Voting in Senate: Why were our Senators on Awol?, By Dons Eze

From the records available during the consideration of the Electoral Amendment Act in the Senate, out of 15 Senators from the South East geopolitical zone, only eight Senators were present when the Nigerian Senate voted NO to the use of electronic device to transmit election results. The other seven Senators were on (AWOL), away without leave.

Only Ebonyi State had all their three Senators present and voted during the voting exercise. Both Abia and Imo States had two Senators present, while Enugu State had only one Senator present. All the three Senators from Anambra State were absent.

The South East Senators who voted for the electronic transmission of results were, Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia); Sam Egwu, Obinna Ogba and Nnachi Ama Michael (Ebonyi); Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu); and Francis Onyewuchi (Imo); while Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia); and Frank Ibezim (Imo); voted against it.

The seven senators that were absent and therefore did not vote, were Lilian Uche Ekwunife, Stella Odua and Ifeanyi Uba (Anambra); Ike Ekweremadu and Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu); Rochas Okorocha (Imo) and Theodore Orji (Abia).

The questions on the lips of many people when the outcome of Senate’s voting was made public were: where were these absentee Senators from the South East? Where did they go during the Senate’s consideration of the Electoral Bill? Were they aware that such an important bill was billed for consideration and possibly voted on, and they deliberately decided to stay out?

Did our Senators consider the possible effect on their constituents by their absence when the bill would be passed, one way or the other, and they were comfortable about it?

Those who voted against the electronic transmission of election results, were they convinced that this would be to the best interest of the people they represent, or were they after their own selfish interest, or were doing the bidding of other external interest?

This open display of how individual Senators voted in Senate during the consideration of election transmission results, points to the possible way some of our lawmakers have been representing us, perhaps, pursuing their personal interests to the detriment of the people they claim to represent.

Out of 109 Senators in the Upper Legislative Chamber of the National Assembly, the South East geopolitical zone has only 15 Senators, which means that the other 94 Senators come from outside the zone.

Because of their poor numerical strength, some people may argue that 15 Senators from the South East will not be able to alter any equation in the 109-member Senate, and therefore, there will be no need for them to be wasting their time attending Senate proceedings.

But we think otherwise, because these 15 South East Senators, if they are to be serious with their duty and able to act together, they can make very serious statement in the Senate on any issue. Apart from spotlighting and standing firm on what they believe would be beneficial to the people of the South East, they should be able to convince Senators from other geopolitical zones to see things in their own eyes and to stand by their side.

Unfortunately, while the South East zone will be crying of marginalization and under representation at the centre, those who have the privilege to represent their interest, either as elected lawmakers or appointees of government, seem to be seeing things differently. Many of them will be after their personal interests, and will hardly consider the overall interest of those they claim to represent.

That’s why we are still where we are! Even if you give them Igbo President, we may not see anything much difference.

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