The Dawn of a New Order


It is exactly 275 days today since the 10th Senate came into force. And it has been a period of active law-making, constituency engagement and strategic interventions amid socio-economic and political pressures in which our nation is enmeshed. Yet, we all recognise the place of collaboration in our response to issues of vital national interests.

As an assembly of nationalists, patriots and progressives under the leadership of His Excellency, Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON, the 10th Senate has been strategically collaborating with key public institutions, especially the Presidency, to defend our national interest; ensure economic stability; promote social cohesion and foster unity among ethnic nationalities that constitute Nigeria.

This has become highly imperative at the time the regressive forces are working against our collective interests as a federation of over 227 million people. Their invisible hands are not just ominous, but also devastative to our collective interests as a nation. They all constitute the triggers of prevailing internal crises – economic doldrums, insecurity, food crisis, fiscal instability and socio-political disharmony – that are now undermining the livelihoods of our compatriots nationwide. They equally threaten the vision of our founding fathers to build a virile federation that would serve the interests of all.

As complicated as these challenges are, the Senate remains resolute and undaunted, indeed methodical and pragmatic in our multi-pronged approach to restoring order to the economy, stability to the polity, prosperity to the people and confidence to the global interests that seek strategic partnership with us. This has been our preoccupation since the take-off of the 10th National Assembly on June 13, 2023.  

This is evident in our diverse engagements with service chiefs to further guarantee security of lives and assets nationwide. Our inquiries into the regressive dynamics that plague our economy no doubt spurred stability in the fiscal space and largely restored investors’ confidence. Our prompt responses to diverse requests of national significance further deepened our pragmatic approach to the enactment of different legislations that redefine our governance frameworks.
Between June 13, 2023 and December 31, 2023 alone, for instance, at least 338 bills were initiated in response to our quest for economic progress, internal cohesion and national greatness. Of this figure, 10 bills were fully passed into laws; 11 currently at the stage of committee; 179 awaiting second reading and 135 are yet to be laid before the committee of the whole for consideration and deliberation.

Critics have even called us to questions for enacting only 10 laws within the timeframe. Agreed, we could do much better especially at a time when critical legislative interventions are required to jumpstart our economy and stabilise our polity. Nevertheless, we should bear in mind that 2023 was the first year of the Government of Renewed Hope. And the Senate, indeed the National Assembly, was preoccupied with diverse requests of vital national interests from the Presidency and other public institutions.

Besides the bills we have worked on or are still working on, the Senate entertained 90 motions. Each of these motions directly addressed the roots of highly critical issues that threatened the future of our fatherland. As well, we treated 21 petitions from different quarters; screened 123 nominees for different strategic national offices and provided diverse interventions at the time our economy was in doldrums; national security under threats and internal cohesion almost disintegrating.  

With sustained collaboration with key public institutions, our interventions are already yielding optimal outcomes. We are winning the fight against bandits, kidnappers and terrorists, though mountainous and tedious. We are equally reversing negative tendencies that plague our economy and polity. We are gradually reuniting our brothers and sisters across the Niger and reinventing a glorious future that we all aspire and desire. And this aspiration will surely come to fruition definitely in our lifetime.

But can these interventions alone guarantee a future we all crave for? We obviously do not need a soothsayer to tell us the limit of our initiatives and the exigency of providing pragmatic antidotes to our collective challenges. What we have been doing since the inception of the Senate was tailored at rebuilding trust in governments; reinventing a polity that fosters peaceful co-existence nationwide and stabilising our economy that enables collective prosperity.
We are now forging ahead to another phase in our quest for a federation that serves the interests of all. That justifies a 45-man Constitution Review Committee that the Senate inaugurated on February 14, 2024 to review the grundnorm that governs our federation and work out a more efficient structure that can exponentially speed up our economic growth and redress all divisive tendencies that undermine our federation.

The review committee is chaired by His Excellency, Deputy President of the Senate, Senator J Barau Jibrin, CON. Among others, its core goals are to tinker with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and redesign our security architecture with a view to making it more efficient, more functional and more result-oriented in response to our security needs. They are consistent with the 2023 Revised Legislative Agenda of the Senate, which will soon be adopted in the interest of our fatherland.

Critics have however opposed our interventions on diverse grounds. Some believe the review committee is a ritual in every National Assembly. Many also question the capacity of the National Assembly to produce a new constitution that bears no vestige of militarism. Others even claim that it is a sheer waste of hard-earned public funds for the National Assembly to undertake another review of our grundnorm.

We note the concerns of our critics, mainly the opposition, with a sense of duty. And this duty is founded on a conviction that the task of nation-building is not just collective, but should also be constructive in the way we engage. This conviction remains the key driver of the review of the 1999 Constitution and not the assumption of the critics. It is not another ritual nor a waste of public funds. Rather, it was born out of the need of crafting a new socio-economic and political order that promotes efficiency and spurs accountability.

This conviction is consistent with the power of the National Assembly under Section 4(1-2) of the Constitution. Under this section, the National Assembly is not just the parliament of the federal government authorised to enact laws for the purpose of federal governance. It is also the sovereign parliament of the Federal Republic of Nigeria vested with the power “to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof…”
By implication, the resolve of the National Assembly to review the 1999 Constitution contravenes public assumptions. However, it is driven by the armed attacks on villages on the Plateau; the violent killing of traditional rulers in Ekiti and Kwara; the unlawful occupation of farm settlements in the Benue Basin, the abduction of pupils in different parts of the federation, the shadow enterprise of kidnapping nationwide and the waning capacity of the Nigeria Police to guarantee a functional public order.

This drive is also spurred by our quest for a new framework for effective economic governance that will reflect the character and strength of our federation. And our intention revolves around recalibrating our federal governance structure and making all its federating units constitutionally responsible, economically viable, fiscally independent and globally competitive. This is our dream and not all those assumptions flying around in the public space.
As our records have shown, the federation we are currently running is not what our founding fathers envisioned and operated before the coming of khaki men. No, it is not a federation we all bargain and crave for; neither is it the Nigeria our founding fathers handed over to the generations before us. It is not definitely the Nigeria of our dream.

In this generation, our dream is not what we witness daily. Rather, it is a nation where peace perpetually reigns, a nation where our economy grows unfettered, a nation where social cohesion is an order and a nation where politics is a tool for socio-economic transformation. And as an institution, we shall not allow criminals to derail our lofty dream.

The time is now to stamp out banditry, criminality and terrorism from our space. The time is now to spur investors and accelerate growth that will catapult into a glorious future we all desire. The time is now to raise an army of patriots and , who treasure our peace; who leverage our diversity for national growth and who handsomely prize our collective interests far above their parochial and pecuniary rewards.

All of these occupy a prime place in our quest for review of the 1999 Constitution. And we shall be open to different ideas on how to restore order and promote human dignity. We shall also debate the possibility of reinventing our federal governance structure for the purpose of introducing a functional order that guarantees accountability and probity, efficiency and optimality, progress and sustainability.

Finally, more than ever before, this is also the time to reassess ourselves as true representatives of the people and carry ourselves like true patriots and nationalists rather than playing to the gallery and engaging in divisive activities and heroism. Any act short of portraying any of us as a true senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be sanctioned by our collective resolve, and that starts from today.

•Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, CON is Leader of the 10th Senate and writes from Abuja

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