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The 10Th National Assembly That Nigerians Want, By Abba Dukawa

Jun 17, 2023

After hotly contesting for the 10th National Assembly leadership, and winners have emerged at both chambers; It is now time for the two houses to settle down for legislative business.

The proclamation of the 10 National Assembly came at a critical time when the country faces an economic malaise that has consigned millions of citizens to “Multidimensional Poverty. The challenge before the national assembly is to ensure that the wishes and aspirations of all Nigerians are considered during the lawmaking process.

The expectations of the citizens on members of the newly inaugurated assembly are much higher, considering the ruling party not controlling the two chambers.

In the current National Assembly, APC has 59 senators, PDP 36, LP 8, SDP 2, NNPP 2, APGA 1 and YPP 1. In this composition, the opposition parties have 50, which gives renewed strength to diversity. In the House of Representatives, the APC has 162 seats, PDP 102, LP 34, NNPP 18, APGA 4, ADC 2, SDP 2 and YPP 1.

Nevertheless, in the composition of opposition parties in the red and green chambers, other members will pull their weight when it matters most, unlike in the 9th Assembly, where opposition parties are unable to pull their weight. Most likely, the opposition party members in the assembly will checkmate the compromise of the National Assembly independency.  As the country’s citizens witnessed during the past immediate assembly, the Assembly became instrumental in jeopardising Nigeria’s Future by granting any careless executive loan request, both domestic and foreign, within the blinking of an eye.

This has resulted in the assembly becoming a rubber stamp which bars them from ensuring financial discipline and prudent management of the nation’s economy with unprecedented soaring national debts, where the country uses 50% of its revenue to service its debts!

Nigeria’s rising debt profile is fast becoming a worrisome trend. Debt servicing gulps N7.04 trillion under the immediate past administration. The 9th National Assembly has not been able to assert itself as an autonomous institution, preferring to treasure political party affiliation over and above the national interest.

In that dispensation, the executive arm of government was always certain of maximum support and approval of all proposals and requests, no matter how unpopular, injurious or backward. No doubt it is good to have a responsible legislature for harmonization and development, but when it gets to the level where the executive is always right, then such a level of questionable cooperation should worry citizens. The three arms of government are expected to operate independently and complimentarily, not dependent upon the manner that the former  Assembly has carried on.

On tasks before elected leaders of the national assembly and the members at large to remember that Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended), sections 4 (1) & (2): (1) “The legislative powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be vested in a National Assembly for the Federation which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives. (2)  The National Assembly shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof with respect to any matter included in the Exclusive Legislative List set out in Part 1 of the Second Schedule to this Constitution. 

The same constitution vested power on them to deliberate upon matters of national importance, public issues, problems and needs is an important function of a modern legislature. They also perform the critical function of overseeing the Executive and ensuring government spending aligns with Legislative intents.

All the lawmakers, irrespective of party affiliations, should remain focused on the legislative agenda for the emancipation of citizens. Both of them are in the saddle as a people trust them across the length and breadth of Nigeria.

Let the legislators’ loyalty remain to Nigerians, who will judge their success not by the number of bills passed by improving the socio-economic arising from the laws. In other words, the good must be seen and felt by Nigerians.

This is the moment for the members to be circumspect and roll up their sleeves, and all hands must be deployed on deck to alleviate citizens’ unbearable suffering, poverty, insecurity, and unemployment.

However, the country and citizens will not forget in a hurry how 9th National Assembly leaders Jeopardize Nigeria’s Future granted any request for careless executive loans, both domestic and foreign debts, within blinking of eyes.  Their inability to cultivate ensure financial discipline and prudent management of the nation’s economy has the soaring debts.

Nigeria is using 50% of its revenue to service its debts! Nigeria’s rising debt profile is fast becoming a worrisome trend. Debt servicing gulps N7.04 trillion under the immediate past administration.

With the current composition of seats in the two chambers of the country’s national assembly where the opposition parties would pull their weight when it mattered most. There should ensure by changing the old narrations where the National Assembly prides itself in ‘reporting’ errant serving ministers and heads of parastatals who defy its summons to the President. Lawmakers who scramble for constituency projects cannot be in the best position to make laws that will impact the people positively.

As elected representatives of the people, they are expected to assert the will of the people by invoking the relevant provisions of the constitution in the discharge of their statutory responsibilities of law-making, supervising the executive arm and also to prevent waste and corruption.

We cannot afford the misfortune of parading elected representatives who are always whipped along the lines of executive preferences. There has to be a balance of power and forces for our nation to ever dream of attaining the expected growth that our leaders have touted so often.

To be Fair, a legislature that cannot supervise and check the excesses of the executive is not worth its name at all. The truth is, such an assembly cannot claim to represent anyone when the chips are down. They represent only themselves, only their interests and their stomachs.

There is a need for the elected leaders of the national assembly and the members at large to remember that much as they are expected to all along, and their loyalty should be to Nigerians. In order to guarantee optimum performance.

Dukawa writes from Kano, Nigeria.