With the outcome of the just-concluded National Assembly elections, Oriolowo Adelere, Francis Fadahunsi and Ajibola Basiru, all first timers are the senators-elect to represent Osun West, East and Central senatorial districts respectively in the National Assembly. Also, of the elected 9 House of Representative members-elect, seven are greenhorns. Will this affect their performances as being peddled? Asks SOLOMON ODENIYI in this report.
Legislative arm of government world over gives direction to governments with policies and legislations they come up with. It also acts as checks and balances to other arms of government. Besides, the primary functions are to make law and perform oversight functions which make legislative business a serious one that require versed hands.
In Nigeria, the presidential form of government allows for Bi-camera legislature – the House of Representatives and Senate. The senate , being the upper chamber of the National Assembly has 109 seats. It is made up of three senators from each of the 36 states. The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has one slot. Also, the House of Representatives has 360 members.
With the outcome of the February 23 elections, the coast is now clear. The senators and house of representative’s members representing their various constituencies across the states of the federation including Osun at the 9th National Assembly have been unraveled. Unlike other South west states with a mixture of both the newly elected and returning senators, those from Osun are neophytes. In Ogun, Ibikunle Amosun was a senator before serving as a governor. He is returning to the senate. Same could be said of Prof. Ajayi Borrofice, a third term senator who will be leading others from the sunshine state. Those in Lagos can look up to Sen. Oluremi Tinubu who is a third term senator, Adeola Solomon is returning for the second term and Hon Bayo Osinowo who is a first timer. In Oyo state, Sen. Abdul Fatai Buhari, Oyo North Senatorial District is returning; Sen. Teslim Kolawole Folarin, was a former house leader, he is a ranking senator, Oyo Central Senatorial District; with Dr. Kola Balogun, in Oyo South Senatorial District.
However, in Osun, Basiru Ajibola is representing the Osun central senatorial districts in the 9th senate. He was a two term commissioner as a Commissioner for Special Duties and as an Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of the state respectively under the immediate past Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola administration. He will be putting on the big shoe of Senator Sola Adeyeye who represented the district for 8 years and currently the Senate Chief Whip.
Adelere Oriolowo who won the election for Osun West slot was a retired civil servant who was later appointed as the state coordinator of the Osun state Rural Access Mobility Projects. He is taking the baton from Ademola Adeleke who was elected as provided by the constitution of the country to see through the remaining years left of his late elder brother, Isiaka Adeleke’s four years tenure after his demise in 2017.
On the other hand, the senator-elect in the Osun East senatorial district, Adenigba Fadahunsi is a retired custom officer, though, he gave this a doughty shot which eventually paid off after three unsuccessful attempts. He will be taking over from Babajide Omoworare who held sway for 8 years.
However, there have been fears raised in some quarters that the inexperience of the senators-elect will be to the detriment of their constituents they are representing and could also spell doom for the nation.
Professor Goke Lalude, Dean of Social Sciences, Fountain University Osogbo on a radio programme making a case for experience in the legislative arm stressed that it was needed to further strengthen the nation’s fledgling democracy.
Lalude said, “There can never be a doubt that experience is needed there. By experience, its about how long you have been there. One of the areas where developed democracy have become particularly attractive is the fact that many of the returning senators are the one guiding the ones coming in and when we start losing the ones with experience to those without experience, it will definitely have a very serious negative effect on our democracy. Be that as it may, I think to an appreciable extent that experience also has to be merged with integrity. If for any reason at all, you have lost your goodwill, basically you have not been there for the masses and I think sometimes we may just have to risk losing those with experience by ensuring that integrity is put in its proper place.
The senator-elect in the west senatorial district, Adelere Oriolowo disagreed that being a first timer could affect the quality of legislation.
He said, “That is an understood fear, but there should not be any fear about it. Each of the people going has his own innate potentials and capacity. We must understand that the senate started from a point, those who started it were not returning senators then. If you look at the senators-elect, you will see that there are invariably more first timers than those returning. This lay credence to the fact that we have to make do with the first timers, some of who have the prerequisite knowledge of legislative processes. Also, their technical expertise in their relevant fields would be found useful moving the nation forward.
Yomi Obaditan, a public Affair analyst allayed any fear in allowing greenhorns to represent the people at the senate, adding that the senate provides an avenue for members to learn how to effectively carry out the duties expected of them.
He said, “There is no cause for alarm, those you referred to as old were once new. Besides, there are trainings for them. There is going to be refresher courses for them before the legislative business begins. Some of them who have visions, when they come, they consult lawyers who teach them how to prepare bills.
“They will be given opportunity to employ people as assistant and in other areas which make the job easier for them. To me, what is important is to know why they are there and what they intend to do for their people. They will be given the house rules when they get there which they are meant to read. This is not a fear but sentiment. We can’t compare our democracy here with that of the advanced countries where one can be a senator until one dies.
“We know of the reasons why some that were supposed to be returned to the house were not allowed to. Some of them did not propose a bill and never brought home anything to their various constituencies. The constituency projects they agitated for and were given the money to do were not delivered to their people. What’s important is not how long in the Senate, it is your contributions and your vision, mission, the ability to lobby your colleagues. Ekweremadu is still being wanted by his people, that was why he has been re-elected. Senator Remi Tinubu has always returned to her constituency either holding meetings with stakeholders or she does an empowerment programme at one time or the other. That was why she was reelected and not based on her husband influence.
“The meaning of Senate is elders, if they are truly, we should be hearing or read about what they have done, that is how we know an active participant and not how long you have been sent there. In politics, you don’t just come to occupy space, you go there because you know what your people wants. And that’s how you can continue to be relevant.
He added that, “It is not true that the greenhorns will not be able to influence certain decisions on the level of the house. They are from a political party and if their party has the majority, whatever their party decides will first be discussed at caucus level. We also have committee level where they should be able to have a say, except they belong to the minority. Minority have a radical mind which is always contrary to that of the majority, and with that they will have challenges.
“Even then, those who know how to lobby, which is a vital political strategy used in the legislative chamber would influence things. It may include inviting them to dinners, seminar or workshop trying to make them understand what your bills entail. For example, if you are proposing a bill that seeks to provide health for Nigerians, the senator will hold a workshop to make others see why it should be adopted with those ones itsgoing to scale through.
On the area he thinks they would be disadvantaged, he said, “where they are a bit disadvantaged is the area of being a principal officer or head of a committee which senators like to have. This may elude the new comers. Meanwhile, there have been cases where the first timer senators are more than the returning senators. The new senators had to be given heads of committees to make up for the returning senators. There is no one of them born a senator. Everyone is in the world to learn something”.
He enjoined members of their constituencies not to be swayed by the sentiments raised by mischief makers as regards their newly elected senators.
He said: “The electorate across various constituencies would have seen a quality or two in the choice of leader before voting them in. I advise them not to be bitter about the so called greenhorn senators, they will deliver and if they don’t, four years is here. Those elected should also not exercise fear. They will be put through before sittings commence in the house. At the end of the day they will become experienced senators too”.
A political analyst, Ayodele Agboola said he was not perturbed because the three senators are accomplished people in their chosen fields.
According to him, the only worry is that they will not be heads of sensitive and juicy committees where there finesse would be easily brought to the limelight.
He advised them to see this as a challenge to them and proof not only to their fellow senators, but to Nigerians that while they may not be familiar with the terrain, they could also make their own marks.
“They have their individual names to protect and they owe their constituents and parties that brought them forth to distinguish themselves to excel. They should prove that as an underdog, they can make impact. For instance, Eng. Oriolowo did well as the Coordinator of ORAMP. Fadahunsi was a retired customs who served diligently, while Bashiru has distinguished himself in his chosen law profession. He played a pivotal role in the litigation involving the immediate past governor against Oyinlola. He was also a commissioner for special duties before becoming the Attorney General where he also did well. What is expected is for them to bring their experience in their various fields to bear in the legislative business so that they can be effective representatives of their people.
Advising the senators, he said, “They must be conversant with the constitution and the rules and regulations guiding the activities in the Senate. If they are armed with these two, they will be able to play a very vital role in the parliament. They also have lessons to learn from their colleagues who have been there before. They need to carry out research in the area they want to influence. For instance, if they are coming up with good bills that will affect the generality of the people, I am very sure they will get assistance from their colleagues and be able to influence them. Above all, what they determine to do matters. If they are determined to make impact they will.
Agboola is also of the belief that the outgoing senators from the districts which the new ones are from could play one or two roles to make them settle on time, adding that this is subject to the choice of the newly elected senators who may find it not necessary to meet with them.
However, the same fear would have been entertained on the House of Representatives members but for the likes of Wole Oke (PDP) from Oriade/Obokun federal constituency elected for the fourth term and Femi Fakeye (APC) from Ila/Boluwaduro/Ifedayo constituency who has been reelected for third term, the remaining seven are greenhorns in the National Assembly, a development some analysts have expressed their fear for. Nevertheless, there are some of the House of Representative members-elect who have one time or the other been members of House of Assembly. They include Honourable Lawrence Ayeni, Ijesa South who had been a legislator in the Lagos House of Assembly for more than once and Honourable Rasheed Afolabi, Ifelodun/Odo-Otin/Boripe Federal Constituency who had represented Ifelodun State Constituency in the Osun House of Assembly for two consecutive terms.