Senate minority leader, Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe on Wednesday kicked against the re- nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari of his Special Assistant on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie alongside five others for confirmation as National Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Before reluctantly supporting the decision of the Senate to refer the Presidential request to its Committee on INEC, Abaribe protested the resurfacing of Onochie’s name on the nomination list having been dropped almost eight months ago when it was first put forward.
He said “our people say, it is not when we have passed the Evil Forest that the demon will still catch us .
In seconding this motion we have dealt with the matter of Lauretta Onochie so we feel surprised that the same name has resurfaced no longer as a National commissioner but now as a Delta State Commissioner.
“Reluctantly I second the motion that this nomination be referred to the relevant committee for action and we shall meet in Philipi”
But Senate President, Ahmad Lawan quickly corrected Abaribe on the designation of the nominees as national commissioners and not resident commissioners.
Lawan said “before I put the question let me clarify an issue. The nominees are not State resident Commissioners. They are National Commissioners and there was no change, so they are not resident Electoral Commissioners. I think we need to clear that area”.
The leader of the Senate, Yahaya Abdullahi had read the Executive Communication from President Buhari requesting confirmation of the nominations of six nominees for appointment as Commissioner of INEC in accordance with paragraph 14 part 1(F) of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,as amended.
Nominated are; Prof Muhammed Sani Kallah (Katsina), Lauretta Onochie (Delta), Prof. Kunle Cornelius Ajayi (Ekiti), Saidu Babies Ahmad (Jigawa), Prof.Sani Muhammad Adam (North Central) and Dr. Baba Bila (North East).
Shortly after referring the nomination to its Committee on INEC for screening, the Senate President, Lawan gave a short speech enumerating achievements of the 9th Senate and opened the floor for comments by colleagues, starting with principal officers.
Abaribe who was expected to comment immediately after the Majority Leader, shockingly declined comment.
He said” Mr. President, I want to decline to comment on the assessment of the 9th Senate”.
Meanwhile, in a manner that suggested that Abaribe spoke for himself and not for the Minority Caucus, members of the Peoples Democratic Party spoke to the issue.
In what looked like replying to Abaribe, Sen. Gabriel Suswam (PDP Benue) said “if you have a problem and saying you won’t talk about it, that is not the solution”.
Suswam praised the 9th Senate for taking steps to achieve the agenda set for ourselves.
That the executive fails to implement some of our resolutions does not mean that we do not achieve . We can’t say that it is our fault , we have tried”.
Also, Sen. Chukwuka Utazi (PDP Enugu) appreciated the leadership of the Senate for executing it’s parliamentary duties and for engendering cordial relationship between the executive and legislative.
Senators Nicholas Tofowomo (PDP Ondo), Istifanus Gyan (PDP Plateau), Clifford Ordia (PDP Edo), were part of PDP lawmakers that spoke on personal ground.
During the special session to mark the second year anniversary of the 9th Senate, senators across board commended the leadership and membership of the Senate for performing above average and for not failing the expectations of Nigerians.
In a speech that captured the accomplishment of majority of the items on a comprehensive Legislative Agenda set to guide the 9th Senate in the pursuit of its mandates of lawmaking, representation and oversight, Lawan recalled that the Agenda was developed against the backdrop of an underperforming economy, security challenges, unemployment and a myriad of other socio-economic problems.
“The thrust of the Agenda was therefore to contribute solutions to those and other challenges and restore the hope of Nigerians in their country, and their confidence in its democratic institutions.
“The key focus areas of the Agenda are the economy, security, constitution amendment, anti-corruption legislation, judiciary reform, electoral reforms, and socio-economic development through poverty alleviation, jobs creation, education and healthcare. Permit me, therefore, to examine some of the interventions we have made in those areas”, said Lawan.
He said the Senate passed hundreds of bills, legislation, including confirmation of appointments for the Executive Arm of Government.
About 742 Bills were introduced during the two sessions of the Assembly, out of which 58 have been passed. 355 Bills have gone through first reading, 175 have gone through second reading and have been referred to the relevant committees for further legislative business, while 11 Bills referred by the House of Representatives for concurrence have also been passed. The Bills cut across all the sectors and touch most areas of needs in the lives of our citizens”.
On the economy, Lawan said the most significant interventions of the Senate in this sector is the restoration of the national annual budget to the January to December cycle which has made the nation’s fiscal plans more predictable and boosted the confidence of local and foreign investors in our economy.