On November 19, the President of the Nigerian Senate, Ahmad Lawan, called on Nigerians to punish lawmakers, who they perceive to have performed poorly, by voting them out in the coming 2023 polls.
He bared his mind while declaring open a retreat organised for top management staff of the National Assembly and National Assembly Service Commission in Abuja.
Faulting the growing national discourse over the role of lawmakers and their perceived jumbo salaries, Lawan came out strongly in defense of the National Assembly, arguing that the hue and cries were unnecessary as the institution exists to prevent dictatorship, yet receives less than 1% budgetary allocation of Nigeria’s total budget of N13.08 trillion.
“Without the National Assembly and the legislature across the country, what you have is not democracy anymore. So the value of the legislature and National Assembly to Nigerians is democracy. If you take out the legislature, it might not be a dictatorship, but certainly not a democracy,” the Senate President had said.
Lawan is obviously agitated, and the reasons may not be far fetched. The call by several Nigerians for a unicameral legislature, as a way to check unmanageable rise in cost of governance, is one that could force many politicians into the labour market. This is especially so as a sizable percentage of the lawmakers are career politicians.
The aggressive defense of the perceived jumbo pay, therefore, speaks to the unwillingness of most of the country’s political office holders to make financial sacrifices, in the face of worsening economic crisis, for the larger good.
Many even think Lawan’s call for underperforming lawmakers to be voted out smacks of mockery. They may not be too far from the truth, and this is because the country has a history of conducting elections with very low integrity where votes hardly count, as corrupt politicians get increasingly desperate.
It would be trite to state that demands for a radical review of the wages and emoluments of public officials would continue to reverberate as profligacy among them remains common place.
NASS MEMORY LANE
“I know what I am saying; I know that tomorrow people can come for me. I am calling for the immediate removal of all the service chiefs and their immediate replacement with competent ones. The truth of the matter is that they have overstayed and the officers under them are not stimulated (motivated) to work, perform and to end this war. This is my position.”
Answer: See end of post
Two other stories
Abaribe on Buhari
The Minority Leader of the Senate, Enyinnaya Abaribe, on November 20, unreservedly dismissed the Buhari-led government as a total failure on all fronts.
He stated this when he appeared on a Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily.
Abaribe had said, among others, that the “truckload of propaganda the current administration was trying to push in the face of the citizens would not be enough to cover up its failures on every aspect of life.”
“You don’t have any other way of trying to cover it. You can say all the rhetoric; you make all the propaganda. You can go ahead and try to pull the wool over the eyes of the people, but the #EndSARS protest showed a failure of this government,” he added.
Abaribe’s stance on Buhari would not come as a surprise to many. He is the leader of opposition and the tag behoves him to keep the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on its toes.
But Abaribe cannot be totally accused of unguarded bias. Among the many failings of the ruling party are rising security, unemployment, unbridled foreign borrowing, infrastructural decay across the country, and poverty.
Though backers of the Buhari administration would see Abaribe’s posturing as unnecessary distraction, they may do well to appreciate the substance of the claims rather than throw the baby away with the bath water.
However, there are concerns that the opposition in Nigeria hardly understands its role as it rarely offers workable alternatives nor does it border about the unacceptable decay even in the areas controlled by them.
For a better Nigeria, its ruling elites must wash themselves clean of purely damaging criticisms and settle for constructive engagement.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, on November 18, called for an increase in the funding of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), to tackle drug abuse in Nigeria.
According to a statement by his media aide, Yomi Odunuga, he said: “The funding of NDLEA is inadequate. This is a very serious issue. It provides very serious services. We need to make everyone understand how important it is and give them adequate funding.”
Omo-Agege’s call is well-received. It would not be the first time, though, that a call would be made for an increase in the funding of the agency.
In 2016, a joint committee of the National Assembly decried the paltry N100,000 running cost for state offices of the agency reportedly given them monthly. And, this is in spite of the fact that the country’s rising youth population was resorting to substance abuse.
Indeed, a 2019 report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), and the Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse, had it that nearly 15% of the adult population (around 14.5 million people), between 25 to 39 years, abuse drugs.
Beyond mouthing support, therefore, for an increase in funding for NDLEA, the Nigerian legislature must do the needful by ensuring that it appropriates the right amounts of money for both capital and recurrent expenditure for the beleaguered agency.
However, while calling for better funding of the agency, the place of accountability and transparency on how the funds are expended should not be overlooked.
Answer: Ahmadu Jaha
Jaha made the statement on January 29, 2020, after the House of Representatives debated the killings by Boko Haram in the North-East region based on a motion moved by the Chief Whip of the House, Mohammed Monguno. Jaha represents Chibok/Damboa/Gwoza Federal Constituency of Borno State in Green Chambers of the National Assembly.
By John Chukwu…
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