With the Ninth Assembly wrapping up legislative activities for session, the Senate experienced fewer controversial episodes in 2022 compared to previous years.

For most of the past year, senators’ attention has been divided, focused primarily on party activities such as primaries and national conventions. And for legislators seeking re-election, that was another reason to put a pause on legislative activities.

While some senators won their tickets to return to the Senate, many lost their bids. Several other senators moved to other parties to secure their ambitions as well.

Despite an almost quiet legislative year in which high turnover was feared in the tenth assembly, legislators were able to take key legislative resolutions and pass important bills, as well as make important interventions on various issues.

They also openly engaged and confronted designated federal ministries, departments, agencies and officials on various issues.

However, these activities were not without controversial scenes in which legislators were seen attacking each other or storming out of the chamber, among others.

In this report, PREMIUM TIMES takes a look at some important events in the Nigerian Senate in 2022.

1. Threat of impeachment

The threat to impeach President Muhammadu Buhari was perhaps the most unexpected event in the National Assembly in July 2022.

Some Senators from opposition parties left the plenary after Senate President Ahmad Lawan refused to allow the Senate to discuss insecurity. This was preceded by an executive session that lasted more than two hours, and the legislators had apparently resolved to discuss the issue of insecurity afterwards.

The incident occurred at a time when security threats throughout the country, especially in the Federal Capital, were high. It also happened about two weeks after bandits attacked the Kuje Correctional Center, taking out more than 400 inmates.

Senate President Ahmed Lawan inspecting Kuje Prison after the terrorist attack
Senate President Ahmed Lawan inspecting Kuje Prison after the terrorist attack

But when Lawan refused to allow lawmakers to discuss the issue, they angrily left the chamber singing “Buhari must go” songs.

Led by Senate Minority Leader Philip Aduda, revealed what was discussed behind closed doors and gave the president six weeks to address the concerns or risk removal.

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Some APC senators like Elisha Abbo and Adamu Bulkachuwa joined the protest.

What followed, however, was the annual recess for lawmakers that lasted about eight weeks and there was no mention of insecurity or threat of impeachment upon it resuming.

2. Buhari’s spending of N23.7 billion

The president’s request for the Senate to approve N23.7 trillion already spent by the federal government was the latest episode to divide lawmakers in 2022.

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The president, in a letter, said the money was lent by the Central Bank of Nigeria for 10 years and asked lawmakers to approve a repayment plan.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how senators disagreed during consideration of the president’s request last Wednesday. The chamber became rowdy as some lawmakers protested against the request, which they called unconstitutional.

Signature of President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari writing [PHOTO CREDIT: @BashirAhmaad]

The dispute that lasted for several minutes saw the senators arguing. While some lawmakers demanded details of the spending, others questioned why the amount was taken without notification and approval from the National Assembly.

The disagreement forced the Deputies will suspend consideration of the president’s request until January 17 to allow for proper scrutiny.

However, when the president signed the 2023 budget, he asked the senators to reconsider their decision and that not passing the amount could cost the government more than N1 trillion.

Lawmakers are expected to reconsider the president’s request on January 17.

3. Constitutional reform

Lawmakers began steps to amend the 1999 Constitution in February of last year. It would be the fifth alteration to the laws.

After legislators from both chambers approved a report proposing 68 amendments to the Constitution, they voted for them electronically.

Some of the proposed amendments voted on include repeal of joint state and local government accounts, financial autonomy for state assemblies and the judiciary, legislative convocations, lifetime pension for National Assembly presidents, virtual court proceedings, voting diaspora and additional seats for women. in parliament

National Assembly
National Assembly

Others are independent candidacy, mayor of Abuja, power of parliament to summon the president and governor, immunity for presidents of the legislature, term to appoint ministers and commissioners, extend the scope of citizenship by registration, separate attorney’s office. General of the Minister of Justice and transfer VAT to an exclusive legislative list.

However, of the 66 proposed amendments, only 44 went through the cameras.

However, the revision of the Constitution suffered a setback after the Vice President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, announced that 25 states have refused to consider and vote on the amendments. The states, he said, have threatened to take no action on the bills unless the National Assembly considers and passes four more constitutional amendment bills.

The bills are: establishing the State Police, establishing the State Judicial Council, simplifying the procedure to remove the Presidents of the State Assemblies and institutionalizing the Legislative Bureaucracy in the Constitution.

4. Rejection of Gender Law projects

Of the 24 bills rejected during the voting process, five were gender bills. The bills were rejected despite the presence of the Vice President’s wife, Dolapo Osinbajo, who was on hand to appeal to lawmakers.

The senators voted against affirmative action for women in the administration of political parties and the bill to create special seats for women in national and state assemblies.

the bill of special seats for women in parliaments, Sponsored by Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (APC, Abia), it seeks to amend sections 48, 49, 71, 77, 91 and 117 of the 1999 constitution by creating one senatorial seat and two federal constituencies in each state and FCT for women. It also seeks to amend section 91 of the 1999 Constitution by creating an additional 108 seats in state assemblies for women.

GENDER LAWS: Women protesting in the National Assembly for the inclusion of women in politics among other things
GENDER LAWS: Women protesting in the National Assembly for the inclusion of women in politics among other things

Affirmative action bills seeking at least 35 percent women in political parties, a bill to grant citizenship to foreign-born husbands of a Nigerian woman, and the inclusion of at least one ten percent affirmative action in favor of women in ministerial appointments.

The rejection of the bills sparked large protests from many women’s groups across the country. But no amendment was made.

5. Desertions

Being a pre-election year and with many senators looking for return tickets, several of them defected to other parties.

The ruling APC lost most of the members who were also high-ranking members in the chamber. Top legislators such as former Senate leader Abdullahi Yahaya and Adamu Aliero have left for the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party. The duo, from Kebbi state, accused the state governor of thwarting the efforts of party members in the state.

Another key defector is Babba Kaita, who represents the Buhari senatorial district. He left the APC for PDP. Senators Francis Alimekhena (North Edo) and Yahaya Gumau (South Bauchi) also left the APC for the PDP and the New Nigeria Peoples Party, respectively.

Senate Plenary [PHOTO CREDIT: @NgrSenate]
Senate Plenary [PHOTO CREDIT: @NgrSenate]

Another senior senator and former minority leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, left the PDP for the Grand Alliance of All Progressives, citing a similar disagreement with his state governor.

Another event worth mentioning is the imminent high turnover rate after the February elections. In 2022, many senators denounced the high turnover rate, especially after many senators lost their tickets to return to the 10th assembly.

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