On July 15, Nigeria’s National Assembly (NASS) suspended plenary for nine weeks in order to enable federal lawmakers go on vacation.
The weeks-long holiday has generated diverse reactions amidst some important national issues left on the legislative table unfinished.
This, and two other stories bring to fore the challenge of leadership and Nigerians didn’t spare moments to interrogate the actions of the political class.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has given September 4 as the resumption date for Nigerian lawmakers to resume legislative activities.
Lawan had said that the Senate achieved what they set for themselves at the beginning of the year, making reference to the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), and Electoral Amendment Bill.
The Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, after announcing the recess said only the Committee on Finance, and Committee on Internal Security will be allowed to operate during the recess.
While it is commonsensical not to begrudge Nigerian lawmakers their right to embark on vacations, a major concern among citizens is what appears to be a deliberate move by legislators to take their feet off the throttle of two controversial bills namely, the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
Considered most strategic to the growth of Nigeria’s economy and institutionalization of transparency in the country’s electoral processes, the refusal of lawmakers to sacrifice their holidays in pursuit of these urgent national interests speaks to their shallow claims of patriotism.
It is, indeed, worrisome that both the Senate and House of Representatives refused to make the sacrifice of time, when most expedient, to reach a consensus on percentage funding of Host Communities’ Trust Fund and the e-transmission of electoral results.
To accuse the lawmakers of deliberately muddling the pending issues in pursuit of narrow political and selfish interests may not be out of place.
NASS MEMORY LANE
“I’ve said without fear of any contradiction that I am ready to give out my life if those in the Northeast can live in peace. The most painful thing on earth is for you to stay in your comfort zone while your constituents are dying like animals. Failure or inability on the part of the Nigerian Army to have a constructive listening of intelligence gathering from the DSS and other relevant informants in the community led to this attack. Mr. Speaker (Femi Gbajabiamila), as far as I’m concerned, this is a national issue. It happened today in Borno, but God knows where next it will happen in the 36 States of the federation because of negligence or complacency on the part of our security operatives?”
Answer: See end of post
Two other stories
On June 18, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, called for faster democratic procedures for the removal of incompetent and corrupt public office holders.
In a statement, he said among others:
“Provisions should be added in the Constitution to empower the people, through the elected representatives in the legislature, to enforce the removal of Ministers, Commissioners and other executive appointees with established cases of incompetence or gross misconduct.”
Elumelu’s concerns cannot be treated with a wave of the hand because his submissions are in tandem with the need to check abuses by political office holders and hold them accountable for their actions.
Since Nigeria’s independence, the problem of leadership has been a recurring decimal, dragging her developmental strides backward. Several leaders – elected and appointed – have been fingered in diverse administrative abuses without being prosecuted.
Elumelu’s concerns, while worthy of consideration, would make a lot more sense if he makes himself a shining example to be emulated. But beyond that, to rally his colleagues in pursuit of the noble ideals of good governance could portend even greater benefits for the society and country at large.
Former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, on July 19, affirmed that electronic transmission of results was best for the forthcoming 2023 general elections.
“It is unfortunate that just as was the case in the last National Assembly when efforts to better the quality of our elections were serially frustrated, and it was eventually not signed into law by Mr. President, non-progressives are equally frustrating the current exertions.
“But that is not enough to assume that everybody, who was not present at the July 15 plenary, simply chickened out. Why would Ekweremadu chicken out?” he said in a statement.
It is easy to see through Ekweremadu’s posturing, and this leaves a handful of questions for him and his absentee colleagues to address.
First, how come a consideration of final voting on an issues as sensitive as electronic transmission of election results did not matter to some lawmakers, especially those who seemed to have made the loudest noise?
Secondly, why have Nigerian lawmakers not instituted electronic voting, instead of voice votes as a way to transparently conduct their own affairs?
Finally, when would long term national interests matter most to Nigerian lawmakers rather than narrow selfish interests?
Ekweremadu must admit the failings of the legislature and he cannot, in all honesty, divorce himself from the rot given the fact that he once held sway as a top official in that chamber.
Answer: Hon. Ahmahdu Usman Jaha
Jaha made the statement on February 12, 2020, at the floor of the House of Representatives, while lamenting the killing of 30 persons by Boko Haram terrorists in Auno. He represents Chibok, Damboa and Gwozoa federal constituency.
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