The leadership crisis rocking the senate took a new twist on Wednesday as prominent pro- Ahmed Lawan senators, otherwise called “Unity Group” in the Upper House finally bowed to the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki.
The senators topped the list of lawmakers scrambling for leadership of the yet-to-be reconstituted standing committees of the senate.
The committees are 57 in all. Some arrowheads of the anti-Saraki movement in the senate, who had allegedly been plotting to remove him, finally accepted to serve in the Committee on Rules and Business, which is the engine room of the senate.
A scheduled inauguration of the committee last week had to be shifted after its chairman, Senator Babajide Omoworare, and other pro-Lawan senators in the committee, boycotted the event.
Chairman of the pro-Lawan group, Senator Banarbas Gemade, also on Wednesday accepted to serve in the committee. The former works minister was also named chairman of the senate ad hoc committee on roads.
The appearance of both Gemade and Omoworare, who are die hard loyalist of former Lagos State governor, Ahmed Tinubu, in the committee fueled speculation that the warring lawmakers may have dumped Senator Lawan and Tinubu.
The last minute change of mind by the pro-Lawan senators to serve in the committee is now unsettling other members of the group who are said to be planning to jettison their opposition to Saraki.
A source close to the pro-Lawan group, noted that inclusion of the core Lawan loyalists in the committee was part of plot by Saraki to break the rank of the aggrieved senators.
Meanwhile, inaugurating the committee, Senate President Saraki, challenged the committee to evolve an e-parliament for the country, which would open a new chapter on legislative business in the nation.
The Committee is also made up of the Vice Chairman, who is also the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ali Ndume; Senator Barnabas Gemade, Senator Kabiru Marafa, Senator Joshua Lidani, Senator David Umaru, Senator Clifford Ordia, Senator Chukwuka Utazi and Senator Uche Ekwunife.
Saraki, while inaugurating the Committee in the National Assembly Complex, noted that members of the Committee were specially chosen to make a difference in managing the day-to-day business of lawmaking by the 8th Senate. “The challenge to us particularly is how do we take Eighth Senate to the issue of e-parliament. I think that is my charge to the members of this important Committee.
“You must start this new page in the history of the Senate, and I believe those who are members here have the capacity to do that and that is where we begin to say that the 8th Senate did make a difference and started to do something innovative and useful.
“I know that being led by the chairman, the majority leader and also distinguished senators, you must be the one that will change operational modalities of the Senate because that is one of the things that we want you to do as you prepare the Order Paper of the 8th Senate on a daily basis,” he said.
He added that the composition of the Committee also shows that the 8th Senate is operating a policy of inclusiveness, having put politics behind it to face the real work of legislating for the country. “I think what we are also doing here is showing the world what we have always said that this is an inclusive Senate.
This is the Senate that is here to serve the people and leave politics behind and I think that having someone like Senator Babajide Omoworare as the Chairman of the Committee also goes to confirm that we are beginning to work our talk about composition of committee and allocation of responsibilities based on competence, experience and qualification,” he added.
Earlier, Omoworare, while thanking the Senate President for the honour, pledged that the committee would be innovative and proactive in the execution of its mandate. “We will carry out our mandate diligently, passionately and resolutely.
We will ensure that there is fairness in the scheduling of the business of the Senate. “The Committee notes that, after 16 years of democracy in Nigeria, there should be a near uniformity and standard in the Standing Orders of the legislature in Nigeria.
We will strive to accomplish this. “The Committee is committed to the early realization of your vision to implement as a matter of urgency, the eparliament technology that will enable Senators access to Order Paper, Notice Paper, Legislative Calendar and other operational legislative information online and real time.
It will also enable us to properly monitor oversight, committee works and other legislative chores,” Omoworare said. He stated that in addition to facilitating Senate Legislative Business, the e-parliament would align the Senate with international best practice as well as enable members of the public to have advance information with respect to Senate activities.
“Thus enlarging the frontiers of legislative participation by the public, ensure robust contribution by senators, deepen our democracy and strengthen the Legislature as an arm of government,” he added.