The Sun Gradually Sets For the 1979 Assembly of Senators, By Eric Teniola
During his tenure in the ational Assembly, Senator Ayomide Fasanmi sponsored eight bills, all related to health management. He was a Pharmacist. He never missed any sitting of the Senate. Among the senators who served between 1979 and 1983 and who are still alive are the former Senate president, Dr. Joseph Wayas (Ogoja), Senator Ahmed Zakari (Kano North-East), Senator Jubrin Salihu (Agaie/Lapai), Senator Suemo Chia (Benue East)…
With the passage of Senator Ayomide Fasanmi (September 27, 1925 to July 29, 2020) the number of the ninety-five senators, who served between October 1979 to October 1983, still alive, has been reduced. I covered that Senate until Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.; GCFR) terminated democracy in Nigeria on December 31, 1983. Senator Fasanmi contested the Ondo State gubernatorial primaries of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in 1979 along with Chief Adekunle Michael Ajasin (November 28, 1908 to October 3, 1997). He lost in the primaries held at Omolere Primary School, along Ado-Ekiti road in Akure. That was when the present Ekiti State was still part of the old Ondo State. His campaign manager at that time was Chief Adebayo Adefarati (February 14, 1931 – March 29, 2007). After the gubernatorial election, which Chief Ajasin won, he eventually invited Chief Adefarati to be a commissioner in his cabinet. He was said to have been impressed with the loyalty that Chief Adefarati showed to Chief Fasanmi during the primaries. In due course, Chief Fasanmi was elected as senator for Ondo North in 1979. Chief Adefarati later becaome the elected governor of Ondo State in 1999. Between 1979 and 1983, Senator Fasanmi was a member of the Senate committee on health and social services. He was also a member of the Senate committee on public works. Senator Fasanmi was a front bencher in the Senate, sitting along with Senators Jonathan Akinremi Olawole Odebiyi (Egbado North-South), Abraham Aderibigbe Adesanya (Ijebu North-East), Cornelius Olatunji Adebajo (Kwara Central) and Emmanuel Idahosa Akpata (Bendel Central).
During his tenure in the National Assembly, Senator Ayomide Fasanmi sponsored eight bills, all related to health management. He was a Pharmacist. He never missed any sitting of the Senate. Among the senators who served between 1979 and 1983 and who are still alive are the former Senate president, Dr. Joseph Wayas (Ogoja), Senator Ahmed Zakari (Kano North-East), Senator Jubrin Salihu (Agaie/Lapai), Senator Suemo Chia (Benue East), Senator Hamisu Musa (Kano South-West), Senator Onyeabo Obi (Anambra West), Senator Kunle Oyero (Abeokuta/Ifo/Ota), and Senator Ameh Ebute (Benue South-Central). Also, Senator Bello Bakori (Malumfasi/Funtua), Senator Iliya Galiya Audu (Wukari), Senator Ahmadu Ada Alli (Benue West) – former Chairman of the PDP, and Senator Olatunji Cornelius Adebayo (Kwara), who later became the governor of Kwara State in 1983 and also served as a minister under President Olusegun Obasanjo (GCFR). Equally alive are Senator Mohammed Girgiri Lawan (Borno North-West), a successful business man who transverses Abuja, Kano and Maiduguri these days, and is a highly polished and detribalised Nigerian; Senator Stephen Adebanji Akintoye (Ondo Central), a new voice now in the Yoruba cause; Senator David Olatubosun Oke (Ondo West) from Igbara-Odo in the present Ekiti State, who I understand is in Ireland; Senator Michael Atijosan Emmanuel Onunkun (Ondo West), an elder stateman, now in Ondo South Senatorial district; and Senator Abba Ali (Katsina/Dutsinma), a classmate and childhood friend of President Muhammadu Buhari, and a member of the present Federal Judicial Commission and of the APC Caretaker Committee.
Among those who have departed include Senators Muhtari Abdularim (Sokoto East), Mubashir Akanbi O. Abiru (Ikorodu), Andrew Abogede (Benue North-Central), Ademola Adegoke (Oyo), Ayoola Adeleke (Osun II), Christopher ‘Laogun Adeoye (Osun I), Abraham Aderibigbe Adesanya (Ijebu North-East), Olalere Adesina (Ibadan), Muhammed Musa Agwai (Lafia/Akwanga/Awe), Mohammed Uba Ahmed (Bauchi South-East), Adeyiga Omopenu Ajayi (Ikeja), Victor Akan (Eket), Nathaniel N. Anah (Anambra South), Isaiah Nnamani Ani (Anambra North), Joseph Ogua Ansa (Calabar), Tony Anyanwu (Owerri) and F.O.M. Atake (Bendel Delta). Also, Obafemi Ayantuga (Epe), Umara Bama (Borno East), Ibrahim Barau (Ikara/Zaria/BirniGwari), Garba Musa Dada (Minna/Kagara), David Omueye Dafinone (Bendel South), Usman Alto Dambatta (Kano North-Central), George Asuquo Daniel (Uyo), Yusuf Aliyu Daura (Daura/Mani/Kankiya), Ibrahim Dimis (Bauchi South), Abayomi Adeyosola Durosinmi (Badagry), Oyibosiya Eberewariye (Rivers/Degema), Emeka Patrick Echeruo (Okigwe), Francis John Ellah (Rivers II (Ahoada/Ikwerr/Etche), Elijah Ebonine Emezie (Orlu) and Donald Dick Etiebet (Ikot Ekpene).
Others who have passed on comprise Ayo Fasanmi (Ondo North), Garba Gada (Sokoto North), Aliyu Mohammed Gani (Kwara North), Adamu Gaya (Kano South), Gayus Gilama (Numan), Nosike Ikpo (Bendel East), Christopher Oladosu Ilori (Ife/Ilesha), Idrisa Kadi (Borno North-Central), Bitrus Bzigu Kajal (Mubi), Ibrahim Kolo (Bida), Garba Kware (Sokoto Central), Daniel Adetola Ladega (Ijebu-Ode/Ijebu Remo), Jacob Kure Madaki (Kachia/Jemaa/Saminaka), Ja’Afar Mangga (Borno South), Garba Matta (Pankshin/Mangu/Kanam), Abubakar Mogaji (Suleja/Formerly Abuja), Abdullah Muazu (Kontagora), Hamisu Musa (Kano South-West), Haruna Muza (Sokoto West), Cyrus Nwidonane Nunieh (Rivers IV (Bonny/Bori) and Offia Nwali (Anambra East).
Among the 1979 group of senators who are now deceased are Isa Obaro (Kwara South), Jonathan Akinremi Olawole Odebiyi (Egbado North-South), Emmanuel Kayode Ogunleye (Ondo East), Simeon Mba Ojukwu (Umuahia), Basil Charles Okwu (Anambra), Justus Olabode Olu (Kwara South-East), John Wash Pam (Jos), Ahmadu Damyama Rufai (Bauchi Central), Abdulkadir Yalwaji Saleh (Bauchi North), Bukar Sanda (Borno West), Abubakar Olusola Saraki (Ilorin/Asa), Sikiru Ayodeji Shitta-Bey (Lagos), Samuel Olu Sogbein (Odeda/Obafemi/Owode), Joseph Sarwuan Tarka (Benue East-Central), John Osiomole Umolu (Bendel North), Jaja Anucha Wachukwu (Aba), Obi Wali (Rivers I(Port Harcourt), Ibrahim Jalo Waziri (Bauchi East), Mahmud Waziri (Adamawa), Thomas Yepwi (Keffi/Nasarawa), Luka Zanya Zing (Muri), Amatai Zuofa (Rivers III(Brass/Sagbama/Yenogoa), Hassan Zuru (Sokoto North) and Sabo Bakin Zuwo (Kano Central).
The clerk of the National Assembly then, Alhaji Gidado Idris (GCON); the clerk of the Senate, Mr. A.A. Coker; as well as the clerk of the House of Representatives, Mr. B.I. Olinmah have also passed on.
In 1979, the Senate adopted 37 resolutions, while in 1980 it adopted 58 resolutions, and in 1981 it adopted 97 resolutions. In 1982, it adopted 42 resolutions and in 1983, 29 resolutions were adopted. Each senator was paid N3,000 per month and entitled to only five aides, namely one legislative aide on level 12, one confidential secretary on level 8, a typist on level 4, a clerical officer on level 4, and a messenger on level 2. Each member of the National Assembly at that time was given accommodation at the 1004 Estate on Victoria Island, Lagos, and they could seek healthcare in the medical facilities at the 1004 Estate. At that time, the Medical Centre at 1004 was headed by Dr. Chris Ngige, who is at present the minister of Labour and Productivity. Top federal civil servants were equally given accommodation at the 1004 Estate. It was the then Senate that approved the following as members of the Federal Electoral Commission, with Mr. Justice Victor Erereko Ovie-Wiskey appointed as the Chairman. These members were Chief J.B.C. Anyeagbuna (Anambra), Mrs. Ethel Onwu (Anambra), Alhaji Ahmed Kari (Bauchi), Mr O.I. Afe (Bendel), Brigadier L.N. Obeya (Bendel), Alhaji Mustapha Umara (Borno), Mr. R.F. Uko (Cross River), Mr. A.N. Adumanu (Imo), Alhaji Liman Umaru (Kwara), Mrs. Husa Iro Luko (Kaduna), Alhaji Aminu Salihu (Kaduna), Alhaji Mohammadu Mashabaru (Kano), Alhaji Zubairu Dandatta (Kano), Dr. (Mrs.) Mabadeje (Lagos), Alhaji Umaru Audu (Niger), Dr. Lateef O. Aremu, Alhaji M.B.Ibrahim (Plateau), Mrs E.A. Pam (Plateau) and Alhaji Garba Jabo (Sokoto).
The Senate also approved the following as members of the Code of Conduct Bureau: Alhaji Isa Kaita (chairman), Alhaji Nadu Maibe (member), Alhaji Hassan Lemu (member), Alhaji Zubairu Mahammud (member) and Mr. Boniface Chibunna Nwakanma (member). Other members were Mrs F.M. Sowole, Mr. Moses Olarenwaju Egundeyi Alhaji Usman Bichi, Reverend Akpan Ukpong, Alhaji Isa Iko, Mr. Agan Dankoro and Chief A.B. Batubo.
They also approved the following as ambassadors: Mr. Baba Gana Kingibe (Borno), Mr. I.J. Sagay (Bendel), Mr. Y. Abdullahi (Plateau), Mr. J.E.U. Ekong (Cross River), Mr. G.O. Okany (Anambra), Mr. E.O. Sanu (Oyo), Mr. A.K. Mohammed (Borno), Mr. M.A. Carpenter (Sokoto), Mr. M.L. Rafindadi (Kaduna), Mr. A.M.S. Imam (Kwara), Mr. O. Akadiri (Ondo), Mr. I.D.O. Sokoya (Ogun), Mr. O. Oshodi (Lagos), Mr. O.O. Adesola (Lagos), Mr. H.B. Musa (Plateau), Mr. P.L. Udoh (Cross River), Mr. P.B. Loroye (Rivers), Mr. O. Ani (Ondo), Dr. L.A. Fabunmi (Ondo), Mr. P.O. Nnochiri (Imo) and Mr. M.S. Umar (Bauchi). Also, Mr. E. Fowora (Ogun), Mr. Musa M. Bello (Kwara), Mr. A.D.I. Blankson (Rivers), Mr. L. Metteeden (Kano), Dr. G. Ijewere (Bendel), Mr. I. Chinade (Bauchi), Mr. L.S.M. Osobase (Bendel), Mr. J.K. Umar (Kaduna), Mr. E.O. Kolade (Ogun), Mr. H.I. Emenyi (Cross River), Mr. A.A. Mohammed (Kano), Mr. O.O. Fafowora (Oyo), Mr. G.A. Falase (Oyo) and Mr. A. D. Gadau (Bauchi).
Also approved and confirmed by the Senate were the members of the Federal Civil Commission, with Alhaji Bagudu Shettima (Niger) as the chairman. Other members were Mr. Muritalabi Ashorobi (Lagos), Alhaji M. Bayero (Gongola), Mr. Ben M. Chukwudebe (Anambra), Mr. Eyoma Ita Eyoma (Cross River), Mr. Baguda Hirse (Plateau), Dr. Othaman Ladan-Baki (Kaduna), Alhaji A.A. Jimoh (Kwara) and Alhaji Aliyu Maru (Sokoto).
On December 31, 1983, Brigadier Sani Abacha (GCFR), who announced the overthrow of President Shehu Shagari declared that “the clerk of the National Assembly (Alhaji Gidado Idris), the president of the Senate and speaker of the House of Representatives shall, within two weeks, render account of all the properties of the National Assembly.” After hearing the announcement I said to myself, Brigadier Sani Abacha must have been misinformed about the activities of the National Assembly. No member of the National Assembly was earning more than N3,000 per month and there was no financial autonomy, no constituency projects to be executed by them. Unlike now, they did not blackmail or force the ministers to give them contracts and neither did they attempt to run the federal ministries and agencies. Except for the president of the Senate, the speaker of the House of Representatives and their deputies, none of them had official cars.
I remember when the three conference halls were to be built in the National Assembly, Alhaji Gidado Idris wrote an official letter to the then minister of Finance, Professor Matthew Esang, from Oron, now in Akwa Ibom State, for release of the funds. The project was executed then by the minister of Works at that time, Mr. Victor Igwe Masi from Omoku in Ahoada Local Government of Rivers State. When the project was delayed, Dr. Wayas had to personally invite Professor Esang to his office over the issue. While the present members of the present National Assembly are now living like kings in palaces, in comparison their predecessors never enjoyed such opulence.
Eric Teniola, a former director in the Presidency, writes from Lagos.