New Telegraph

Implications of rubber stamp National Assembly

Shortly after the Presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday, February 25, this year, some lawmakers-elect expectedly commenced horse-trading in a bid to position themselves as the principal officers of the two Chambers of the National Assembly – the Senate and House of Representatives. The All Progressives Congress (APC) has even gone ahead to hold a crucial meeting with all its lawmakers-elect in attendance The meeting is said to be in respect of ensuring that the party produces the key principal officers at the National Assembly including the President and Deputy President of the Senate, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives which will go a long w well as helping the President to seamlessly secure parliamentary approvals for his requests.

While the New Telegraph does not frown at politicians showing interest in some sensitive positions, our worry, however, is that some of those jostling to become principal officers in the National Assembly are not service-oriented persons. We regret that the present moves may bequeath to Nigeria the misfortune of a rubber stamp 10th National Assembly, which will not be the best for the nation. The Ninth National Assembly, now in its twilight, is an example of what a Parliament ought not to be.

It is, for want of a better expression, a legislative calamity. It never exhibited the will to thoroughly grill President Muhammadu Buhari on sensitive national issues, let alone insisting on timely formulation and diligent execution of policies.

In many instances, the National Assembly failed the populace, as it stood rooted to the ground like a monument, watching with hands akimbo as Mr President and some top officials of the government revel in excesses to the detriment of the country. New Telegraph recalls with displeasure that time without number, the out-going National Assembly gave tacit approval or remained silent with regard to some absurdities in the country. One of them is large scale terrorism. The National Assembly adopted a lukewarm attitude towards taking realistic measures to help combat terrorism. Another parliamentary failure was its inability to stop Mr President from creating additional outfits in order to reduce the cost of governance.

The eventual establishment of three separate universities for the Army, Navy and Air Force, despite the fact that the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna, established in 1964, functions as a high-profile military institution for the armed forces as well as a university. A yet another illustration of the Ninth National Assembly’s perception as being a rubber stamp Parliament is its indifference to the complete disregard of the principle of Federal Character. Indigenous persons from one particular part of the country have dominated public and military organisations at the expense of individuals from other parts of the country.

The National Assembly turned into a spectator as some parts of the country were excluded from vital projects. Mention must be made of the South- East and South-South, which were excluded from the construction of the standard railway lines that were inexplicably extended to the Niger Republic. The silence of the National Assembly over the repeated failure of Mr. President to properly handover to the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, during some of his trips abroad, remains an indelible dent on the legislators. New Telegraph urges members of the 10th National Assembly to resist the temptation of seeing themselves as primarily as party men and women but they should appreciate the fact that, as the people’s representatives, they are duty-bound to reflect the yearnings of the populace in their legislative interventions.

The 10th National Assembly should, soon after its inauguration, insist that the President submits his list of ministers to it for screening, as the Constitution does not allow the number one citizen to rule the country as a Sole Administrator.

The Parliament should also lead the way in the reduction of cost of governance regardless of the different parties that the lawmakers belong to. The cost of governance will be best actualised by the National Assembly putting its foot down against medical tourism. The legislator should be resolute in raising her red flag to requests by the new President and other top officials of the Federal Government to embark on overseas medical treatment, as such funds could be deployed into bequeathing the nation a functional and dependable health sector.

They should also look at the issue of the number of aides and assistants available to political office holders in order to reduce their number as a way of further curtailing excessive government expenditure. Attempts to establish additional outfits with conflicting mandates should be resisted.

The Parliament should be courageous enough to diligently scrutinize all Mr. President’s loan requests. The fact that the loans are said to be used for infrastructural upgrade is not a justification for Nigeria to be on a cocktail of piling up debts under any borrowing-happy administration. While New Telegraph welcomes the10th National Assembly, it should strive hard to re-enact the golden era of Nigeria’s legislature when debates at plenary exhibited as much thoroughness, diligence and oratorical eloquence which ultimately produced well thought out bills which enhanced the lives of the people whom they are representing in Abuja.

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