Monday, 11 May 2015

The Nigeria Eight National Assembly by Ayorinsola Obisanya

In some weeks to come, the Seventh National Assembly shall be seeing the end of its existence but may never be in oblivion for recording a distasteful drama. Thus, the emergence of the Eight National Assembly for the country is necessary. It is apposite that in effect to Section 4(1) of the 1999 Constitution, the National Assembly is vested the legislative powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Without doubt, one will agree that this empowers the legislative arm to turn bills into laws. 
The Seventh National Assembly was known for its list of numerous bills. Up till date, some of these bills are nothing closer to metamorphose into laws. It is disturbing that a bill in Nigeria might take four years to be deliberated upon before its passage. Yet, some won’t ever see the green light of passage into law. In a proper legislation setting, time shouldn’t be wasted on a particular bill, knowing fully well that there are others awaiting deliberation. A bill is either accepted or rejected. Yet, this is not implicitly or explicitly stating that the legislative process should be rushed. Else, the intent of the people will never be achieved.

With the #Change tide around, it is expected of the Eight Assembly not to elongate the process of bills passage. There is no gain in dragging the process of lawmaking. The nation is in dire need of new laws, amendment of some and excluding some repugnant ones. It will be a welcome development if some bills are passed within the first hundred days. After all, legislative work in Nigeria is not a part-time job.

One of the bills that should top the priority list should be the Petroleum Industry Bill (PBI). Up till now, it is inexplicable while the Seventh National Assembly desired to be slow on this issue. ‘The bill seeks to make oil and gas operation more efficient, transparent and accountable to the Nigeria people. Also, to liberalise the management and control of the oil and gas sector and thereby bring in more investments, and improve fiscal regime and resources to the Federation Account for sharing by the three tiers of government.’ ‘Another bill is the Fly Nigeria Bill which will make it mandatory for public officers to use Nigerian airlines in trips funded by the treasury unless there is no Nigerian airline flying to the destination.’

The alteration of the 1999 Constitution is not debatable. Nigeria really needs a constitution that indicates the wish of and working for ‘WE THE PEOPLE..’ Apart from the fact that the Seventh National Assembly tried in concluding to separate the office of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, it also provided for the appointment of the Accountant-General of the Federation in order to enhance transparency and accountability in the management of the Federation Account. However, there is need to make the economic, social and cultural rights as provided in chapter two of the constitution more than a mere declaration. Especially, the right of a child to enjoy basic education and health services. Its non-justiciability gives the government the comfort of failure and go undisturbed. The primary purpose of governance and government is the security and welfare of the people. Also, autonomy for local government for the development of the grassroots. This is long overdue. Many local governments in Nigeria are suffering in the hands of oppressive state governments.

Since the Seventh National Assembly is known for its accustomed ‘take a bow’ routine of screening ministerial nominees, the Eight National Assembly need to stop this. It is evident that the routine cost the nation a lot by appointing scandalous and corrupt men who busied themselves on how to milk the nation’s account dry or were never concerned on the progress of Nigeria. Seriously, there should be more to the ‘take a bow’ exercise which normally, is a sign of respect. Ministerial nominees should be subjected to rigorous screening. Though, the major problem is the failure to separate party affairs from national assignments. The lawmakers of the next National Assembly should visit the past of nominees, question the present and picture the future. Rejecting nominees is apt. Let the President know that the Constitution recognises separation of powers. Handle your house and let me handle mine. Yet, collaboration is imperative in the incoming administration considering the difficult position of Nigeria’s economy and financial status. This will also enable the arms of government to provide solution to national challenges.

Be distinct by not saying ‘Aye’ every time since your party is at the helms of affairs and not ‘Nay’ because you are so unlucky to be in the opposition. Hence, trying every possible means to make the government fruitless. Nigerians are fed up with lawmakers that only appear to mark attendance, sleep or make nonsensical display like the Sixth and Seventh National Assembly. Lawmakers are not miscreants. People chose you because you are fit for the job.

The Eight National Assembly should be prepared to tackle corruption and work towards achieving a better economy.

And I hope we don’t have to witness another scaling of gates, House chaos that includes excessive beatings and the smuggling of the maze, making it to go into oblivion for the time being.

God bless Nigeria.

Ayorinsola Obisanya, FAB.

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