Vox Pop

A Senate without Order

There is a reason countries like the United States and United Kingdom maintain bicameral legislatures. While some might argue that the US is so large and will want equal and qualitative representations for its citizens, that argument may not hold water for the UK because members of the Upper Chamber (the House of Lords) are not elected. The UK still maintains the largely unelected body, partly because of its tradition of maturity or because it has a history of order and decorum as against what applies in the Lower Chamber (The House of Commons).


Those who have witnessed debates at the Commons will know how busy the House can be as compared to the Peers in the Lords. This is not to say that there is no decorum, but because most of the debates are done by the Commons (or “Commoners”) this may sometimes get messy. The Senate, which is the Upper Chamber in the US Congress, has been largely quiet in recent times, save for a brief “noisy” moment President Obama appointed a Federal Judge. Again, like their British colleagues, there is much emphasis on order in the Senate. One can now guess why apart from President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden being former US Senators, a major presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, also has had a stint in that legislative chamber.


Let us come back home. In Nigeria, the National Assembly a body that is ordinarily meant to fight corruption, has itself become engrossed in the vice. Its members refer to themselves as ”˜Honourables’ or “”˜Distinguished’ senators” depending on which chamber they belong, but nothing is really “distinguished” or “honourable” in their behavior if the display of some of them is anything to go by. A Senate which has members like Buruji Kashamu, a wanted US drug baron helps explain this point better!

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The Nigerian Senate is presently suffering from legitimacy crisis. The June 9, 2015 leadership election that produced the duo of Dr. Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu as Senate President and Deputy is still controversial till date. This is not because they “won” but because the very ground on which their election is based is faulty. The contentious Senate Standing Order 2015(?) is said to have been forged. Can we build something on nothing and expect it to stand? The forgery of the Senate rules is serious criminal issue if proven to be true. This country will start to get better if the so-called big men start going to jail for crimes they commit!

Some days ago, I saw a news piece, (I can’t remember on which media platform), “Forgery Trial of Senate Leaders: Buhari Threatened With Impeachment; Dino Melaye Threatens To Beat Up Senator Tinubu.” I told myself that Nigerians can be dramatic with the online media known to reel out (for want of better words) lies and half-truths just to get traffic, but the news has to be “fake”. I waited for Dino to deny making the unfortunate statement, but no he won’t. In reaction to the news, someone asked on Facebook: “Dino threatened to beat who?”


I immediately went online to seek confirmation, and alas, Dino did issue the threat. At the point, my empathy for the Senator (if he is not properly so-called) changed to sympathy. Senator Dino Melaye (APC - Kogi West) reportedly said in his remarks about the ongoing forgery trial of the senate rules involving Saraki and Ekweremadu that the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, must be brought before the Senate to be thoroughly grilled and humiliated for charging the Senate leadership with forgery in court. Melaye reportedly issued threats, including impeaching the President (which he will later deny).

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The climax of the meeting was when it was Senator Remi Tinubu’s turn to speak. How dare Remi, a woman and a wife for that matter speak where Dino is talking? He is probably used to his wife keeping quiet while he is speaking, so Remi’s audacity was too much for Dino to bear. She has to be given some ”˜home trainings’, so must Dino be thinking after he said and I quote “I will beat you up on this floor and nothing will happen”¦”


Melaye has a history of being a wife beater and women molester, so no one should be surprised that the Kogi-born Senator threatened to beat another man’s wife. There was a time Melaye physically assaulted his ex-wife Tokunbo even threatening to kill the poor woman. But Tokunbo, unfortunately for Dino does not have a surname that is Tinubu!


While one has no problem with anyone being ambitious, everything is wrong with being overambitious like Dino. One also understands that he is Saraki’s man Friday, who must dance to his masters’ music no matter how poor the melody is, there is need for order even in madness!

Dino should have grown (at 45?) after serving in the House of Representatives well enough to have learnt proper parliamentary conduct. Those encouraging his misdemeanor are only enjoying his public display, like everyone enjoys watching the madman dance in the market square. Not only does he have a history of harassing women, he has a glittering resume of defending corruption and corrupt people. He led the gang in his term as House of Representatives member in defence of Hon Patricia Etteh then House Speaker whose scandal includes refurbishing a house with N628million.

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The present forgery case against the Senate President and his Deputy is not an attack on the National Assembly as it is being misconceived in certain quarters. The Senate alone has 109 members out of which only two (elected by other senators) are on trial for forgery. The House of Representatives has 360 members out of which no one is on trial for any criminal matter presently. So, the case should be put in proper perspective. Saraki, Ekweremadu and the two bureaucrats at the National Assembly are standing trial for offences they allegedly committed on their own, not on behalf of the Senate as an institution!

With persons like Dino, a woman molester; integrity-challenged Saraki and Ekweremadu; wanted drug baron Kashamu and others in the Senate, I am so convinced that I see a house that is not in order!


Olalekan  ADIGUN is a political analyst based in Lagos, Nigeria. His write-ups can be viewed on his website http://olalekanadigun.com/
Follow me on Twitter @adgorwell

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