One thing is becominga trend in the Nigerian political space. Governors after serving out their term, now see the Senate as their next destination.
In the Eight Senate (2015-2019), 15 former governors were elected senators.
The governors will maintain their grip in the Ninth Senate, as about 15 of them scaled through in the 2019 National Assembly election, and will join others to begin legislative activities, after President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurates the National Assembly in June.
They include: two ex-governors of Abia Orji Kalu and his successor, Theodore Orji, incumbent governor of Borno, Kashim Shettima, ex-governor of Ebonyi, Sam Egwu, ex-governor of Gombe State, Danjuma Goje, among others.
Opinion, is, however divided on whether the former governors will make a difference in the senate. Some commentators opined that the governors’ mission in the senate is to feather their political nest.
Others, however, said that the former governors would add value and quality to legislative debates because of their wealth of experience.
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ebonyi, Chief Egwu Chima, described the election of the former governors into the senate as a welcome development.
Chima, former Commissioner for Information and State Orientation in Ebonyi, said ex-governors would bring their wealth of experience to bear in the legislative activities in the senate.
Chima said that former governors who served creditably in their respective states deserved a chance to go and show-case their leadership prowess at the senate.
According to him, former governors have acquired enough experience that could be harnessed to advance the nation’s democracy through viable and qualitative representation.
He said: “The best way for any governor that has served for eight years is to go and take a seat in the senate.
” The work load and expectations of the people on you as a governor are completely absent, the person will have full time to carry out his legislative functions.
“If after serving as a governor and you retire to your house, you may decay fast, lose political relevance and may even die early.
“As a lawmaker, the ex-governors will be able to direct their focus to the nation with the experience that they have gathered over the years on how to build strong, united and virile democracy.
“I can tell you categorically that it is pertinent that former governors should go to senate after serving their states where their wealth of political, leadership and administrative experience will be utilised.”
He advised ex-governors who are senators-elect from the different political parties to carry their experiences from their various sections of the country into the larger Nigeria.
Prof. Jonah Onuoha of the Department of Political Science, University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), who spoke on the issue, also see election of more former governors to senate as a welcome development and something that would boast legislative performance.
Onuoha who is also the Director, Institute of American Studies in the university, noted that the presence of more ex-governors who had acquired experience in governance would be an added advantage to the Ninth Senate.
“These governors have acquired experience and know the needs of the people.
“With their wealth of experience they are in a better position to sponsor bills that will address the needs of the people in their states since they have first hand information about them.
“Also with their connections as former governors they will use it to attract quality democracy dividends to their districts.
” To me, I see the election of more former governors into the Red Chamber as a welcome development, as well as a boost to the 9th Senate,” he said.
The director said he did not subscribe to opinion in some quarters that the senate had become a retirement home for former governors as well as a shelter to avoid harassment from the EFCC.
Prof. Aloysius Okolie, also of the Department of Political Science, University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), however, held a contrary opinion.
He said that majority of these former governors were going to senate just to remain politically relevant and not to give quality representation to their people.
“These former governors are going to Senate just to remain politically relevant because some of them did not perform very well in their states, and that will not change in the Senate.
“Some of these governors in the 8th Senate did not sponsor any bill or done anything extra-ordinary,” he said.
The former Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), UNN chapter, alleged that some of these former governors were rushing to the senate to avoid harassment from EFCC.
“Some of these governors are going to senate as retirement home as well as a shelter against the harassment of EFCC.
“Some of these governors were in government for eight years and could have allowed others to represent the district.
“They have piloted affairs of their states, any development they did not bring to their people as governors, I doubt if they can do that as senators,” he said.
In the same vein, Dr Paul Okorie, former Commissioner for Works, Housing and Transportation in Ebonyi, said that the former governors were driven by the desire to maintain their grip on the political space in their various states.
Okorie said that some of the former governors that served in the previous senate did not show enough political firework and quality representation, stressing that they were in the senate to feather their political nest.
He decried the development and urged ex-governors who were elected as senators to place the interest of the country and their constituencies above personal considerations.
“They should put the interest of the nation first, think more of their constituents and to remember first and foremost that their constituents are the people that elected them into the senate.
“They should bring their experience as former governors to bear in the legislative process and thereby advance our democracy,” Okorie said.
Chief Abia Onyike, a former Commissioner for Information in Ebonyi, said the new culture of going to the senate is a manifestation of former governors’ reluctance to leave office.
According to Abia, former Deputy National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), governors wield enormous powers under the 1999 Constitution, while former President Olusegun Obasanjo once referred to them as ’emperors.’
“The new culture of going to the senate is a manifestation of their reluctance to leave office.
“It has nothing to do with qualitative contribution to law making. In advanced democracies, you decide the direction you want to follow, either law making or governance.
“That was why we saw people like Edward Kennedy, who spent over 32 years in the senate and was known as the ‘Lion of the Senate.’
“The new generation of governors in Nigeria engage in endless search for relevance after leaving office.
” They are never satisfied with the opportunities they had. The reason is that the areas they governed were glorified provinces, after the balkanisation of the old regions into miniature states and the challenges of governance have become more intractable.
“Many of them cannot satisfy the aspirations of the people, coupled with the powerful enemies they make while in office, they are constantly in need of a sanctuary, which some of them find in the senate,” he noted.
Ukoh is of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
RVHA Chides Council Authorities Over nimet Flood Predictions
The Rivers State House of Assembly Committee on Environment has berated local government authorities over their poor response to the prediction of the Nigeria Metrological Agency (NIMET) on flooding.
The committee lamented that the precautionary measure put in place by some council authorities in anticipation of flood emergencies are poor.
Chairman of the Committee and lawmaker representing Gokana Constituency in the State House of Assembly, Hon. Dumle Mao stated this during the committees’ interface with council chairmen in Port Harcourt.
“I said that after hearing from the local government chairmen who are coming on Monday, we are going to have another meeting and that meeting will involve the relevant ministries and the local government chairmen.
“All of us are going to brainstorm on what to do to ensure that the issue of flooding is promptly addressed. Most of the local government chairmen are talking about funding. Sincerely some of them lack funding, especially people from the Orashi region.
“They (Orashi region) have experienced serious flooding and they need very important and serious support. So we are going to look at all that and make our recommendations to the House on what it should be,” the lawmaker said.
Speaking shortly after the meeting, Chairman of Gokana LGA, Paul Kobani said he has set up a committee to identify flood prone areas in his local government as well as measure to cater for the would-be victims.
“We asked the committee to identify the flood prone areas and the high ground places where we can settle the IDP’s. Sooner or later we will go to the relief materials.”
On his part, Chairman of Obio/Akpo LGA, Solomon Eke said he was working with the Ministry of Urban Development and Physical Planning to remove structures built on natural waterways in his local government.
Eke said, “We will do more to bring the attention of the Urban Development people so that those people who have built illegally, such building should so that the water channel can be open.
…Gives Firm 14-Day Ultimatum
Rivers State House of Assembly Adhoc Committee set up to look into the petition by Andoni Chiefs and people over dereliction and neglect by AMNI Petroleum , an indigenous
oil firm has given the firm two weeks to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) , or face sanctions.
The committee chaired by Hon. Mathew Dike of Tai State Constituency made the declaration last weekend after it played host to the Oka Ama of Ngo HRM Ikuruget 14, including chairman of Council.
Hon. Dike said AMNI need to liase with the community chiefs and people of its host communities.
Part of the new measure is to sign an MOU and carry out community projects.
“AMNI has not done well. “ Dike observed, “ it has this enter into an MOU with its host communities because they are shortchanging them.”
The lawmaker maintained that the MOU must have a local content such that the people need to have a sense of belonging in the activities of the firm which has operated in the area for over a decade.
Oka Ama of Ngo , HRM Nnabiget Ikuruget 14 said AMNI has displayed laxity and lack of responsibility to its host communities.
The royal father said once the time elapses he will handover all actions this the Assembly to address, as he has tried over the years to endear the company.
Chairman of Council, Hon Paul Lawrence assured that the people will continue to be law abiding but urged AMNI to do the right thing.
Council Chairmen Vow To Tackle Flooding
Rivers State Assembly House Committee on Environment continues to meet Local Government Chairmen in the state on preparations to tackle impending flooding as predicted by NIMET, some of the council chairmen say they have put plans in place to address the menace.
On Friday last week, Chairmen of Degema, Akuku -Toru, Ogu/Bolo, Obio/Akpor, Ikwerre, Andoni and Gokana met with members of the committee led by Hon. Dumle Mail at the Assembly complex.
The chairmen which too turns to explain some of the plans being put in place to check the flooding say they are ready to tackle the situation.
Chairman of Akuku Toru , Hon. Roland George Senibo told the committee that immediately the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) made public the prediction early in the year, the council responded by setting up a committee.
He stated that local government area is majorly dominated by salt water communities but few others where there is fresh water maybe affected by flooding such as Soku and Elem Sangama are being addressed.
Sekibo disclosed that though the flooding is yet to sack any community, already the council has set up a committee which has identified a property in Abonnema where an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) will be sited.
For now, he submitted that an enlightenment campaign has been done to sensitize the people on the flooding and precautions they need to take.
“We are becoming a bit spiritual now while praying it does not happen, but if it comes we are ready to tackle it “Senibo assured.
On his part, Hon. Paul Kobani of Gokana Local Government Area said the council is not resting on its oars.
So far, he said communities which may be affected had been identified and that the local council will soon send relief materials to cushion any losses.
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