Senate amends rules, approves simple majority for electing president, others

By Deborah Peter://

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

This was even as the upper legislative chamber also retained a closed ballot system of voting for the election of the President of the Senate and the Deputy.

The amendment followed the consideration of a motion pursuant to Order 111 of the standing rule, which was sponsored by the chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Suleiman Umar (APC Kwara North), and the vice chairman, who is the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi (APC Kebbi North).

The committee had proposed two-third majority in its report. 

Senator James Manager (PDP Delta South), threw his weight in support of a two-third majority for the election of officers, but Senator Ibikunle Amosun (APC Ogun Central) kicked against it.

On his part, Senator Rochas Okorocha (APC Imo West), proposed an amendment for a two-third majority spread across all geo-political zones of the country, but was not adopted owing to the refusal of senators to second same. 

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

Lawmakers in the majority, who were swayed by the Senate President’s observation, accordingly voted in support of a simple majority for the election of presiding officers. 

In his presentation, the chairman, Committee on Rules and Business recalled that the Senate Standing Orders were last amended in 2015, “to accommodate issues that will make such Orders dynamic to facilitate effective legislative process.”

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

He said: “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 8th Senate and do not have their functions and jurisdictions reflect in the Standing Order of the Senate.”

“There also exist some areas in the Senate Standing Orders that requires amendment to ensure fm reflection of present realities, smooth running of the Senate and international best parliamentary practice.

“In the face of the Senate Standing Order, there exist no provision for Order 4 to 8 and numbering error in Order 95.”

Accordingly, the Senate amended the committee’s proposal under Order 2 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.

The chamber amidst 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 Admissions and Matriculations Board, JAMB to fall within the jurisdiction of its Committee on Tertiary and TETFUND.  

In his remarks, the Senate President commend the committee for working hard to propose “important” amendments to the Standing Orders.

“As far as I know, this is the first time that the Senate would 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 stressed.

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