Over the years, there have been several debates, and agitations over the size of Nigeria’s federal legislative arm, the National Assembly, comprising the Senate and House of Representatives.
The debates have been further buoyed by the huge financial resources expended yearly, from the nation’s budget to maintain the 496 members that make up both chambers.
A comparison of lawmakers’ pay by the London based magazine, The Economist, shows Nigerian lawmakers topping the chart as highest paid.
Leaving South-Africa, United States of America to the fifth and thirteenth places respectively, Nigerian lawmakers, despite the high level of poverty in the land, eat the better part of the country’s budget.
BudgIT, an online analytics agency on public finance, has benergy part of a social initiative— #OpenNASS— where the agency continues to demand for a breakdown of the lawmakers’ pay. “In many ways, National Assembly has shown that it cares less about the demands of the people and transparency in general,” tweeted BudgIT in a series of tweets showing an overview of the National Assembly budget in fourteen years.
Upon his assumption as the Chairman of the National Assembly, Sen Bukola Saraki assured Nigerians of providing the details of the Assembly’s budget that has been shrouded in secrecy for years.
“You are going to see what goes to the management, what goes to the Legislative Institute and we are going to make all these open and clear,” said Saraki in 2015. He added that, “by the time we come into the 2016 budget, at the end of the year, it will be clearer because people just see one item line. But that is not going to happen now; you will see what goes to the Senate and what goes to the House of Representatives.”
While awaiting the openness and clarity, Saraki, again in March, 2016, reassured Nigerians that he was going to give a breakdown of the National Assembly budget. “We have resolved to break the tradition of one line item,” he explained.
Sadly, Nigeria’s eighth National Assembly, under Saraki, is yet to fulfill that promise.
A survey, anchored by one of Nigeria’s leading online news portal, Ripples Nigeria, has clearly revealed that majority of citizens would like that the country’s National Assembly be scrapped and restructured, with a view to drastically reduce the number of lawmakers, thereby reducing their financial burden on the nation.
Using the poser; Should Nigeria retain its Senate and House of Reps with 469 lawmakers at the federal level? 99 percent of respondents, said no, while only 10 per cent want the Senate and House of Representatives to be retained.
The post which was well pushed on social media reached well over 705,491 Nigerians, attracted comments from about 5,000 people, and was shared 2,011 times on Facebook alone
In the diverse opinions that trailed the poll, many Nigerians suggested that the country run a unicameral legislature rather than waste such huge funds on 109 senators and 360 members of House of Representatives.
“As Africans and Nigerians for that matter, we need just only one house that can effectively make laws and check the executive. The present system is too wieldy and expensive to run. But there must be a legislature!” opined Omosun Charles Nasiru. “No, we don’t need it!” screamed Austin Okeke. “It’s just a waste of resources and time. What we need is only reduced House of Reps. Combination of Senate and Reps is a duplication of functions, that creates inefficiency.”
For Adewale Ademola Justus, “the two chambers are not necessary and should be discarded for a Chamber with reduced membership of only two from each state and one for the FCT. Nigeria’s National Assembly is a sheer duplication and avoidable Waste of our resources.”
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