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Senate amends rules, approves simple majority for electing presiding officers

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Senate on Tuesday at plenary, amended its Standing Rules 2015, and approved a simple majority for the election of presiding officers.

It also retained a closed ballot system of voting for the election of the President of the Senate and Deputy.

The amendment of the rules followed consideration of a motion pursuant to Order 111 of the Senate Standing Rule, 2015.

The motion was sponsored by Chairman of the Committee on Rules and Business, Sen. Suleiman Umar (APC-Kwara),Vice Chairman, who is the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC-Kebbi).

The Rules and Business Committee had proposed two-third majority in its report.

Sen. James Manager (PDP-Delta), supported a two-third majority for the election of officers,

Sen. Ibikunle Amosun (APC-Ogun), on his part, kicked against the adoption of a simple majority.

Sen. Rochas Okorocha (APC-Imo), proposed an amendment for a two-third majority spread across all geo-political zones of the country.

His proposed amendment, however, failed, given refusal of senators to second same.

Senate President, Mr Ahmad Lawan, however cautioned that an amendment in the direction of a two-third majority could be exploited to frustrate the inauguration and election of presiding officers.

Lawmakers in the majority, accordingly voted in support of a simple majority for the election of presiding officers.

Chairman of the rules and business committee, Umar, earlier in his presentation, had recalled that the senate standing orders were last amended in 2015, to accommodate issues that would make such orders dynamic to facilitate effective legislative processes.

He noted that despite the amendment, there were a number of issues that required further amendment in response to emerging developments which required enhanced rules of practice and procedure for sound legislation to tackle such developments.

“Aware that the development necessitated and has made it imperative to amend the standing orders of the senate 2015 (as amended) occasioned by the slit and addition of senate standing committees by the eight senate and do not have their functions and jurisdictions reflect in the standing order of the senate.

“Further aware that there also exist some areas in the senate standing orders that requires amendment to ensure reflection of present realities, smooth running of the senate and international best parliamentary practices.

“Notes that in the face of the senate standing order, there exists no provision for Order 4 to 8 and numbering error in Order 95; and

“Aware that the amendments have been circulated to senators in accordance with Order 111 Rule 2 of the senate standing order”, Umar said.

Accordingly, the senate amended the committee’s proposal under Order two to allow a simple majority for the election of the president of the senate and the deputy.

It also amended Order 96 to provide for senators to be members of not more than seven committees at a time, while committee membership would consist of not less than seven members and not more that twenty members at most.

Senate in the amendments to order 96, also moved the defunct Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), now the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) to be under the jurisdiction of the Petroleum Upstream Committee.

Also moved was the Joint Admission Matriculations Board (JAMB) to fall within the jurisdiction of its committee on Tertiary and TETFUND.

In his remarks, Lawan, commended the rules and business committee for working tirelessly to propose important amendments to the standing orders.

“As far as I know, this is the first time that the senate will amend its standing rules in plenary, and a huge sort of exercise to introduce and sustain efficiency in the operations of the senate.

“We believe that this will go a long way in making us do better in our activities here in the senate.

“The Clerk of the Senate, ensure a production of a new standing orders book and, if we may, by the time the senate resumes in January, every senator should have a new standing order of the senate 2021 (as amended),” Lawan said.

Kingsley Okoye

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