Senate Reverses Self, Resumes Plenary Tuesday

Ahmad Lawan

By Deji Elumoye

The Senate, which adjourned indefinitely last Tuesday after sitting for one day following the return of the lawmakers from a five-week COVID-19-induced recess, is to resume plenary like the House of Representatives on Tuesday (tomorrow).

President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, had last Tuesday adjourned Senate plenary indefinitely after the Red Chamber had sat for over five hours.

The Senate, however, reversed its decision at the weekend as it issued a circular directing all Senators to be present at Tuesday plenary scheduled for 10a.m.

Clerk of the Senate, Mr. Nelson Ayewoh, in a one-page undated circular entitled “Resumption of Plenary Session,” informed all Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that the Senate will resume in plenary on Tuesday, May 5, 2020.

The circular stated inter alia:

“Distinguished Senators are by this notice expected to sit in Plenary on Tuesday, May 5, 2020 at 10a.m. prompt.

“Staff and Senators’ aides are to work from home and they will be notified when needed in the office for any special assignment”.

The Clerk of the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, had last week revealed that the two chambers of the Assembly will only be sitting once a week – every Tuesday until the COVID-19 pandemic abates.

Sources told THISDAY that upon resumption of plenary on Tuesday, the Senate will work on the request of President Muhammadu Buhari for the confirmation of nominees to the board of Federal Civil Service Commission, Federal Character Commission (FCC) and Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).

The three letters from the President dated March 18, 2020 listing the names of the nominees are expected to be referred to the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service headed by former Governor of Kano State, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, and is to properly screen all the nominees within one week.

The nomination of Dr. Muheeba Dankaka as Chairman of the FCC by President Buhari has, however, generated controversy over the President’s perceived non-application of the principle of federal character in his key appointments.

Dankaka’s nomination is said to be in conflict with the provision of the constitution because since she is from Kwara State, she ought not to have been so nominated because the Secretary of the commission, Mr. Muhammad Tukur, is from Taraba State also from the North.

The critics’ argument is that this pattern of appointment negates the constitution, the enabling law and convention.

They refer to Section 4 of the enabling law, Federal Character Commission Act No 34 of 1996, to buttress their argument. It states: “Where the number of positions available cannot go round, the states of the federation or the Federal Capital, the distribution shall be on a zonal basis. But in the case where two positions are available, the positions shall be shared between the northern and southern zones.”