Bill to establish Armed Forces Commission Rocks Senate

By Haruna Salami
Nigeria Senate was on Wednesday rocked with controversy over a bill to establish a Commission for the Armed Forces.

The bill was introduced by the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe over a year ago, but came up for a second reading on Wednesday.

In his lead debate, Abaribe said the proposed Commission for Armed Forces would ensure equitable representation of Service Chiefs across the six geopolitical zones of the Country.
He cited section 219 of the 1999 Constitution as amended which empowers the National Assembly to legislate on matters of the Armed Forces.
The motion sharply divided the Senate along Northern and Southern lines, with most Northern Senators claiming politicisation of the armed forces.
Though, the bill was voted out, sponsor of the motion, Enyinnaya Abaribe rejecting the outcome, insisted that individual votes must take place in line with order 73 of the Senate standing rules.
Abaribe then said, “Mr. President, this is parliament and the parliament is over twenty years old. You have been here since 1999 and you understand this. Let votes take place”.

Following the uproar, Senate President,  Dr. Ahmad Lawan  called for closed session.
Having gone into closed session, the Senate President reported back to plenary that they have reviewed many things in the national interest and the need for the Senate to continue to work in a bipartisan manner regardless of ethnic and regional disposition. 

Lawan then repeated the appeal of the entire members to Abaribe to withdraw his Order 73 and also the motion for more consultations and represent at a later date. 

The Minority Leader then reluctantly withdrew the Order 73 but merely stepped down consideration of the bill for more consultations. 

This done, the Senate President thanked Abaribe for his patriotic act and said after due consultations the members may buy into the bill as co-sponsors, making the passage easier.

The Senate the decided to suspend all other scheduled legislative activities on the Order paper and adjourned till Tuesday next week.