new FCT as well as “allocation of lands in the FCT”. Furthermore, the Senate, while urging “the FCT Minister to revisit the award of contract for the installation of CCTV cameras worth $500 million in and around the FCT” passed the FCT statutory supplementary budget and also introduced a bill to establish the FCT School of Nursing and Midwifery.


Other newly created committees were those on Atomic and Nuclear Energy, Sports Development, Youth and Community Engagements, Solid Mineral Development, Steel Development, Tourism as well as Culture, Art and Creative Economy. And for productivity, several bills were also proposed.


Then towards economic recovery and sustainable growth, the Senate commenced amendments to the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission Act, Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation Act, Federal Inland Revenue Service Act and the Price Control Act in addition to two other separate attempts on the Central Bank of Nigeria Act.


Particularly on the opportunities inherent in the emerging blue economy, the Senate expeditiously passed the bill for an Act to Establish the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State while the Nigerian Maritime Safety and Administration and the Merchant Shipping Acts amendments gained momentum.


And again, to “enhance sustainable socioeconomic relationships across the country and also promote national integration, and ultimately boost the economy and give a sense of belonging to all” the Senate activated the mechanism “to ensure that all the 4 Geopolitical Zones within the Eastern Rail Line Corridor (traversing Port-Harcourt to Maiduguri) benefit from the on-going Railways Standardization and Modernization Programme of the Federal Government”. It also proposed bills for the establishment of the South-East Development Commission and the North-Central Development Commission.


Intensifying its avowed commitment to protecting the citizenry, the Senate accorded significant attention to the two hydra-headed issues undermining the fight against insecurity namely the absence of coordination among the security agencies and the perception that certain security operatives secretly aid terrorism and banditry.


The basic areas of focus were the incessant “kidnapping for ransom in the North-West Geo-political Zone”, the spate of “Insurgency And Terrorism in Niger State”, as well as “the abduction of students of the Federal University, Dutsima, Katsina State”. Others were the attacks by armed robbers on banks and Oturkpo Police Command in Benue State and the Christmas Eve massacre of innocent citizens in Mangu and Barkin-Ladi areas of Plateau State which particularly reinforced the seeming culpability of the security operatives.


Extending its interventions to “the Displaced People of Gwer-West, Makurdi and Guma Local Governments” including the communal clashes between Ifon and Ilobu communities in Osun State as well as Ovonum and Ofatura in Cross River State, the Senate holistically investigated the reported “complexities of the security personnel and agencies that were supposed to protect and enforce security in the affected areas, but are harbouring and protecting the criminals”.


In the end, it recommended the development of “a National Policy document outlining the framework for an improved and streamlined synergy and coordination between the various security agencies” both military and paramilitary, and also “permanent presence of soldiers and other security agencies in Niger State to contain the upsurge of insecurity” in addition to challenging “the Nigeria Police and other relevant security agencies to unravel the mystery of lack of intelligence and alertness on the day of (Oturkpo) invasion”.


Furthermore, the Senate urged the federal government to “address the manpower deficit in the armed forces and the police, and equip them to discharge their functions effectively and efficiently” and also “to urgently address the twin problems of unemployment and poverty since these evils cause insecurity in Nigeria”.


Then specifically, it requested “the federal government to redeem the ten billion naira promise made to the people of Benue State to rebuild the destroyed communities by the immediate past Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo in 2018”, in addition to ensuring “quick return of the displaced persons to their ancestral homes and as well provide a sustainable security corridor to all flash points within the affected communities”.


Additionally, it called for the federal government’s urgent intervention through the relevant agencies per their respective mandates, particularly by setting up internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in the affected areas and providing necessary support to the communities affected”, such as deploying “security personnel……..and prevent any further escalation of the conflict”.


These positions ideally were complemented with the relevant legislation. While the National Security Adviser (Appointment of Staff, etc.) and the National Social Investments Programme Agency Act went through the second reading, amendments to the National Security Agencies Act and Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons Act as well as those for the Nuclear Safety Security and Safeguard, Documentation and Protection of Domestic Workers and Employers, Nigeria National Internship and Unemployment Benefit Scheme, Informal Sector Private Employment Agencies (Regulation) and the Federal Data Bank respectively were initiated.


In a related development, the Senate, within the period, dealt with three painful deaths, in different circumstances, of young Nigerians.


The first was one Ms Greatness Olorunfemi who lost her life on account of the alleged refusal of Maitama District Hospital, Abuja, to accept and treat her after being attacked and pushed out of a fast-moving vehicle by notorious ‘one chance’ operators. The second was a toddler, David Etim Udo, who fell from a school high-rise building at Emerald International School Aba, Abia State. The third was Chalya Silas, a 24-year-old NYSC member serving in Kaduna State who “was attacked and fatally stabbed by hoodlums while engaging in her regular morning jog”.


Lamenting such avoidable incidents, the senate strongly advised “all the hospitals in the country to comply with the provisions of the law by treating patients with gunshots without police report”. It followed it up with initiated amendments to the Compulsory Treatment and Care of Victims of Gunshots Act.


Also while calling on the federal government “to work relentlessly towards safeguarding the lives of its citizens” the Senate recommended that schools across the country should “relocate their crèche and nursery classes to the ground floor or bungalow within the premises” and also that government should “enforce safety protocols in schools as enshrined in the National Policy on Safety, Security and violence-free schools”.


Similarly, the Senate, through a motion on the “unlawful killings and incarceration of over 250 Nigerians in Ethiopia”, called for urgent intervention from the federal government.


Another area that challenged the responsiveness of the Senate was the growing menace of floods in the country. Motions were raised on the perennial challenges arising from the “un-dredged River Benue in Adamawa State, the “Flood-induced Damages caused by the wilful release of water from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroun”, as well as the disasters “in Ikosi-Isheri, Agboyi-Ketu and several other communities in Lagos and Ogun states”.


Though already working on a “comprehensive long term solution to address the problem”, the Senate resolved to “facilitate the inclusion of dredging of River Benue, Niger and other rivers in the 2024 Appropriation Bill to address the perennial flooding and its multidimensional consequences” and also the “construction of receptor dams including Dasin Hausa Dam proposed to be in Fufore local government area to curtail potential risk of excessive flood from the Lagdo Dam in Republic of Cameroun”. Above all, it introduced the bill to establish the National Flood Management Commission “to serve as a central body responsible for coordinating flood management activities nationwide”.


Still, on internal security, the Senate considered the Report of the Adhoc Committee on Abuse of Firearms by Officials of the Nigeria Customs Service resulting in extensive recommendations. Some of them included a reduction in “the multiple checkpoints mounted along corridors of border communities (to)enable free flow of goods, especially farm produce, in, around and out of these communities to the main towns and around the markets in the border communities”, investigation and review of “ the operational activities of Border Drill, the CGC Special Strike Force and Federal Operations Unit across the country” and a declaration that “ the act of harassing, shooting at innocent citizens, raiding markets and chasing smugglers into towns leading to chaos and loss of lives is unacceptable and barbaric in a modern Customs System”. Additionally, it recommended “that functional scanner equipment should be installed at all major land borders for import examination purposes” and also “that auctioning of legally seized items (rice, etc.) should be done promptly or in time to avoid contamination, depreciation or outright waste”.


Also, whereas further consideration of a motion on the re-opening of the Nigeria-Niger Republic Border “for economic advantages of the two countries” was suspended for wider consultations, the Senate called on “the federal government to press for a Two State Solution as a final and permanent solution to the Isreali-Palistanian crises as earlier agreed by the United Nations” towards saving the “lives and properties of innocent women, children and indeed humanity in general”.


Also during the period, there were processed petitions from victims of wrongful dismissal from public service and several other fundamental rights abuses and interestingly, that of a community that felt short-changed in the execution of government contracts.


Empirically, if the executive reviews the inputs from the legislature with an open mind the quality of governance will improve tremendously.



To be continued!




Egbo is a Parliamentary Affairs Analyst







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