NASS: Hard truth as Tinubu faces Senate disciplinary panel

Senate-Remi-Tinubu3By Ikechukwu Okaforadi

The wife of former governor of Lagos state, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, all things being equal, will face the sanction of the Senate disciplinary committee for allegedly disparaging the Upper Chamber in a newspaper.

Tinubu reportedly told journalists in an interview in Lagos that the Senate was shielding and siding with President Goodluck Jonathan, especially when issues of national importance are being discussed.

She was equally reported to have accused the Senate of corruption, and lack of transparent management of its affairs and transactions.

Shortly after the Senate returned from Easter break, the Senate leader, Victor Ndoma Egba (PDP, Cross River) raised the matter through a motion he brought before the Senate the during plenary of 25th of June.

To this end, she criticized the performance and leadership style in the Senate, saying the sympathy which the leadership of the chamber has for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and President Goodluck Jonathan has impeded the independence and performance of the upper chamber.

Drawing the attention of the Senate to Tinubu’s comments, Ndoma-Egba who referred his colleagues to some newspapers publications, said Tinubu in the report condemned the alleged rot in the senate.

According to him, “I would have brought this matter on the first day of our resumption but for respect for the memory of our departed colleague, Senator Dahiru Awaisu Kuta. Today, therefore, is my earliest opportunity to raise it and that is why I raised this matter of privilege.

“There is a story carried in Thisday of June 5, 2014, attributed to a distinguished colleague of ours, Senator Oluremi Tinubu and the headline is this: ‘Activities in the Senate are depressing’ and I will read with your kind permission.

“Part of the story reads, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, representing Lagos Central Senatorial District took a swipe at the leadership of the Senate, accusing it of poor performance.

“Tinubu, at a media parley, to mark her third anniversary in the Senate, said’ activities in the upper legislative chamber were depressing because its leadership had failed to address a lot of pressing national issues for partisan reasons.

“She accused the Senate leadership of pandering to the wishes of the executive arm of government which is led by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).’ I will just stop here.

“There’s another story in the Daily Trust of Monday, June 9, 2014, again attributed to Senator Oluremi Tinubu, which is titled, “Why I may not return to the Senate in 2015” and with your kind permission, I may just read a little of it.

“Wife of the former Lagos State governor, Oluremi Tinubu said she may not return to the Senate next year if the rot in the upper chamber persists…Mrs. Tinubu said she’s depressed with the various activities that go on in the Senate…”

“Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues, as I said before, I’m a Senator first and foremost and by the grace of my colleagues, a member of the leadership of the Senate and to the best of my knowledge, Senator Tinubu has never raised any concern with me or with the leadership on the activities of the Senate.

“I think it is most unkind, it is most uncharitable for a distinguished Senator who has the opportunity of raising concerns with her colleagues, not doing so and going straight to the media to play to the gallery.

“So, I object very, very seriously to the comments made by Senator Tinubu and I want to submit that my privilege, as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has been breached by the Senator.”

Ndoma-Egba then laid the newspapers before the Senate as evidence.

Responding, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session referred the matter to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions chaired by Senator Ayo Akinyelure, a Labour Party member representing Ondo Central.

Ekweremadu said, “This matter is referred to the committee so that they can have Senator Tinubu present her own side of the story and if possible, invite the newspapers which published the stories.”

He said the committee has two weeks to submit its report to the Senate for consideration.

Even though no one can say precisely what disciplinary action the Senate committee on ethics and privileges may recommend against Senator Tinubu, the fact remains that her expressions reflects the mindset of many Nigerians.

The notion among Nigerians is that the National Assembly as a whole is a cesspool of corruption, where lack of respect for integrity is the hallmark of excellence.

Even though the nation’s parliament has played key roles in stabilising the Nigeria’s growing democracy, it is apparent that the arm is far from meeting the expectations of the people as the hope of the common man.

Lawmakers elected on the platform of opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) have equally failed to show the kind of robust vigor expected of an ideal opposition parliamentarians.

Observers have submitted that National Assembly is certainly not a place for gentleman politics, rather it requires sometimes, violent engagement, at least to register a lasting disapproval.

Even though this may attract sanctions and heavy sacrifice from the opposition, this is certainly unavoidable in any politics that is anchored on ideology.

Experts have, before Senator Tinubu, questioned the quality and relevance of the laws made by the National Assembly. A lot of these laws are believed to have no significance on the lives of the people.

To observers, the parliament of any developing democracy, which aspires to success, should first take into cognizance the existing socioeconomic challenges facing its people and fashion their Bills to address those challenges.

However, in the case of Nigeria, cases have been witnessed where lawmakers sponsored Bills that have no bearing on the lives of the people. In most cases, such Bills may be relevant in centuries to come, therefore, the problems they set out to solve are what the development stage of the country is yet to attain.

These is what Senator Tinubu described as poor performance of the Senate precisely because it is most likely that decisions which will have direct positive impact on the people will pitch the parliament against the Presidency.

One other critical area where the Nigerian parliament has not been able to meet the expectations of Nigerians is their ability to relate with the executive dispassionately, irrespective of the party or person in power.

It is said that after politics and elections, the stakeholders settle for governance. In this case, the parliament does not have to see themselves as members of one party or the other, rather, they should work for the purposes of improving the lives of the people.

At this juncture, analysts argued that it is healthy for the parliament to disagree and challenge the executive arm, as way of getting the Presidency to be up and doing in delivery of its mandate to the people and to guard against recklessness in the exercise of executive powers.

On the contrary, what is often witnessed in the National Assembly today is a situation where party politics takes precedence over good governance.

Because of this trend, even if the President is committing sacrilege, members of his party would oppose every move to impeach him with vehemence. Thus, sacrificing the rule of law on the alter of politics.

The National Assembly should therefore endeavour to extricate itself from the bond with the executive which develops through partisan considerations. Through this, it can dispassionately deal with issues in a way to give greater benefits to the mass of poor Nigerians.



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