Why North’s Senators Lag Behind—Smart Adeyemi
Sen. David Mark
Halfway into the tenure of the Senate, 34 senators have not sponsored any bill since coming to office, according to official records released by the Senate.
The Senate's Mid-Term Assessment Report shows that of the total 109 senators, 74 have sponsored at least a bill during the period starting June 2011 while the rest initiated none. Senate President David Mark sponsored no bill but, by convention, he is not expected to table any bill in his capacity as presiding officer of the Senate.
A Daily Trust analysis of the assessment report issued last month reveals that senators who did not sponsor any bill constitute about one-third of the upper chamber.
This is coming amidst public debate on the emoluments of Nigerian federal lawmakers, who a recent report by the Economist ranked top in a global chart of Economist ranked top in a global chart of legislators' salaries.
Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) records in possession of Daily Trust show that each senator is entitled to N35 million in yearly salaries and allowances.
Based on this alone, the 34 senators would have collectively received more than N1 billion in wages, apart from other hefty allowances received in quarterly installments.
Senators who did not sponsor any bill in the two years under review, according to the assessment report, include Jibrilla Mohammed Bindowo (PDP, Adamawa), Chris Ngige (ACN, Anambra), Babayo Garba Gamawa (PDP, Bauchi), George Akume (ACN, Benue), Maina Ma'aji Lawan (ANPP, Borno), Mohammed Ali Ndume (PDP, Borno), Ahmad Zannah (PDP, Borno), Nwanko Christopher (PDP, Delta), Oguji Sunny (PDP, Ebonyi) and Babafemi Ojudu (ACN, Ekiti).
Other senators with no bills are Mohammed Danjuma Goje (PDP, Gombe), Abdulazeez Usman (PDP, Jigawa), Ahmed Makarfi (PDP, Kaduna), Mohammed Sani Saleh (CPC, Kaduna), Kabiru Gaya (ANPP, Kano), Sadiq Yar'Adua (CPC, Katsina), Mohammed Magoro (PDP, Kebbi), Suleiman Adoke (PDP, Nasarawa), Solomon Ewuga (CPC, Nasarawa), Obadara Olugbenga Onoalapa (ACN, Ogun), Kunlere Boluwaji (LP, Ondo), Robert Boroffice (LP, Ondo), Olusola Adeyeye (ACN, Osun) and Hosea Agboola Ayoola (PDP, Oyo).
Also on the list are Magnus Abe (PDP, Rivers), Wilson Asinobi Ake (PDP, Rivers), Mohammed Maccido (PDP, Sokoto), Abubakar Umar Turare (PDP, Taraba), Aisha Jummai Alhassan (PDP, Taraba), Alkali Jajere (ANPP, Yobe), Bukar Abba Ibrahim (ANPP, Yobe), Ahmed Sani Yarima (ANPP, Zamfara), Sahabi Alhaji Ya'u (PDP, Zamfara) and Kabiru Garba Marafa (ANPP, Zamfara).
Since the inception of the seventh Senate on June 6, 2011, a total of 342 bills were introduced, with the first bill being tabled on June 28, 2011 by Senate leader Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (PDP, Cross Rivers) who also sponsored a total of 24 bills, placing him on top of the chart among senators. The last bill during the period was sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Gobir (PDP, Sokoto), tabled on June 5, 2013.
In terms of highest number of bills sponsored by an individual, Ndoma-Egba is closely followed by Senator Benedict Ayade (PDP, Cross Rivers), who introduced 18 bills in two years under review. Next is Senator Ita Enang (PDP, Akwa Ibom), who sponsored 12 legislations.
Three senators came fourth on the chart with 11 bills each to their names. They are Senators Smart Adeyemi (PDP, Kogi), Domingo Obende (ACN, Edo) and Ifeanyi Okowa (PDP, Delta).
Ganiyu Solomon (ACN, Lagos) introduced nine bills, while Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan (ANPP, Yobe), Odion Ugbesia (PDP, Edo) and Aloysius Etuk (PDP, Akwa Ibom) sponsored seven bills each during the period.
Hope Uzodinma (PDP, Imo) had six bills, Barnabas Gemade (PDP, Benue) six, Chris Anyanwu (APGA, Imo) five, while nine others sponsored four bills each.
The two senators who died within the period, Gyang Dantong (PDP, Plateau) and Pious Ewherido (DPP, Delta), had sponsored one and four bills respectively.
Some of the senators on the list, including Sadiq Yar'Adua and Solomon Ewuga, only came to the Senate last year after winning tribunal judgements.
Deputy Senate Leader Abdul Ningi's name did not appear on the list of senators who sponsored bills during the period, but he told Daily Trust that this must have been an omission because he initiated the NYSC bill in July last year.
Northern senators lag behind
An analysis of the midterm performance report show that although senators from the North are in the majority with 57 out of 109, they performed less than their counterparts from the South in terms of bills sponsorship.
Only 33 of the 57 Northern senators sponsored at least one bill in the two year-period under review while the remaining 24 had no single bill.
Of the total 342 bills introduced, 191 were sponsored by senators from the South, 85 bills sponsored by northern senators, 42 were Executive bills submitted by President Jonathan while 23 were forwarded from the House of Representatives for Senate's concurrence.
Speaking to Daily Trust in Abuja on the apparent lesser performance by Northern senators, Senator Smart Adeyemi, who is vice chairman of the Northern Senators Forum, said northern lawmakers performed less because most of them are inexperienced.
“It's because they are new and do not have experience, they spent two years learning and discovering what they should do,” he said.
“But by the time we come back in the next six months they will graduate. Each time we say people should return their legislators is because without experience they do nothing.”
Adeyemi added: “Nigerians need to be educated because even in the process of passing laws inexperienced person may not be able to quickly interpret what the law is intended for and how it will affect his constituents. So in making of laws, experience of legislators counts. If he is not experienced he may even raise his hand against a policy that may even help his people.”
Adeyemi, who sponsored 11 bills in the past two years, argued that although southern senators may be new, they are more experienced and educated than their colleagues from the North.
“If you take a look at most of the southern senators even though they are new, but they have legal background, many of them are lawyers and have been in administrations over the years,” he said.
“For me, one is my experience and also because I am a journalist. These give me a lot of advantage. The media must educate our people to appreciate the need to look at the calibre of people they elect into the National Assembly.”
“We're not short of laws”
Some of the senators who sponsored no bills during the two-year period gave explanations to Daily Trust on why this has been the case.
Kabiru Marafa said: “It's a matter of priority. Firstly, it's my first time in the Senate so I give myself time to learn the ways of the Senate. Secondly, I focused more on the primary needs of my constituents like unemployment, good governance and representation, security and the like. I will start thinking about bills when I see a genuine desire to implement or enforce the ones we have now.”
Makarfi said: “I don't believe in unnecessary sponsoring of bills or motions. We are not short of laws but implementation of laws. How many such sponsored bills have become laws? I believe we are missing the point and will not join in such futile projects.”
Zanna said: “We are preoccupied with what is happening in Borno State where we have been losing our people every day. Therefore, my attention is on my people and how to solve their problems.”
Ndume said: “Some bills and motions do not make sense at all. Some bring bills just to be credited to them. It does not make sense to bring bills seeking establishment of agencies and commissions at a time when government is trimming them down. I am sponsoring a bill on Constituency Development Fund which has been around for the past 10 years without legal backing.”
Ewuga, who came into the Senate after a court ruling last year, said: “I am just one year in the Senate now and the process of bill making is tedious even before it comes for first reading. I am conceptualising some bills but I don't rush my things.”