As Akpabio-led 10th Senate hits 100 days…

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Senate President Godswill Akpabio

As the 10th Senate led by Godswill Akpabio, hits 100 days on  Thursday this week (21/09/23), TAIYE ODEWALE examines the  issues and decisions that have shaped the red chamber so far 

Akpabio’s emergence as President of the 10th Senate 

Like other Senates before it, on the strength of proclamation made by President Bola Tinubu, the 10th National Assembly, was inaugurated on Tuesday, June 13, 2023 with emergence of presiding officers at both Chambers. 

Specifically, in the Senate at the inauguration coordinated by the Clerk of the National Assembly (CNA), Alhaji Sani Magaji Tambawal, Distinguished Senator Godswill Akpabio (APC Akwa – Ibom North West), emerged as President in a keenly contested election between him and Distinguished Senator Abdulaziz Yari (APC Zamfara West).

For record purposes, in the election, Akpabio across party lines, garnered 63 votes from fellow Senators while Yari scored 46 votes.

Being a position well prepared for and envisioned for good governance in  the country,  Akpabio after his election and emergence of the Deputy President of the Senate, Distinguished Senator Jibrin Barau (APC Kano North) unopposed; read an inaugural speech which subtly  set the agenda for the 10th Senate and by extension, the 10th National Assembly.

Take home from the speech 

The take home from the inaugural speech delivered by Akpabio as the President of the 10th Senate at inauguration about 100days ago, were servant and uncommon leadership he promised to offer fellow Distinguished Senators and Nigerians generally .

His words: “On my part, Distinguished Senators, I affirm that this leadership shall be yours. It shall be a servant leadership; it shall be an uncommon leadership. 

“To the Nigerian people, I say this:your dreams, your aspirations, and your well-being will be at the heart of everything we will do in this Senate. 

“I urge you to remain hopeful, steadfast and united. Nigerians must remember that the nation is caught up in global challenges and upheavals which have far-reaching consequences; the impact of armed conflicts in Europe and Africa, as well as global political and economic realignments, are but a few of these events impacting Nigeria, other countries in Africa and even beyond. 

“Our Senate will remain watchful of, and will be responsive to, these events.

“It is time now to go forward with the task set before us as a collective body – the promulgation of laws and enactments for the well-being and security of the country and as a check on the executive arm of the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in our oversight functions.

“Together, we shall reach and surpass the expectations of the Nigerian people regarding us and our roles in building a better, safer, more inclusive, prosperous, efficient and ethical country….”.

Practicality of servant and uncommon leadership 

Since 100 days out of 1,460 days tenureship of the 10th Senate and by extension, National Assembly, is too short a period for assessment of successes or failures,  leadership style or direction can however be assessed within the period.

As promised in his inaugural speech, Akpabio has within the last 100 days, demonstrated uncommon leadership as President of the 10th Senate.

The first of such is the new method he introduced for adoption of votes and proceedings of previous session of the Senate at the beginning of new plenary session.

Conventionally, before Akpabio ‘s Presidency, all the former Presidents of the Senate in the current 4th Republic from Senators Evans Enwerem to Ahmad Lawan, had in carrying out adoption of votes and proceedings, read out contents of the  votes and proceedings page by page to Senators  before calling for motions for adoption but Akpabio in the new method, just mention  pages of votes and proceedings to  be adopted to Senators for any observations before calling for motions for adoption.

The new method not only helped the Senate to save time in carrying out adoption of votes and proceedings of previous sessions  but also take the stress of reading  the votes and proceedings page by page away from the presiding officers be it, the President or Deputy President of the Senate.

The peculiarity of the leadership of the 10th Senate by Senator Akpabio also reflected in the way principal officers emerged among the 59  Senators on the platforms of  the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and 50 others, belonging to any of the six minority parties in the Senate.

Unlike in the past that emergence of such principal officers were done strictly based on nominations to that effect by National leadership of political parties, caucuses of the parties in the Senate, made the nominations without any rancour among Senators or crisis within affected political parties as experienced in the past.

Even the method through which ministerial nominees were announced in July and August, was uncommon with personal submission of list of the nominees to the Senate President in plenary by the Chief of Staff to the President as against the former practice of transmission  of letters from the President to the Senate President.

Inclusion of Saturday,  August 5, 2023 to other days of the week apart from Sunday (August 6, 2023), for screening and confirmation of the nominees, who are now, Hon Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; was also uncommon in the history of such legislative function by the Senate.

Interventions made so far on critical national issues 

Aside uncommon leadership in the Senate, Akpabio have also within the last 100 days, led the Senate to intervene on critical national issues for peace, progress and stability of the country.

Some of such interventions were the  hitherto planned 40% hike in electricity tariff, it made NERC to suspend, the decline by the Senate to approve military action against military junta in Niger, suspension of the Resident Doctors’ strike immediately after their engagement with the Senate President, the continued engagement with national leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (NUC) for industrial harmony in the country etc.

Rancour-free standing committees composition 

Like an icing on the cake, before embarking on annual long recess on  the 7th of last month, the uncommonly led Senate by Akpabio announced composition of 74 Standing Committees by naming their Chairmen and Vice Chairmen without any crisis since then, unlike what happened in the 8th Senate and some before it.

Little wonder that in his reaction to alleged plot by some Senators to impeach him as syndicated in most of the national dailies last  Saturday, Akpabio reacted by saying “the Senate is stable and harmonious and cannot be distracted by syndicated media attack”. 

However, as Senate resumes plenary from the long recess next week, its stability and harmony would be assessed better by Nigerians during and after inauguration of the 74 standing committees.