President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said the late Senator Joseph Wayas, ensured harmony between the executive and legislature when he held sway as Senate President between 1979 and 1983.
Lawan made this known while paying tribute to the deceased following the consideration of a motion brought to the floor by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (Kebbi North).
According to him, the late Wayas while serving as a presiding officer, was particularly concerned with ensuring peace, productivity and proficiency within the legislative arm of government.
He said, “Let me join our colleague who made remarks in the death of Senator Joseph Wayas, the third President of the Senate in the second republic.
“Senator Joseph Wayas as a presiding officer, President of the Senate and Chairman of the National Assembly, brought peace, productivity and proficiency in the legislature then.
“[And] of course, they had a very good working relationship between the two major arms of government (legislature and executive).
“Even though they had a House of Representatives that was presided over by another political party, he was able to manage the Senate and the House of Representatives in such a manner that there was productivity and high turnout of legislative interventions that made the executive arm of government at the time to function.
“For us, we have lessons to learn from his skills in running the affairs of the National Assembly then and the Senate, in particular.
“We have been managing ourselves here, in the way and manner that President of the Senate, Joseph Wayas, ran the Senate in 1979 to 1983.
“I believe that he had a decent life, and was not a controversial person and very open minded like all of us said.”
Sponsor of the motion, Yahaya Abdullahi, while coming under order 42 and 52, noted “with shock the demise of Senator Joseph Wayas, Former Senate President of Nigeria in the Second Republic who died on Tuesday, 30th November, 2021 at the age of 80;
“Notes that Senator Joseph Wayas was born in Basang, Obudu, Cross-River State on 21st May 1941 and attended Dennis Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha.
He went to the United Kingdom where he studied at the Higher Tottenham Technical College, London, the West Bronwich College of Commerce, Science and Technology, Birmingham and Aston University. Returning to Nigeria, he worked as a manager or controller from 1960-1969 for several companies in Nigeria and the United Kingdom;
“Observes that he was a member of the Society of International Affairs at the Lincoln University, United States;
“Observes also that he joined the Federal Government in 1969-72. He was commissioner for Transport, South-Eastern State, now Akwa Ibom and Cross River states from 1972-74;
“Aware that with the transition to civil rule in 1979, Senator Joseph Wayas was elected to the Senate on the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) platform and appointed Senate President. He represented the Ogoja Senatorial District alongside Senator Joseph Oqua Ansa who represented Calabar Senatorial District;
“Recalls that in the lead-up to the 1983 elections, Wayas was the leader of the NPN party’s “Lagos Group” that supported a change of government in Cross River State, in opposition to the “Home Front” led by the incumbent governor, Clement Isong.
“Senator Wayas left office along with other members of the Shagari administration following a coup on New Year’s Eve 1983, and went into exile. He returned in 1987 and was held in political detention, 1987-1988;
“Aware that Senator Wayas was the Deputy Chairman of the 1994/1995 National Constitutional Conference Commission that organized and midwifed the National Conference itself;
“Aware also that Wayas was a founding member of the All People’s Party. He later joined the People’s Democratic Party in 2001. He was a strong believer in true Federalism as the only solution to Nigeria’s democratic problems, which had been manifested in the Nigerian Civil War.
“In October 2003 he spoke out against the ongoing local council reforms by the Federal Government, describing them as “unconstitutional”;
“Further aware that Senator Wavas was appointed Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the South-South Peoples Assembly (SSPA). In January 2009 he described post-election petitions to electoral tribunals as senseless, reckless and time wasting;
“In January 2010, Wayas advocated that Vice President Goodluck Jonathan be authorized to act as President pending the return of President Umaru Yar’Adua, who had been incapacitated by illness for some time;
“Convinced that he was an eminent and committed leader, a perfect gentleman, a grassroots politician par excellence and a nationalist. His contributions to democracy and good governance remains unparalleled and will make his foot prints indelible in the sands of time; and
“Regrets that his demise is a great loss to his family, the people of Cross-River North and the Government of Cross-River State.”
Contributing, James Manager (Delta South) described the deceased as a man of dignity and a committed Nigerian who loved his people and the nation, and was role model to younger generation leaders.
“He (Wayas) represented across River North in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and to rise to being elected by people to represent them in a Senatorial district and among colleagues as presiding officer (President of the Senate) is a serious achievement in the life of every man.
Senator Manger called on the Senate to immortalize the deceased in accordance with the tradition of the upper chamber.
Another lawmaker, Senator Biodun Olujimi, said the late Joseph Wayas was a “quintessential gentleman” who was detribalized in his approach to issues of governance.
She admonished Nigerian leaders to emulate the life of the deceased by ensuring they use their positions to the benefit of Nigerians and the nation.
“Mr. President, we have been having so many deaths recently, and we are losing so many of our great minds.
“The time has come for us to have a change of attitude to everything, so that when someone dies we can say good things about them.
“This is the time to take Nigeria seriously. This is the time for us that are positioned in this chambers to take a different look at Nigeria, so that when we are old and gone, people can say when we were here, we made a whole lot of difference”, Olujimi said.
Accordingly, the Senate observed a Minute Silence in honour of Late Senator Joseph Wayas.
It also resolved to work with the government of Cross Rivers State and to fully participate in his Burial.
The Chamber in its prayers further resolved to send a condolence letter to commiserate with the family, the good people of his Constituency and the Government of Cross-River State.