Twenty eight months after the appointment of Senator Ita Solomon Enang as the presidential aide on National Assembly (Senate), Daily Trust takes a look on how the Akwa Ibom politician has fared in managing the relationship between the executive and the Se
Appointed at a time when there was no love lost between the executive, especially the Presidency and the Senate, Senator Ita Enang has been swimming from one trouble to the other, trying to mend fences and cement cracks.
Enang’s appointment came two months after the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as the Senate President, against the wish of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). The division at the Upper Chamber was pronounced and deep but as time went by, the lawmakers cemented their crack and forged ahead.
With the resolution of the internal wrangling, the battle has since shifted to between Senate and the executive, with Enang at the middle of the whole drama. It has been from one trouble to the other, unlike what is obtainable at the House of Representatives. There is relative peace between the House and the executive.
Records showed that since the return of the country to democracy in 1999, five presidential liaison officers for the National Assembly have been appointed. They are Aminu Wali (1999-2003), Senator Florence Ita-Giwa (2003-2007), Senator Mohammed Abba-Aji (20072011), Senator Joy Emodi and Senator Ajadi Makanjuola served between 2011 and 2015.
Our correspondent reports that all the liaison officers had challenges peculiar to the exigencies of their times. But that of Enang, regarded as a thoroughbred lawmaker with close to 20 years experience in National Assembly (House and Senate) seems to be overwhelming and unending.
Liaison officers are appointed to serve as a ‘messenger of the president’, receiving and transmitting communication from the president to the Senate and vice versa. The responsibility of lobbying of senators also falls on the shoulders of the liaison officer.
Aside these, the liaison officer guides presidential appointees like ministerial nominees and others during screenings, budget defenses, probes, public/ investigative hearings among other interactions/ engagements between the lawmakers and heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
The primary responsibility of Enang in ensuring peaceful and harmonious working relationship between the executive and the Senate has been a mirage as many heads of MDAs have had their own battles with the Senators at one time or the other, thus enlarging the friction and suspicion between the two arms of government.
The missing budget was a record-breaking feat recorded by the president’s aide. In January 2016, Enang was indicted in the budget disappearance controversy. A committee set up by Saraki specifically accused Enang as being responsible for the disappearance of the document. That was the first time the country’s budget would be disappearing.
In October of same year, he was also involved in another trouble. It was the case of a version of report of the Department of State Services (DSS) on the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu. While the clerk to the Senate had a report that indicted Magu, Enang had another that cleared the embattled EFCC boss.
The controversy created by the report is yet to be buried over a year after. Twice, the Senate had rejected Magu and the refusal of the executive to implement the lawmakers’ resolution has brought about a logjam in confirmation of President Buhari’s nominees. Records have it that confirmation of about 50 nominees are pending in Senate as a result of this quagmire. The lawmakers have embargoed confirmation hearings.
It was under the watch of Enang that the sacked Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal, ran into trouble. Lawal’s crisis with the Senate started when he said the executive won’t fund the constituency projects of the lawmakers for 2016. It was after the constituency projects brouhaha was laid to rest that the grass cutting contract scandal reared it face, this led to the sacking of Babachir.
The fire ignited by the chairman of the Senate Committee on Navy, Isah Hamma Misau (APC Bauchi) against the Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris has not been quenched, just as the Attorney General of the Federation(AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, is being probed at the Senate over his role in the circumstances surrounding the return and promotion of the former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina.
While the Comptroller General of Customs, Hammed Ali’s uniform controversy has died down, a new controversy is brewing involving heads of MDAs. Only on Wednesday, the Senate raised alarm over the lackadaisical attitudes of top government
Senator Ita Solomon Enang