By Gbenga Omotosho

UNKNOWN to its army of critics, the Eighth Senate is methodically writing its way into the history books. In other words, by the time it winds down and becomes history, it would have made history – as the most memorable assemblage of our best.

The pace of legislative work is amazing. It is unprecedented. The Bill to prohibit tribal marks is almost ready. So also is the one on genital mutilation. There have been many resolutions and motions, including the one for Nigerian men to be allowed to marry two wives, moved by Senator Ali Ndume, the one who got into trouble by suggesting, perhaps against all known ethical standards of the Senate, that Senate President Bukola Saraki and Senator Dino Melaye should be investigated.

All this and more are targeted at eliminating all those ideas, thoughts and actions that have held Nigeria hostage.

But will the hunter’s enemies ever concede to him that he has killed a big game? Will they ever stop saying, “see the little animal he has killed and he celebrates himself as a great hunter?” The Senate, like the hunter, keeps attracting critics who will never appreciate its huge contributions to the survival of our democracy.

Consider the simple matter of the Customs chief Hameed Ali who has been honoured with a summons to appear before the Senate in the uniform of the Comptroller General (C.G.). He has refused to. He says the matter has become the subject of a legal dispute and any further move, thought, action and statement on it will be prejudicial to the proceedings. The Senate stands its ground, insisting that Col. Ali must comply with its resolution or get the push.

From a little committee room at the National Assembly where Col. Ali was turned back on account of improper dressing, the matter has become the subject of major discussions in restrooms, newsrooms, staffrooms and courtrooms. Everywhere.

Some say Ali should just have respected the institution of the Senate – not necessarily the senators – by wearing the uniform. By so doing, say advocates of this school of thought, he will be contributing his own quota to building institutions, an ideal which we all must pursue to nurture our democracy to maturity. Individuals will pass on but institutions will remain, perhaps forever, they say.


Others disagree, saying: “Uniform or no uniform, is the Customs Service doing well or not? Those who wore the uniform in the past, what did they do? Why make a mountain out of a molehill? Na uniform we go chop?”

A little bird has whispered to me why senators are insisting that Ali “must go” or put on his uniform. The Senate has, after what a source described as a long, tortuous , painstaking and rigorous intellectual exertion, discovered that should all key government officials wear uniforms, there will be a remarkable improvement in our standards of living. Life expectancy will be boosted, infant mortality will be gone and poverty will get a final farewell. Besides, corruption will fail in its desperate bid to kill Nigeria.

Senators, in other words, have discovered that our problem as a nation lies essentially in our mode of dressing.

Imagine the Works, Power and Housing Minister going to work in a workman’s boots, overalls or a pair of jeans and a helmet. This, going by the exotic wisdom and logic of the senators’ formula, will surely make everybody sit up. The poor electricity supply will give way to a new era of abundance in which more neighboring countries will enjoy uninterrupted supply – courtesy of Nigeria. All the potholes on our roads will simply disappear and we will all be driving with great pleasure. Old, wrecked bridges will be smashed and in their place new, glittering edifices that will make many of the world’s big cities envious. What is more, every Nigerian who desires to own a house will have his dream fulfilled.

The minister of Health, needless to say, should always deck out in a doctor’s white coat, a stethoscope dangling on his neck like a hip hop star’s golden necklace. All the challenges that have ailed that sector – strikes, obsolete equipment, fake drugs, fake personnel and funds shortage, will, of course, vanish like ice cream under the scorching sun.

Aviation has been in the news recently, with the closure of the Abuja Airport and the rehabilitation of the alternative Kaduna Airport. Would all the noise over the repair of the Abuja Airport’s runway be necessary if Minister Rotimi Amaechi had adopted the uniform formula? Imagine the honourable minister showing up in a pilot’s uniform. There would have been no such problem as safety concern, grounded airlines, inadequate navigational aids and shortage of funds. Above all, no aircraft will drop from the sky.


The controversial matter of Senator Dino Melaye’s educational background seems to have been settled somehow. He did everything to convince the world that he at a certain time was a student of the famous Ahmadu Bello University(ABU). He posted on the internet a picture of his NYSC days, with the senator wearing just a blue shirt while others turned out in the NYSC uniform. In fact, the Vice Chancellor was at the National Assembly to testify that Melaye was, indeed, a former student who went by the name Daniel Jonah Melaye.

Melaye, a smart fellow, knew that all this might not really hold water. He simply stormed the National Assembly in an academic gown. And all the noise subsided. Ah, the power of a uniform. His action, many have said, was a denigration of the academic culture. He is not qualified to wear the particular dress he wore as it is not for first degree graduates.

A source has just told me how long before the uniform issue became the subject of a national debate a minister had discovered the astounding gains of wearing a uniform. He designed one for himself and has been wearing it for official and private engagements.

Those ignorant fellows who hide under dubious nomenclatures, such as analysts, public affairs commentators and social critics, descended on the minister. Some described him as a new Civil Defence recruit awaiting his first set of uniforms. Others said he was an overzealous member of the Boys Scout. Yet, others dismissed him as an ex-serviceman-turned-doorman.

But, nobody, not even the most virulent of his critics, will deny that his ministry has recorded some marvelous achievements that have made him the envy of his peers. Again, wonders of a uniform. Step forward Solomon Dalong, the Honorable Minister of Youth and Sport.

Now, those who have seen the senators’ fixation with uniforms as an aberration may have a rethink. Among them are those who turned it all into jokes to deride the lawmakers. I recall one of such jokes, which a colleague sent to my mobile: “PHCN. So una finally increase una tariff after the Senate directed otherwise. Your MD must appear in uniform to explain.”

The Senate has suspended the confirmation of 27 Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) because, according to them, Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is still at his desk after failing to scale the confirmation hurdle, following a damning report from the Department of State Services (DSS). The report has been contested by Magu, who denies any wrongdoing. They are angry also that Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir Lawal shunned their invitation to answer questions on the N1.3b Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE) contracts. He should be fired, the lawmakers said.

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President Buhari remains quiet. Magu continues to press the throttle of investigations of alleged financial misdemeanors of some Senate President Bukola Saraki’s aides. At issue is about N3.5b said to be part of the Paris-London Club loan refund to states.

An unconfirmed source, whose maternal uncle is close to an aunt of a senator’s friend, has just told me that after the suspension of the confirmation of the RECs, if the Executive remains stubborn, the distinguished fellows will simply pass a resolution for the disbandment of the Executive.

Simple. A senator of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will stand up and plead to be allowed to raise “a matter of national importance”. The Senate President, presiding, will recognise him.

He begins to scream, his right hand pumping the air, the left holding his babaringa dress that keeps falling off his shoulders and his frowned betraying the anger that has seized the hallowed chamber. “Considering the fact that Nigeria must not be allowed to be a greedocracy, a government of the greedy, by the greedy and for the greedy. And whereas I am ready to say the truth rather than toe the line of lies like the Executive. I hereby move that we, this distinguished Senate, suspend the Presidency until further notice. All those being persecuted for alleged corruption are hereby asked to go about their businesses in peace. President Buhari has 14 working days to report here and address distinguished senators on why Magu and Lawal are still in office. And I so move.”

Senators are rushing to second the motion. A brief debate spiced with exceptional bitterness. A vote. “The ayes have it”.

Dear reader, no prize for guessing the mover of this motion.

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