Senate: 12 Controversies In 12 Month.
1 Emergence of Saraki
The emergence of Senator Abubakar Bukola
Saraki (APC, Kwara Central), as the Senate
President on June 9, 2015, in what was described
as an “apparent disregard” to the directive of the
All Progressives Congress (APC), laid the
foundation of the controversies that has
enveloped the upper chamber.
Saraki, a former governor of Kwara State, edged
out Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe North), the
preferred candidate of the APC to clinch the
Senate’s plum job, after allegedly resting on the
strength of senators of the Peoples Democratic
The alliance apparently paved the way for the
emergence of Senator Ike Ekweremadu, (PDP,
Enugu West), as the Deputy Senate President, a
development that dealt a serious blow to the
APC’s control of the upper chamber.
2. Wardrobe allowance
A week after the inauguration of the Senate came
the controversy of fat wardrobe allowance for the
senators. In both traditional and social media, the
story of the half million naira wardrobe allowance
went viral, thus dominating public discourse in
Each of the 109 senators was given N506, 000 to
fill their wardrobe with ‘senatorial attires’. The
money was released at a time when many states
were finding it difficult to pay workers’ salaries.
3.Rejection of APC nominees
Another issue that created a storm in the Senate
was Saraki’s rejection of the party’s preferred
candidates for the position of principal officers. In
a letter, signed by the party’s national chairman,
Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the party
recommended Saraki’s rival, Ahmad Lawan as
Majority Leader; Professor Olusola Adeyeye as
Chief Whip, Senator George Akume as Deputy
Majority leader and Senator Abu Ibrahim as
Deputy Chief Whip.
However, the refusal of Saraki to read the letter
on the floor of the Senate, which would have clear
the way for implementing the recommendation,
compounded his problem. Instead, the Senate
President went ahead to announce his preferred
candidates for the positions. Saraki turned down
the party’s request, saying ‘my hands are tied.’
Pundits believe that his refusal to implement the
APC recommendation deepened his sour
relationship with the party.
4.‘Forging’ of Senate Standing Order
In July, the Senate was enmeshed in “forgery”
scandal. It was alleged that its standing orders
used for the conduct of the election that brought
in Saraki and Ekweremadu as presiding officers
To this effect, the outgoing Clerk to the National
Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa and others were
grilled by the police. The police high authorities
have since concluded their investigation and
confirmed that the document was truly forged.
Only recently, the Minister of Justice, Abubakar
Malami, gave an order that the case be looked
5.Probe of Lamorde
The probe of Ibrahim Lamorde, the erstwhile
chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission, (EFCC), also added to the gale of
controversies that the Senate recorded within the
last 12 months of the present administration.
The Senate commenced the probe weeks after the
wife of the Senate President, Mrs. Toyin Saraki,
was grilled by the EFCC, then headed by
Lamorde. One George Uboh had petitioned the
Senate over alleged diversion of recovered stolen
funds amounting to over a trillion naira by the
The Senate received knocks over the probe of
Lamorde. The probe was seen in many quarters
as an attempt to hit back at Lamorde for grilling
6.Saraki at CCT
None of the controversies exposed the Senate to
ridicule like the docking of the Senate President at
the Code of Conduct Tribunal, (CCT).
Saraki was docked on a 13-count charge
bordering on false assets declaration while he
was the governor of Kwara State. His pictures, in
court, went viral in the social media and also
adorned front pages of many newspapers the
7.Anti-Social media bill
The frivolous petition bill undoubtedly set
senators against the peoples, especially the social
media public. They were criticised when the bill
scaled through the second reading in December,
Sponsored by Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC,
Kebbi South), the bill, which was popularly known
as “Anti-social media bill” created serious uproar
in the polity. The climax of the opposition against
the bill was a protest at the entrance of the
However, senators bowed to pressure and
rejected the bill as Nigerians, during a public
hearing on the bill, vehemently opposed to it.
8.CCB, CCT amendment bill
At the peak of Saraki’s trial at the CCT came a
bill to amend the law establishing the Code of
Conduct Bureau, (CCB) and Code of Conduct
The bill sponsored by Senator Peter Nwaoboshi,
(PDP Delta North), passed through first and
second reading in 48 hours,hence the suspicion
that trailed it.
Although, the debate on the bill was suspended
on April 20, it went as the second most
controversial bill recorded in the first year of the
9. Exotic cars for Senators
The move by the Senate leadership to acquire
exotic SUVs for senators drew the fury of
Nigerians when former President Olusegun
Obasanjo wrote a letter to the federal lawmakers
in December. In the same month, President Buhari
also faulted the move in his maiden presidential
media chat. However, the lawmakers ignored the
advice and went ahead to acquire the cars in April
at twice the market price atthe whooping cost of
10..Missing of budget
The 2016 budget was like no other as it had
generated a protracted controversy between the
Senate and the Presidency.
Processing the document was hectic as it lingered
from January to May, before it was finally signed
by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The budget proposal was first “infected” with
controversy at the Senate on January 12, when it
emerged at end of a 90-minute closed door
session that the fiscal document had gone
missing. Two days later, the Senate announced
that two versions of the document were at the
On February 8, the issue of padding of the
document emerged during a budget defence of the
Ministry of Health. Its minister, Professor Isaac
Adewole, disowned the budget of his ministry,
saying it was doctored.
Afterwards, the issue of passage of the budget by
the National Assembly became a serious problem
as it was postponed thrice. It was first fixed for
February 25, then March 17. It was finally done
However, the controversy did not end, as days
after, the issue of the budget details became
another problem. The National Assembly
transmitted the budget summary without its
It took two weeks for, the summary to be made
available to the Presidency.
In April, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki,
slugged it out with the Chairman of the National
Assembly Service Commission, Dr. Adamu Fika,
over the appointment of Mr. Mohammed Sani-
Omolori, as the acting Clerk to the National.
It all started on April 20 when Fika, in a letter to
Sani-Omolori, announced the acting appointment.
But Saraki challenged the appointment, saying Mr.
Ben Efeturi should be considered for the
In a letter signed by his Chief of Staff, Senator
Isa Galaudu, Saraki said the appointment of Sani-
Omolori violated due process but Fika stood his
ground. After various machinations, he ‘’defeated’
Saraki as Sani-Omolori assumed duty as the
acting Clerk to the National Assembly on May 13.
12..Protests for and against Saraki
For days in April, protesters held vigil at the
entrance of the National Assembly, demanding for
Saraki’s resignation while another group insisted
he must remain in office.
The protesters demanding for his resignation
spent 72 hours and three nights at the entrance
of the National Assembly. The protesters hinged
their request on the CCT trial and the purchase of
Beside these controversies, our correspondent
reports that some other controversies recorded in
the first legislative year include the hiring of 282
aides, increase in the number of standing
committees from 57 to 65 without amending
Standing Orders and the attempt to suspend
Senator Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara Central)
over his utterances.
Senate: 12 Controversies In 12 Month.