Despite the achievements of the Senate, there is still room for improvement in the areas of oversight, which is central to making sure that public funds are used to make the lives of the people better… It also shows what Nigerians stand to benefit when the legislature and the executive work together.
One of the endless discussions in Nigerian cyberspace and across both the legacy and social media is whether maintaining upper and lower chambers of the legislature in the country is worthwhile. As a democracy, doing away with the legislature in Nigeria is certainly out of the question. While many may tend to assume that Nigeria can do without its lawmakers, this line of argument is usually born out of frustration with the system and the many failures of governance. Some of these contentions may have elements of validity but the bottomline is that, despite everything, the legislature adds value to governance and makes a difference, in cases where little or no attention is paid. Some lawmakers may not be living up to the expectations of their constituencies but this doesn’t mean that the baby should be thrown away with the bath water.
From 1999 to 2005, Nigeria’s National Assembly was a location of scandals and endless fights over who leads. At a point, it was as if that branch of government was only capable of a different drama with each passing day. There was the periods of endless crisis pertaining to the frequent raucous disagreements between the legislature and the executive arm of government. It was Nigerians who paid the price of such crisis. In some cases, budgets were unnecessarily delayed, and the nominations of public officials that required confirmation marred by politics and the battle of influence between the executive and the legislature. Since the inauguration of the ninth Senate, it has taken a new path of a harmonious relationship with the presidency. As such, what values can a relationship of mutual respect and collaboration between the legislature and the executive bring to the nation? What kind of impact does a lawmaker make towards improving the lives of the people he/she represents? What are the potential areas of improvement that can make governance work for the good of the people?
Since his election as the president of the ninth Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Senator Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North) has been leading the affairs of the upper chamber of the National Assembly through an approach that facilitates mutual respect between the legislature and the executive. He is leading by firmly protecting the independence of the law making body and putting Nigeria and Nigerians first – in everything. His leadership, so far, shows the evolution of the Nigerian legislature – carrying out its constitutional duties without acrimony or unnecessary drama. This is a remarkable achievement because it has brought the stability and the harmony that are key to making governance work for Nigerians. On Monday December 21 the Senate passed the 2021 budget, which was a first experience of such to happen on time. With this, on its part, the Senate has delivered its constitutional responsibility of appropriation for the good of the people of Nigeria. The buck now stops on the table of the executive.
The ninth senate under the leadership of Senator Ahmad Lawan had also carried out many important nominees’ screenings, parliamentary investigations and also many oversight functions diligently and without scandal. Anyone conversant with the past of the National Assembly can easily understand why it is important to mention this as achievement. In the wake of the #EndSARS protests and the looting that followed it, the Senate was clear in its call that Nigerians cannot afford anarchy and they should abide by the rule of law in voicing their grievances, while violence in whatever form must be avoided. The unprecedented looting that followed the protests raised concerns on youth unemployment in Nigeria. Senator Ahmad Lawan led the voices that emphasised that, to avoid chaos in the future, jobs must be created for youths, whilst windows and doors of opportunities must be opened for youths.
As a young person, I will keep going back to issues that have to do with youths. In September, Senator Ahmad Lawan sponsored the training of youths in the area of GSM technology. This was conducted in the three senatorial zones of Yobe State. At least 1000 youths benefitted from the training on hardware, software and entrepreneurship development. In this age of the increasing relevance of information technology in all aspects of life, the skills that youths from all parts of Yobe State acquired from the training will set them on the path of aspiring to be key players in the technology industry. Giving youths what can be described as ‘skills of the moment’ is a way of preparing them for the future.
In the area of lawmaking, Lawan has been instrumental to the Recovery of Public Property Bill, Amendment of Assets Management Corporation Act, Nigeria Road Safety Commission Bill, Federal Universities of Agriculture Act (Amendment) and motions that have direct impact on the lives of Nigerians.
It was in the news, at the beginning of the year, that Senator Ahmad Lawan sponsored mass weddings across Bade, Jakusko, Karasuwa, Machina, Nguru and Yusufari local government areas that constitute the senatorial zone he is representing. Already, hundreds of youths have benefitted from these mass weddings and more will follow. This came with a difference: Before the wedding couples were provided with household needs and dowry. This was followed with empowering them with means of livelihood. While the women were trained and provided with knitting tools, soap making, sewing and grinding machines, alongside hair saloon tools and other forms of empowerment, the men were provided with empowerment to start businesses in the areas of welding, tiling, electrical work, barbing, tailoring, bricklaying and plumbing. So far 600 couples have collected their empowerment packs. This can best be described as a mass wedding with a difference. It is the type of mass wedding that goes beyond helping indigent parents to carry out their family and parental obligations. It did not only stop at helping youths to start a family, it also provided the benefiting youths with the empowerment that will ensure that both husband and wife have a means of earning a livelihood that is key to building a future.
In the area of education, Senator Ahmad Lawan facilitated the ongoing work for the establishment of the ICT Park in Nguru town, and in terms of roads, he has already enabled the reconstruction of the Nguru-Gashua road and Gashua-Baymari road. Through his efforts, the Federal Executive Council recently approved the construction of Gasamu—Amshi—Gogaram road at the cost of N14.5 billion. For years Senator Ahmad Lawan has been sponsoring free animal vaccination, which protects against Contagius Bovine Pleuro Pneumonia (CBPP), which is an infectious disease that attacks the lungs and thoracic cavity of livestock, causing fever and rapid respiration, cough and nasal discharges in domestic animals. The lawmaker is also undertaking urban and rural roads, water provision and solar streetlights protects across the six local governments that constitute Yobe north senatorial district.
Enumerating the achievements of Senator Ahmad Lawan is a way of showcasing the possibilities and the benefits for the people when the legislature and the executive work together with the harmony built around protecting the interest of all Nigerians. Despite the achievements of the Senate, there is still room for improvement in the areas of oversight, which is central to making sure that public funds are used to make the lives of the people better. One can say, the strides of Senator Ahmad Lawan in 2020, at home and on the national level, fulfils the three core functions of a legislator – representation, lawmaking and oversight. It also shows what Nigerians stand to benefit when the legislature and the executive work together. But this does not in anyway mean all is perfect. As time goes, the legislature will continue to evolve.
Hassan A. Nguru wrote from Bakin Kasuwa, Nguru, Yobe State.