The Nigerian senate, a pivot in the tripod of democracy, has become comfortably ineffectual and grossly spineless.

Kenneth Obi

In politics, there is an old adage that says most people like their representative, but hate legislative arm as an institution. If that is true, then Nigerian public must really hate the 8th Senate as we continue to witness the incapacitation rocking the upper chamber since its inauguration on 6th June 2015.

The Nigerian senate, a pivot in the tripod of democracy, has become comfortably ineffectual and grossly spineless. What we have now is just an institutional skeleton, without blood or muscle. So, why should we still keep it?

That the senate is today a magnet of scorn, derision and insults is of its own making. The upper legislative chamber got hoisted by its own petard. As matter of fact, the senate is the most hated of all government institutions, and it is fast losing relevance.

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However, I will not vacillate in saying that the executive and its underlings have worked successfully in reducing the upper legislative chamber to a colourless-cardboard box.

I am not surprised that Ibrahim Idris, inspector-general of police, unabashedly insulted the senate. That arm of the legislature had it coming. Whenever the institution backtracks in the smoulder of executive pressure, the result will be repudiation and humiliation.

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I remember in 2016, during the senate- Customs Chief Hameed Ali face-off, the institution made all the right noises, but at the end of day it interred the matter after pressure from the executive; I may even add, “after breaking bread with the executive”. The reason for the senate’s angst was the decision of the customs management to seize licensed vehicles without/with forged papers on all roads. As you read these lines, nothing came out of the senate’s intervention, but citizens with “vehicle papers” are still being harassed by customs officers on roads across the country.

Also, the senate does itself in when it passes “resolutions” without an effective mechanism to have them implemented. There have been many resolutions, but the senate has lacked the canine to extract implementation from the executive.

Sometimes, when the senate takes the side of the people on a policy or government decision, it quickly re-aligns itself with the executive for political ends. It is this reason that Nigerians have stopped taking the institution seriously.

Nigerians have called for the scrapping of the senate a number of times, though some of the campaigns against the institution are sponsored, there are still genuine concerns.

The senate will have to take itself seriously for Nigerians to give it back its lost shine. At the moment, citizens ask, “What the hell is the senate?”

The People's Bishop Kenneth Obi
Chairman, CRJ, Imo State Chapter.
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