In any democratic nation, the Senate is seen as the highest law making organ of the country where issues that directly impact the everyday life of the citizen are discussed and are resolved through laws.
That is why in every part of the world where there is a dual legislature, the upper arm is always filled with people who are the best in their fields and as such have a firm grasp of the issues and how it can be solved.
Given that Nigeria is currently in the grip of a biting recession, many would expect that the Senate, being the upper legislative arm will propose and debate bills that will eventually bring about the much-needed succor to ordinary Nigerians.
Alas, in recent times, the Nigerian Senate seems to have deviated from this hallowed path and have allowed itself to deal in trivial issues rather than engaging in more pressing ones.
It is obvious that the Nigerian Senate is fast becoming more powerful by the day, a fact that seems to be the desire of its members who describe themselves as distinguished. Although it is a law-making body which puts it within the legislature, its posture sometimes makes it look like it also has both executive and judicial powers and that it can in fact control everyone else. Hence, it often dishes out instructions which it expects everybody to obey.
Penultiate week, the Nigerian Senate was the top item in the news following its face-off with the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Col. Hammed Alli (rtd), over his refusal to wear the uniform of the agency in his official duties. Alli was summond by the Senate to appear before it on Wednesday March 15th in his customs uniforms else he would be walked out of the chambers. Although Alli initially wrote a letter to the Senate asking for a rescheduling of his appearance, he later appeared in mufti on Thursday and he was consequently walked out of the Senate chambers.
Closely related to this is the issue of confirmation of the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which was the major news item last week. The story was that the Senate turned down the confirmation of Magu because it got a report from the Department of State Services (DSS) concerning some alleged wrong doings of the man.
The Senate could easily have handled the two situations in a better way than make a national drama out of both issues. As it stands, the only thing of note that Nigerians can remember that the Senate did last week was the face-off with Alli and the rejection of Magu as substantive EFCC Chairman.
Over the weekend, members of the Senate also made the news for the wrong reasons. There was a report by Sahara Reporters that the Senate’s grouse against Hammed Alli has its roots in the fact that Customs officials seized a bulletproof Range Rover Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) owned by Senate President Bukola Saraki.
Also, a member of the Senate, Senator Dino Melaye, also made the news over the weekend when he tweeted, “I have credible information that EFCC is trying to cook up allegations against me. Forensic check on all my accounts. I ready for una.” Not long after, the official EFCC twitter handle also posted, “Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind – William Shakespeare”.
As expected, Many Nigerians Nigerians have something to say about it with many saying the EFCC tweet was made in reply to the Senator.
At this point, it is important to note that scenarios like this does not in any way launder the image of the Senate. Of course, these are no doubt weighty issues which the Senate has publicised. But given the prevailing economic atmosphere, should these be high on the priority list of the Senate?
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