Ahmad Lawan, Amosun, Omo-Agege top YNaija Legislators’ Ranking for April

There hasn’t been much of legislative activities in the month under review, as federal lawmakers were on 24th March forced to suspend its plenary sessions, as part of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The resumption date was further postponed from 7th April to April 28, following a surge of cases as announced by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Before proceeding on the break, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan had announced to the Upper Chamber that while the plenary remains adjourned, lawmakers will be available to attend to important national issues, not much news came from the National Assembly all through April.

Poor performers:

Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Poverty Alleviation

Following criticism by the leadership of the National Assembly on the approach adopted by the federal government in distributing social grants to Nigerians who suffer the impact of the coronavirus lockdown, the Presidential aide on Social Investments, Maryam Uwais, while appearing before the lawmakers insisted that her office had resisted repeated attempts by members of both chambers to insert names of would-be beneficiaries.

As described by the Special Adviser, it is “regrettable and dangerous” that some lawmakers would make attempts to introduce influence and partisanship into the scheme under the guise of bringing beneficiaries that “are known personally to them” and seeking reforms through a process that is “more inclusive of the NASS.” This speaks of corrupt tendencies by people who are supposed to exercise oversight over the executive and it is unacceptable.

Mrs. Uwais in defence of the approach employed by the NSIP office, had noted that Nigeria has signed a financing agreement with the World Bank, in which the process of identification of beneficiaries was set out and that any departure from the process, would place at risk the accessibility to the IDA Credit and the recovered funds from the Abacha family. It is expected that these committees would consider this and enusre that the programme is better improved to reach more Nigerians, rather than jeopardise their efforts.


Commendation:

7. Nnolim Nnaji  (Nkanu East/Nkanu West Federal Constituency, Enugu)

Following the impact of the coronavirus on critical sectors of the economy, many airlines and private organisations in the aviation sector had (early April) informed its staff that it would not pay them salaries for the period of the two weeks lockdown directive by the Federal Government.

As seen in a viral memo, Max Air stressed that it was going into a state of no-pay during the period of the lockdown. Apparently worried by the development, Honourable Nnaji who chairs the House Committee on Aviation, appealed to the management of the airline through a motion on the floor of the lower chamber to reconsider “the hard-line posture” by retracing its action in this regard,

Expressing optimism that some form of relief could come to assist the airlines, he urged other organisations in the sector to see the period as a time of sacrifice and show extreme compassion to their staff, while enjoining the Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika to step in and hold talks with the various stakeholders in the industry to avoid the ripple effects of Max Air action.


6. Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (Lagos West Senatorial District)

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance donated N50m cash as palliative to his constituents in order for them to attend to some basic needs as a result of the lockdown order announced by the Federal Government.

According to the Senator, the cash donation was distributed across the 10 Local Government Areas and 18 Local Council Development Areas of the District, while a six-member committee across each Local Government Area and Local Council Development Area was set up to identify and implement the cash disbursement targeted in the first instance at 15000 vulnerable individuals, families and groups with beneficiaries getting sums ranging from a minimum of N2,500 and a maximum of N250,000 for groups based on needs.


5. Aliyu Mukhtar Betara (Biu/Bayo/Shani/Kwaya Kusar Federal Constituency, Borno)

With the rising cases of coronavirus in the state, the state government had ordered a total lockdown on 22nd April, leaving a lot of the citizens in a near hapless situation.

The lawmaker in providing support for his constituents distributed 3,500 50kg bags of rice (put at N80 million)to cushion the effect of the lockdown, in what appears to be the first major palliative to be distributed in Borno.


4. Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta Central Senatorial District)

Listed among the first federal lawmakers to make provision for palliatives, the Deputy President of the Senate, donated N85 million cash as palliative to his constituents in the wake of the Coronavirus ravaging the country.

In an arrangement that saw about 200 low-income households from each of the 85 wards across the eight local government areas that make up the senatorial district receive the sum of N5,000 each, the cash disbursement by the lawmaker was aimed at cushioning the effects of the lockdown faced by the constituents of  Ethiope East, Ethiope West, Okpe, Sapele, Ughelli North, Ughelli South, Udu and Uvwie due to the Coronavirus.


3. Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun Central Senatorial District)

With Ogun being on lockdown since April 3, the former governor donated N25m to the state government’s Coalition Against COVID-19 and also distributed food items to the poor, aged and vulnerable as COVID-19 palliatives, using 3,210 polling unit areas across the three senatorial districts the state in order to ensure orderliness.

The Senator who has also indicated his desire to focus on the police, army, Directorate of State Services and 42 other organisations, noted that the identified groups would benefit from 6,000 bags of rice and other food items during the second phase distribution of relief materials in the state


2. Ahmad Lawan (Yobe East Senatorial District)

It is common knowledge that the 9th National Assembly has always been criticised for not properly cautioning the executive when things go wrong.

Perhaps bothered about this, Dr. Lawan along with the House of Representatives Speaker at an April 7 meeting with the Humanitarian Affairs Minister, faulted the conditions and guidelines for the intervention programmes aimed at reducing the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable Nigerians, with a charge that the Social Intervention Programme (SIP) needed reforms and an enabling legislation to make it more efficient and effective for the poorest of the poor who had not been sufficiently captured by the programme.

While it is also commendable that Lawan as President of the Senate mobilised his colleagues to resume from recess and give accelerated approval to the $2.36 billion (N850 billion) loan request by President Muhammadu Buhari, who had explained that the latest is needed to replace previously approved external loans since the conditions from international capital markets are not conducive for borrowing, it however, calls for serious concerns that our debt profile is reaching unimaginable heights.

The Senate had approved $22.7 billion external borrowings for several priority projects around the country just before the global lockdown, and the President is seeking about $6.9 billion from multilateral institutions like the IMF, World Bank Group and the African Development Bank. At a time where the Federal Government has revised down its budgeted crude oil price from $57 per barrel down to $30 per barrel of crude owing to the issues of poor demand for the commodity, it is of utmost importance that the Senate doesn’t slack in its constitutional duties of oversight over the executive.


  1. Femi Gbajabiamila (Surulere Federal Constituency, Lagos)

This month, Speaker Gbajabiamila put forward his foot on two critical occasions towards ensuring that the right thing is done. First, in the issue of hazard allowance for frontline health workers and then, the issue of maltreatment of Nigerians in China in the wake of the pandemic.

At a briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 with the leadership of the National Assembly on April 10, Health Minister, Osagie Ehanire had shown insensitivity to the plight of health workers who bear great risk at the forefront of combating COVID-19 when he said he was not aware if they are being paid hazard allowance and couldn’t speak much of their payment structure because they are civil servants. The Speaker’s decision not to pat the minister on the back by stating clearly that he had dropped the ball regarding matters concerning his sector and area of expertise impressed a lot of Nigerians.

In a previous meeting between the leadership of the National Assembly and the Executive on Wednesday in Abuja, Gbajabiamila in emphasising the need for an all-inclusive relief package for Nigerians arising from the effects of the COVID-19 crisis, advocated for the Federal Government to give a 100 per cent waiver on the electricity consumed by every household in the country, describing as the most effective means of alleviating the financial burden of the stay-at-home order.

Importantly also, in confronting the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian with a viral video where a Nigerian official was seen challenging Chinese officials over the unhealthy treatment meted out to Nigerians in the Chinese city of Guangzhou, the Speaker showed leadership when it mattered most and this would go a long way in showing that Nigeria cares for its citizens after all, regardless of where they are resided. He insisted that Pingjian related with his home country in a bid to resolving the issue and it was sorted out between both countries barely a week after.


Editor’s Note: The YNaija Legislators’ Effectiveness Ranking is a perception index by our special editorial programme as determined by correspondent assessment, news reports, and opinion surveys. It is graded on the following parameters: quality of representation, social impact, and national development.

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