Nigeria’s social media space was, in the last two weeks, inundated with the development in the Senate Hallowed Chamber, where, as it was reported, the Senate sought to install the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki as the Acting President. This, of course, followed Acting President Osibanjo’s outing to Ethiopia, on an official function.
In the heart of the subject under this conversation were matters which came before the Senate in succession after their return from the Sallah recess.
One, was the letter from Acting President Osinbanjo, requesting the confirmation of Mr. Lanre Gbajiamila as the Director General (DG), National Lottery Commission. Arising from which and coming through point of order, Senator Ahmad Yerima, also stood up to argue that all request from the presidency bordering on confirmation of appointments be put in abeyance pending the resolution bordering on the earlier remark by the Acting President Osinbanjo, that the Senate had no power to confirm nominees from the presidency, thus, rekindling the on-going tussle between the two over the appointment of Ibrahim Magu, as Chairman, Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
Two, from the contribution of Senator Abaribe in which he sought to move the Senate into bestowing the position of Acting President on the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki. Simply put therefore, the central plank in Senator Abaribe’s presentation is that, since President Buhari is indisposed and given that Acting President Osinbanjo is out of the country, the Senate should move in and declare the third person in hierarchy, the Senate President, as Acting President of Nigeria.
Three, (which is subject matter of this conversation), was the reaction of Senator Kabir Marafa to Senator Abaribe’s motion. We shall return to this issue shortly. What is important to note is that, since this development there has followed a serialization of this issue which, while entirely being misrepresented and many of its personages, it fundamentally obfuscate the real essence of the debate especially by certain segment of the social media.
Permit me at this stage to restate that, while the advent of social media has widen public space, the reach and discourses on matters of governance, it has also heightened and provided robust platform for citizen’s participation, a central theme at ensuring accountability of public officials, which is at the heart of democratic ideals and practices globally. But sadly, the social media (of course, a certain segment of them) have also brought with it growing schism and opprobrium especially in the manner they often deploy and distort issues, events and personalities towards achieving predetermined objectives. This makes it the more reasons why the conversations on Senator Marafas contribution need to be properly contextualized.
While Senator Marafa’s contribution which, partly using Order 53 subsection 4 of the Senate Standing Rule, was a response to the position put up by Senator Abaribe, the crux of his submission, firstly, amongst others, countered the earlier request as having no basis. This is as he; secondly, argued that the request as contained was, in the first place, needless since there exist no vacuum and that the country’s ground norm has very explicitly taken care of such situation, where the need may arise. But even more so is that, Senator Marafa’s insistence is on the need for caution (which is the entire gamut of Order 53 subsection 4) that senator’s must not only confine, but need to also restrain themselves from bringing extraneous issues to any subject under debate.
What appears missing in a number of many of these reportages and conversation is the essence of the timely presentation of Senator Marafas position. For instance, while the submission exudes the imprimatur of a well informed position of a parliamentary debate, it also provided the locus-standi which foreclosed further discussion on the subject matter by the presiding officer. It was indeed a saving situation.