Armed Forces Service Commission Bill: Why Abaribe withdrew Order 73

Enyinnaya Abaribe

SENATOR Enyinnaya Abaribe has withdrawn Order 73 that would have compelled the Senators to vote individually on the proposed Bill on setting up the Armed Forces Services Commission as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution.

The decision was sequel to an appeal by some members of the Senate led by Ahmed Lawan, senate president.

Lawan had wisely pre-empted what would have degenerated into showdown between members of the Senate drawn across party line of All Progressives Congress, APC, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, by quickly calling for a closed door meeting of members.

They emerged after about 25 minutes and Lawan said: “Before we went into a closed session, the Minority Leader raised a point of order (Order 73) and there were interventions from our colleagues on the need for the order to be withdrawn. That was why I didn’t make any ruling on the order raised by the Minority Leader.

“Having gone into the closed session we have reviewed various things – national interest- and the need for this Senate to continue working in a very bi-partisan manner regardless of our ethnic or regional dispositions.

“We have appealed to the Minority Leader to withdraw the Standing Order 73 and of course the Minority Leader or indeed any distinguished senator here will have the opportunity to look into that Bill again in the future.

“Minority Leader, on behalf of all of us, I am appealing to you that please let’s withdraw Order 73 so that the business of the Senate will continue and then if it is your wish to represent the Bill, you may do so.

“I will advise strongly that let’s consult with our colleagues, as many as possible, to be part of the Bill as sponsors. I think that will help get an easier passage.”

Based on the appeal, Abaribe withdrew his order 73 as well as stepped down the consideration of the bill to a more “appropriate time.”

Abaribe said: “First, Mr. President, in order to preserve the dignity of this hallowed chamber, I wish to withdraw my Order 73.

“Second, and for us to be able to do further consultations on the bill that I have proposed, I wish also to step down the consideration of this bill until a more appropriate time.”

Abaribe had earlier in his lead debate said: “The bill seeks to get the National Assembly to give effect to the clear provisions of section 219 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

“The Armed Forces of Nigeria is a National institution of Nigeria that should be insulated by the vagaries of political divisions and therefore the framers of the Constitution in their wisdom inserted this section to prevent a situation where our National symbol of unity and strength could be sacrificed on the altar of political temperament.

“This bill seeks to establish the Armed Forces Service Commission to ensure that the composition/appointment of Service Chiefs of the Armed Forces of the Federation reflects Federal Character of Nigeria in the manner prescribed in Section 217 (3) of the 1999 Constitution.”

Chairman Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Surajudeen Basiru told reporters after the session that the amicable resolution of the issue   showed the maturity of the country’s democracy.

Basiru said: “What happened today is a testimony to the maturity of our democracy and ability for senators, being statesmen, to within a short period of time, resolve what ordinarily in the past could have led to rancorous deliberation and result.

“And the operating principle for resolution of the matter which is no winner, no vanquished.” – With reports from The Nation

– Mar. 18, 2021 @ 20:33 GMT |



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