Awfulness of bi-cameral legislature in Nigeria, by Aminu Salihu Yakudima

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There is no citizen of Nigeria including those in diaspora, with the exception of the present 9th National Assembly Members of the upper and lower chambers, who is in support of the status quo of our democratic system especially the bicameral legislature as constituted presently. The reasons for referring to the Nigerian bicameral legislature as awful as in the caption of this article and citizenry’s lack of inclination are not farfetched.

This is neither a postulation of restructuring nor permutation for its advocacy, but hard facts about our political structures; its dynamics and dysfunctional as it relates the legislature.

May, I therefore, draw your attention and urge you to carefully study our political situations with reference to activities of the National Assembly. Look at reasons enumerated below and reflect deeply in your mind before propelling at which and what is to be desired. We will allow you with your conscious and own judgement to arrive at correct decisions as patriotic citizens.

READ ALSO: Leadership challenge and poor national planning in Nigeria, by Aminu Salihu Yakudima

In order to encourage you value a decision, remember that patriotism is the inner conviction of having the country first before other considerations. Also, selfless service and enthusiasm for collective drive to foster development are part of patriotism.

Perhaps, everyone is entitled to an opinion and best opinion is the unbiased one and not rigidity. An opinion that is honest, sincere and with the wisdom of consultation. The one appealing to social justice.

For the benefit of those who are unaware or don’t understand organisational structure of the National Assembly, find below briefly as obtainable;

It’s structured in an upper and lower chamber with 360 Members, representing constituencies of nearly equal population as far as possible. And 109 Senators in the upper chamber. Making a total of 469 federal lawmakers. There exists a Commission constitutes of civil Servants whose responsibilities include administrative services, maintenance of infrastructure and provision of welfare.

This category of personnel are operating within a system which is being guided by standing rules and regulations. They have monthly salaries and other fringe benefits. There are straitjacket conditions of service and separate establishment manual for them. They worked to manage Members and facilitate the activities of the Institution.

Members of National Assembly are not civil Servants. They are elected and not appointed. Therefore, their responsibilities are not similar to those aforementioned. They do unique things even at the point of reporting. Every Member shall, upon assumption, declare his or her assets and liabilities. Compulsorily take and subscribe to the oath of allegiance and oath of membership. By this action, they have automatically sworn to uphold, protect and defend the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

On this premise and by the provisions of 1999 constitution as amended, fundamental functions of Legislators are enactment of laws and exercising oversight functions. They are also, on behalf of the citizens, hold Executive to account for their actions and supervise functions of the administration.

Against this backdrop, Parliament as one of the pillars of democracy, must exist to give credence to the system and play a critical role in governance. Unfortunately, understanding and operations of many Politicians about constitutional responsibilities of Legislators have completely changed. They have gone capriciously in recent years. As such, there is a serious derailment in their operations at the National Assembly.

Some look at it as an avenue to make quick money and have unlimited access to government for businesses. Others use the position as an instrument of influence and use of power at will . Sadly, some of them become desperate and daring in taking and retaining power and authority. Eventually, substantial number are reckless and arrogant. And some of them are as simple as every ordinary citizen. An easy going Individuals with noble characters.

There are many constraints associated with the bicameral legislature hence the heels of agitations for scrapping it from the Nigerian democratic system. There is no time enough to enumerate in details some of the constraints profoundly pleaded. Viz;
I. Very expensive.
2. Low productivity.
3. Ineffectiveness.
4. Compulsory redundancies.
5. Lack of accountability.

For these and aforesaid reasons, there is need to quickly scrape bicameral legislature and adopt unicameral part time legislature. We may retain the upper chamber ie the Senate as exist currently with three Senators from each State and one from the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja or expand it with two additional Senators from each State or scrapping of both chambers and have a unicameral consist of 150 Legislators only.

Let us make it sizeable and a part time job. Pay reasonable allowances and not jumbo monthly salary, quarterly and constituency allowances. Let us stop payment of hundreds of millions as fringe benefits and what they called, ‘collapse and share’ in an attempt to reduce cost of governance in the Country and be responsibled citizens.

Productivity would definitely surface in a system that set up goals and parameters for attaining them. Part time Membership would be more productive and cost effective for obvious reasons. There would be possibility of robust productivity by the emergence of patriotic first eleven who may be interested in part time arrangement only.

The annual budget of the National Assembly coming in billions of dollars and the foreign debts can be drastically reduced and injected to People’s oriented developmental projects across the Country. Certainly, if these arrangements see the light of the day, beneficiaries will triple the number of those currently benefiting from the budgetary system of the National Assembly. For benefits of doubt, 139 billion Naira was their budget for 2019.

Above budget figures were higher than the budgets for education, health, police, DSS, etc that are also crucial Institutions in the development of any nation and its security architecture.

The proposed number of Legislators for unicameral part time would be sufficient to address the Nigerian’s diversity and ethnic composition and ensure justice, equity and fairness to all geopolitical zones and States of the Federation.

GOD save Nigeria!

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