By Saliu Olanrewaju Lah
It is no news that the elections of the National Assembly have been held and the winners and losers have emerged! But the matters arising from the elections are subject to public scrutiny.
In the upper chambers of the National Assembly, Senator Godswill Akpabio has emerged as the Senate President as the preferred candidate of the All Progressives Party and the Presidency. It is indeed somewhat of a keenly contested election where the recalcitrant Senator-Elect Abdulaziz Yari representing Zamfara West constituency insisted on testing his popularity. The results showed that Senator Godswill Akpabio polled 63, while Senator Abdulaziz Yari polled 46.
Also at the Lower Chambers of the National Assembly, Hon. Tajudeen Abbass representing Zaria Federal Constituency won with a staggering number of 353 out of the 360 house membership.
However, this scenario has generated some controversy in different quarters as it has called to question the integrity and independence of the Legislature as an arm of government with it’s functions clearly spelled out in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Legislature arm of government derived its functions from the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, section 4 states the independence of the Legislature.
Charles Montesquieu in his principles of Separation of Powers believed that, for any government to serve the good of the people, the various arms of government must perform their roles distinctively and be insulated from any form of control by any one of them.
Ironically in Nigeria, the executive arm of government has an overbearing power such that it has assumed a monarchy that dictates and dishes out instructions to the other arms of government, especially the National Assembly.
The elections of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives which produced Senator Godswill Akpabio and Hon. Tajudeen Abbass are a clear aberration and affront to the principles of Separation of Powers.
The Legislative arm of government is a creation of the Constitution just as the executive and it does not in any way superior to the legislative.
The 9th National Assembly has been described as an appendage and a rubber stamp as a result of its activities where every request brought by the executive branch were not properly scrutinized especially the issue of loan request which has left Nigeria indebtedness to the tune of 71 trillion naira both locally and internationally.
The 10th National Assembly as it is presently constituted may not be able to live up to the expectations of Nigerians as it is a creation of the executive.
Nigeria in the last two decades has not been able to develop to its capacity largely due to the quality of leaders we elected at various levels of government. Insecurity, unemployment, industrial strikes, moribund healthcare systems, and ineffective educational institutions have characterized every successive government and it has defied any known solutions.
The Legislative arm of government has been described by many pundits as the bastion of democracy and has a critical role to play in any democratic system by enacting laws that will improve the living conditions of its people.
This National Assembly can start by repealing the 2023 Electoral Laws and making far-reaching recommendations, especially in the area of double nominations. The former and current Presidents, Senators Ahmed Lawan and Godswill Akpabio, for instance, went up to the Supreme Court before their cases were determined.
The issue of ways and means recently passed by the 9th National Assembly should also be reworked as it has allowed the President of Nigeria to borrow up to 15% from the Central Bank. This can affect the monetary policy in terms of liquidity.
The 10th National Assembly should also look at the Central Bank Acts which gave the Governor absolute powers as the head of the Bank and also the head of the Board. This is an anomaly and it gives room for abuse of power and also against the tenets of corporate governance.
There is no doubt the 10th National Assembly has its job well cut out. In this regard, they are to settle down and make laws for the good of the people and put their names on the sands of time.
Saliu Olanrewaju Lah writes from the ancient city of Ilorin