By Haruna Salami
Opposition political parties in the 10th Senate have resolved to de-emphasise parliamentary politics to focus on how to ensure a virile opposition in the Senate to keep the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) majority on its toes.
Minority Leader, Simon Devou Nwadkwon (PDP, Plateau North) stated this Wednesday at the first meeting of the Minority Caucus at the National Assembly.
Obviously speaking against the backdrop of the uproar that followed the announcement of the minority leadership in the Senate Tuesday, Senator Nwadkwon said the 10th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is “unique in several ways”.
He said it reckons as “the most diverse Senate” in the history of Nigeria’s political development composed of senators from seven political parties including the APC with 59 members and the opposition parties of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) 36, Labour Party (LP) 8, New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) 2, Social Democratic Party (SDP) 2, All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) 1 and Young Progressive Party (YPP) 1; altogether 50 members of the Senate.
It will be recalled that some senators from opposition parties could not hide their disappointment over the process that led to the emergence of the minority leadership.
Senator Musa Maidoki, (PDP, Kebbi South) while speaking with journalists after the exercise Tuesday said he was not contacted in any way, not even the courtesy of an SMS.
However, rather than dwell on what he called “issues of parliamentary politics” Nwadkwon said they would rather “focus on putting machinery in place to unite all opposition parties and outline our Opposition Leadership Agenda to the Nigerian people that will ensure a virile opposition assertiveness in the Senate to keep the ruling majority on their toes”.
He said the legislative agenda and policy focus of the 10th Senate opposition leadership would be to ensure “parliament plays a critical role in representation and oversight for the attainment of good governance and sustainable development.
He said parliamentary oversight exercises control over the activities of the executive arm of government, including other roles like the making of the national budget in line with the provisions of the constitution to ensure efficiency, accountability, and value for money on government expenditures, policies, programmes and projects.
To achieve these, Nwadkwon said the leadership will prioritize the human capital development of opposition members through strategic partnerships and collaborations. Our SPCs focusing on the above-highlighted key thematic areas will further develop models and toolkits that will help opposition members periodically track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) consistent with the opposition parties’ leadership vision of leading a virile and assertive Senate that will work in the interest of the Nigerian people in all areas of law-making, oversight, appropriation, confirmation of appointments, representation, loan approvals, and constituency services.
Under our leadership, the opposition parties will establish a formal secretariat with dedicated professional staff to ensure proper coordination and provide relevant legislative support to opposition Members to excel in their mandate as representatives of their constituents.
The Opposition Leadership SPCs will work to specifically ensure the following:
“Help government to shift from line budgeting to citizens’ needs without adequate evaluation or bottom- up needs assessment to program Based Budgeting (CNTPBB) in terms of implementation, which will enable our constituents to benefit more from the national budget.
“Helps to improve Government efficiency in resource allocation by linking ‘citizens need to program performance to budget allocation’ through the budgetary process.
“Work with foreign, regional, and national parliamentary organizations; such as International Parliamentary Union (IPU), Global Parliamentary Association against Corruption; European Union Parliament; Commonwealth Parliamentary Association; National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, Westminster Foundation for Democracy; Sustainable Development Goals Network; PLAC; YIAGA Africa; Centre for Democracy and Development; International Republic Institute (IRI), African Parliamentary Advocacy and Reform Group (APARG) and National Democratic Institute to strengthen opposition activities in parliament to deliver good governance and national cohesion for Nigeria’s democratic survival.
“Strategically support Senators, and grace their constituency programs to build solidarity and support base as a deliberate measure.
“Initiate legislative actions through bills, motions, debates, and other legislative instruments to ensure a very assertive 10th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
“Vigorously pursue economic, infrastructural, and youth employment legislative actions including support for government policy proposals that aligns with the opposition legislative interest preference and focus.
“Establish a bipartisan outlet on issues of national interest supported by our Party’s vision and manifesto.
“Establish and organize the annual Parliamentary Opposition Party’s Summit to strategize, review and develop a roadmap for our role as opposition in the Senate.
“Ensure prominent visibility and vibrancy of opposition lawmakers in parliament.
“Create thriving synergy amongst stakeholders, party leadership, and the Nigerian People.
“Pursue and Lobby (where necessary) for the rights and privileges of opposition lawmakers.
“Provide inclusive, teamwork, transparent, and honest leadership in service of Nigeria, our great party, and my colleagues. 13) Protect and guarantee the welfare of our Members.