The Chief Whip of the outgoing 8th Senate, Sen Sola Adeyeye, has revealed that the act of extorting government agencies by senators became common in the last four years.
Adeyeye, who was speaking during the valedictory session of the 8th Senate yesterday, said the 8th Senate was also bedeviled by other anomalies that should not be repeated in the 9th and subsequent Senates.
“If I leave without saying some of the things we’ve done wrong, I won’t be doing good to the Senate. For example, our rules say we should sit at 10.am, but today we sat at minutes past 11.am. That’s not the fault of the Senate President or some of us. But if we start at 10.am, we won’t be forming quorum. I hope the 9th Senate will be punctual.
“Oversight shouldn’t be used for extortion, but unfortunately that has been the case. Since the inception of this democracy in 1999, the Senate has been battling with extortion of MDAs by senators, and didn’t change during the 8th Senate.
“The Nigerian Senate is the first where a first term lawmaker emerged as Minority Leader. It doesn’t happen anywhere in the world. We must make sure that it doesn’t happen again. I pray that in subsequent Senate, we don’t have a first termer becoming minority leader.
“Again, I don’t believe we did justice to the confirmation process. About 37 nominees came to this Senate, and two didn’t do well. I feel we should have rejected them. I believe if we did that, the president too would have respected us.
“I came to you Mr President but you were cautious not to be termed as somebody trying to be hard because of the circumstances that saw your emergence. On constitution amendment, it is the responsibility of the legislature to do that. But we must avoid a situation where debates are done as if we’re doing North vs South.”
Other senators, including Senate President Bukola Saraki, who spoke at the session, which lasted for six hours, bemoaned the “ugly incident” of mace theft in April last year.
Saraki said despite the challenges faced by the 8th Senate, it has achieved a lot both in terms of bills passage and engagements with Nigerians, among others.
Saraki said: “In these four years, we were fully engaged on the state of insecurity in the country, and spearheaded many initiatives to bring sustainable peace, and secure and protect the lives and properties of citizens.
“The 8th Senate organised a National Security Summit which made recommendations for bringing an end to the problems. Moreover, the Senate engaged with security chiefs for proper understanding of the issues; and urged them to make presentations to us on their requirements, so we could facilitate the needed special appropriations.
“We constantly engaged with the international community on the need for them to not only support the war against insurgency but to also lift the ban on sale of arms to Nigeria.
“The Senate had to cut short one vacation in order to receive a U.S. Congressional delegation and persuade them on the need to canvass for the lifting of the arms sales ban, for more effective counter-insurgency strategies.
“We assured them that human rights complaints had been addressed, and that we would ensure that any related issues would be thoroughly probed and appropriate actions taken. The U.S. delegation was able to leave with Senate’s guarantee, and the arms embargo was reversed.”
On his part, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu said the 8th Senate would go down in Nigeria’s history as one of the best, which stood its ground in defending democracy.
Speaking, Senate Leader Ahmad Lawan said he believed the 8th Senate did well but that going forward, the 9th Senate should pay adequate attention to oversight, saying “No matter how good a legislation is, you must look at how it is implemented.”