Assessing Shekarau at the senate

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It is the campaign season again, and in the last few months, we have witnessed frenzied footwork of politicians jostling for party tickets. National Assembly legislators are not left out. While many have temporarily relocated to their home constituencies to secure or safe-keep their partisan interests, the red and green chambers have mainly been emptied, and legislative business has taken the back burner. As there are exceptions to every rule, the senator representing Kano Central senatorial district, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, is braving the odds to buck the trend.

Senator Shekarau has not allowed himself to be distracted from the serious legislative business that took him to Abuja. When political commentators, pundits, and journalists covering the National Assembly enquire why the Kano senator is hardly absent from his red vhamber duties, Malam’s associates remind them that diligence to duty sets the former governor of Kano state apart from his counterparts.

Malam is a federal legislator with a difference. Despite his active involvement in the meetings and discussions at political events reshaping the political landscapes of Nigeria as he leads millions of his followers into the NNPP, the new phenomenon projected to sweep through Kano and most states in the federation in the 2023 elections, he has remained focused on meeting his legislative obligations in the National Assembly. For Senator Shekarau, duty comes first. The nation comes first. The people’s needs must be prioritised beyond politics and without exception. When there was a gas explosion in Sabon Gari area, Malam rushed back home to play the role of comforter-in-chief to the victims and their families. He visited them and commiserated with them. This is vintage Malam. The people will always come first.

Philosophically, it was Thomas a Kempis who exhorted those who serve to “Activate yourself to duty by remembering your position, who you are, and what you have obliged yourself to be.” Senator Shekarau has committed himself to the duty he was massively elected by the Kano Central senatorial constituency to do. He is not using the excuse of politicking to duck his legislative work. Not in his character. The perceptive observer can discern the signature, style and substance of the senator’s politics by keeping a tab on how he performs his legislative functions in the face of other challenges.

As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service, Malam has been very active, patriotic and functional. Under his leadership, the senate committee has lived up to the expectation of the public to strengthen the institutions of governance and ensure diligent oversight. The Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service is responsible for ensuring that the federal bureaucracy functions optimally and is well motivated to drive the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes by the executive branch. The public service guarantees political stability, economic development, and social cohesion in the polity. Under Senator Shekarau, the oversight function prioritises consultation and collaboration between the agencies of the executive branch and the National Assembly.

The Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service recently took its oversight role to the Nigerian mission in Delhi, India, where Nigerian diplomats and Foreign Affairs Ministry staff serving at missions in Asian countries converged to write their promotion examinations as required by the extant rules of the Federal Civil Service. The entourage included the Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission, Dr. Tukur B Ingawa, and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On arrival, the Nigerian High Commissioner in India, Ambassador Ahmed Sule, received them. The chairman Federal Civil Service Commission, Dr Tukur Bello Ingawa, explained to the Senate Committee that the examination was taking place in all the regions, with Cairo for Africa, London for Europe, and New York for the Americas.

In India, the delegation, including the Federation’s Head of Service, Mrs. Folashade Esan, and some Federal Permanent Secretaries, paid a working visit to the Indian Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances, and Pensions. The delegation was briefed on the ministry’s activities by Mr V. Srinivas. The delegation also visited the Indian Institute of Public Administration and the Indian School of Public Administration, where they were received and briefed by the Director-General of the Institute, Surendra Nath Tripathi. At the end of the exercise, the Nigerian High Commissioner hosted the delegation for dinner at his residence.

Senator Shekarau’s commitment to legislative duty par excellence despite the distraction of politics has played a critical role in resetting executive-legislative relations at the federal level. Under the 8th Senate, this relationship was conflictual, and the bickering and avoidable conflicts created animosity between the two arms of government. As a two-term governor of Kano state and former minister of education, Malam brought to his position as chairman of the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service not only the experience of executive responsibility but the level-headedness of the imperative for cordiality in the relationship between two arms of government.

The civil service is the nerve centre of government. It plays a strategic advisory role in policy formulation, planning, monitoring, and evaluation. It is the central organisation that keeps the engine of service delivery going. The senate committee under Malam interprets its oversight responsibility as helping to nudge the bureaucracy to acquire the requisite capacity, provide the enabling legislation so they can render services, and are sufficiently motivated for the task.

This year, the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service has met its responsibilities meticulously: It conducted Public Hearings on some important Bills.

A Bill for an act to amend the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria Act Cap A26 LFN 2004-2022 (S.B 885), and a Bill for an act to establish the Chartered Institute of Mortgage Bankers and Brokers of Nigeria and for other Matters Related Thereto, 2022 (S.B). Stakeholders from all related agencies presented position papers during the hearing.

In March, the Senate Committee also conducted a public hearing for a Bill for an act to establish the Microbiology Council of Nigeria 2021 (S B 139).

As elections approach, Nigerians must elect only leaders with character and compassion. Legislators who abandon their duty post are derelict of their responsibilities. The Kano central senatorial electorate in Malam have a practical and focused representation in the red chambers. Four years later, Kano central is proud to have sent one of their most illustrious and credible sons to the National Assembly to represent them.

Dr Yau writes from Kano via
[email protected]

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