Politics

One 12 months after, tenth N’Assembly nonetheless taking part in ‘rubber stamp’ to govt

Ahead of the tenth National Assembly resumption of legislative proceedings on July 2, IMOLEAYO OYEDEYI examines how the federal legislature has carried out in a single 12 months given its constitutional tasks and legislative agenda

The tenth National Assembly is at present in recess. The Assembly was inaugurated on June 13, 2023, with Senator Godswill Akpabio and Abbas Tajudeen rising because the Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives respectively after weeks of energy play, horse-trading, alignments, and realignments.

While presiding over a plenary session on the ground of the Red Chamber on Tuesday, June 11, 2024, Akpabio stated the tenth National Assembly would resume legislative proceedings on Tuesday, July 2, 2024, after a month recess.

He stated the recess was to allow the lawmakers to take part within the actions marking the 2024 Democracy Day and the Senate’s end-of-session break.

Recall that in his inaugural speech upon his assumption of workplace in June, final 12 months, Senator Akpabio had stated the Senate below his watch would formulate legal guidelines for the wellbeing of all Nigerians and supply environment friendly oversight capabilities to the manager arm of the federal government.

He stated within the discharge of its authorized duties, the Senate would align with President BolaTinubu’s imaginative and prescient of fostering enviable developments of the nation.

“Today marks a historic moment as we embark on a new chapter in the Senate. Distinguished Senators, today, I stand before you humbled, honoured, and filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and responsibility as I acknowledge and accept your call to serve as the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Akpabio said.

Speaking additional, he stated, “It is time now to go forward with the task set before us as a collective body – the promulgation of laws and enactments for the well-being and security of the country and as a check on the executive arm of the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in our oversight functions. Together, we shall reach and surpass the expectations of the Nigerian people regarding us and our roles in building a better, safer, more inclusive, prosperous, efficient, and ethical country.”

“I’m happy, as I’m positive that you just too are, that we have now in His Excellency Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, a President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who’s dedicated to a powerful economic system, nationwide safety, inclusion and the rule of regulation.

“We should, therefore, anticipate an executive that is pro-active, progressive, and practical. Our laws must, therefore, align with the vision of Mr President to protect and provide for our people at the innermost core of their essence while our actions must also guarantee the best and most efficient use of our national commonwealth. Government is a continuum, and the Senate is no less so,” the Senate President said.

He added, “In all issues of nationwide curiosity, we’re enjoined to do not forget that we’re before everything, distinguished senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, earlier than our roles as representatives and members of our political events.

“There is every reason to support good policies and programmes of the Federal Government, and I call on you to put this national interest first at all times. Our Senate will be a Senate for all of Nigeria. Together, we shall be greater than the sum of our political parties.”

Also talking shortly after the tenth National Assembly was inaugurated, the Speaker, Tajudeen, stated the legislative agenda of the Assembly would handle the yearnings of Nigerians.

Speaking at a stakeholders’ assembly organised by the House’ Ad Hoc Committee on Legislative Agenda in Abuja on Monday, July 24, 2023, the Speaker stated the parliament was able to welcome residents’ participation within the efforts in the direction of addressing the challenges going through the nation.

He stated, “Our need is to have a legislative agenda that meets the yearnings and aspirations of residents and with which they’d use as a benchmark to judge and assess our efficiency after 4 years. Therefore, right now’s assembly shouldn’t be seen as the same old talk-shop. Consider it a essential nationwide project.

“There is no better way to show that the 10th House of Representatives is ready to respond, and urgently too, to the yearnings of those who brought us to the people’s House to do the people’s business,” he famous.

Under his management, Tajudeen stated, “The House would pay priority attention to participatory budgeting process and delivery, law reform, electoral reform, women’s participation and inclusion in governance, improved socio-economic conditions, entrepreneurship, employment, health and education, infrastructure, citizens-focused diplomacy, institutional capacity and citizens engagement, constitutional amendment and restructuring, among others.”

However,  since Thursday, June 13, 2024, when the federal legislature clocked a 12 months in workplace, observers have been eager to evaluate how far it has gone in fulfilling its constitutional obligations by way of offering efficient laws, promulgating people-centred payments, exercising its well-enshrined authorized independence and providing govt oversights, amongst others.

While some analysts have stated the Akpabio-led tenth National Assembly hasn’t carried out creditably effectively, particularly given the truth that it has untowardly exhibited a few of the defects that eroded the credibility of previous legislative assemblies within the nation, together with being submissive to the dictates of the President, different observers really feel a 12 months will not be sufficient to begin measuring how far a legislative meeting has gone in discharging its authorized tasks for the teeming lots.

Those of the latter college of thought argued that regardless of the corrupt-mindedness of the Nigerian political class, the present lopsided federal system and over-centralised constitutional framework being operational within the nation would at all times make the clime very ungovernable and antithetical to developments for any set of leaders irrespective of how strong-willed they could be.

Meanwhile, the Senate not too long ago stated that in a single 12 months, its members had launched about 477 payments whereas 25 of them had been handed.

The Senate chief, Opeyemi Bamidele, who disclosed this in a press release final Thursday in commemoration of the primary anniversary of the tenth National Assembly, stated the legislature through the years had targeted on addressing different basic nationwide priorities as mandated by the structure.

Bamidele stated, “Since its inauguration on June 13, 2023, the 10th Senate has introduced 477 bills. Of these, 25 have been fully enacted into law, while others are at various stages of the legislative process.”

The Senate chief added, “Despite the seemingly low share of totally handed payments — 5.24 per cent — the Senate’s focus has additionally been on addressing different basic nationwide priorities as mandated by the structure.

“In addition to legislative activities, the Senate has passed 115 resolutions of significant consequence to economic development and national stability. These resolutions stemmed from motions of national importance, sponsored by various senators after thorough consideration.”

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The Senate chief, nonetheless, stated that payments weren’t the one means to evaluate legislators. He stated, “Many individuals might measure our efficiency primarily based on the variety of payments that had been totally handed into regulation. Different causes account for the low variety of totally enacted legislations. This may be ascribed primarily to different problems with extremely basic nationwide precedence that occupied the eye of the Senate.

“Put differently, it is purely due to the imperatives of attending to other obligations as required by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.”

The Senate chief additionally famous that within the final three hundred and sixty six days, the Senate had been strategically collaborating with key public establishments, “especially the executive arm, to defend our core interest as a federation; ensure macroeconomic stability; promote internal cohesion as well as foster unity among ethnic nationalities that constitute our dear nation.”

He added, “Like by no means earlier than, we have now been totally dedicated to this nationwide project to place our nation not only for extra notable regional and sub-regional roles, but in addition for world management.

“Driven by this bold nationwide aspiration convincingly scribbled in our revised legislative agenda, the Senate has adopted a strategic partnership method geared toward constructing resilient synergy with different arms of presidency and nurturing a aggressive, purposeful, and viable federation that works for all.

“Evident in all our parliamentary engagements, this has been our preoccupation since the inauguration of the 10th Senate as the foremost institution of representative democracy.”

Aside from the continuing assessment of the 1999 Constitution, the Senate stated it initiated various processes with a transparent and well-defined mandate.

The Senate chief famous, “From our observations thus far, we’re assured Nigeria is now extra steady and the way forward for our Nation appears extra promising than at any time in our latest historical past.

“As people of collective purpose, however, we are under obligations to support our governments, whether at the national or sub-national level, to build a resilient economy and an equitable federation that supports the aspiration of all its constituents.”

Aside from the promulgation of payments, Sunday PUNCH gathered that the Senate had additionally been lively in addressing public considerations, having efficiently resolved 50 public petitions within the final 12 months.

During the identical interval, it additionally screened and confirmed 215 nominees for numerous political places of work, together with appointments to the Federal Executive Council, Central Bank of Nigeria, and management positions within the Armed Forces, Police, and different key companies.

Despite the self-accolade the federal lawmakers have continued to pour on themselves, Nigerians is not going to overlook in a rush how the legislators received costly Sport Utility Vehicles which had been put at N160m every. While the nation condemned the acquisition of such costly automobiles, the lawmakers acquired the presents with out blinking regardless of the financial hardship many had been going through within the nation.

Speaking to Sunday PUNCH, President of the National Political Scientists of Nigeria, Professor Hassan Saliu, of the University of Ilorin, stated the lawmakers had carried out averagely effectively, though they nonetheless wanted to do extra in addressing the prevailing hardship within the nation by efficient laws.

He stated, “Based on what is going on in the country, one can know whether the 10th National Assembly has been performing its role well or not because the prevailing hardship in the country also requires legislative inputs. But are we getting those inputs? We all know that things are a little bit difficult in Nigeria. But I wouldn’t like to blame any particular government. I would rather prefer to blame the entire country for being negligent over the years. If we had been very alert to the issues and our responsibilities collectively, possibly the drivers that had driven us to this point would not have succeeded. We should blame ourselves for not being too vigilant over the years.”

Commenting on govt oversight capabilities anticipated of the legislative meeting, Prof Saliu stated, “There are two or three models of legislative and executive relations. One is cooperative; the second is to be antagonistic, and the last one is to be moderate. But looking at it critically, in a legislature where you have its majority members coming from the ruling political party, those not from the ruling party will be more concerned about their welfare. Certainly, the picture will not be as clear as people would have wanted it to be. So, what I am saying is Akpabio has tried, but based on the facts on the ground, there is still more work for the Senate under him to do in solving the myriad of problems confronting Nigeria.”

He stated in Nigeria, “We are sometimes fast responsible our leaders, however generally, we don’t have a look at the surroundings. When you have got members of the political class or political elite having nearly the identical orientation, what do you anticipate to get from them? I used to be granted an interview in 2022 the place I stated that no matter whoever received the 2023 election, not a lot will change in Nigeria as a result of the construction on the bottom doesn’t promote growth. Rather, it retards it. So, assessing the efficiency of the present National Assembly ought to be primarily based on the fact on the bottom.

“I believe that not until there is a progressive consensus among the masses, we may be moving around the same spot for long. This is because, from both sides of the masses and the lawmakers, we all need to reexamine our value system. After all, things are not working in Nigeria and we all must work collectively to change the status quo,” he added.

However, a public curiosity lawyer and human rights activist, Inibehe Effiong, stated the present National Assembly had not carried out positively by way of combating for the lots and defending their pursuits in opposition to a number of insufferable insurance policies that the present administration has launched in a single 12 months.

He said, “The interests of the Nigerian people have not been prioritised. The focus so far has been personal aggrandisement and promoting a culture that appeases the President. The National Assembly members are acting as if they are Halleluyah boys of President Tinubu, as it is whatever he wants that they do. They don’t have a say. That is bad because we have not seen any attempt at checks and balances from the Assembly in the last year. I have not seen any significant investigation by these current National Assembly, either as a committee on a whole or an ad hoc committee.”

The lawyer famous that like what had been witnessed below the earlier legislative assemblies, “the culture of budget padding is still going on, which is an embarrassment and very unfortunate,” and that the present legislature has not exercised its independence in any method.

“Oversight as I said has been very terrible. In terms of the passage of laws, I have not seen any largely major bill that the current Assembly has passed. No fundamental legislative reform has been undertaken. It is only to change the national anthem, and I think that is what they also see as an achievement. But I don’t know how the national anthem will affect the suffering that the Nigerian people are going through. I don’t know how the anthem will affect banditry and insecurity. So, for me, I will score the National Assembly below average,” he said.

“I’m not impressed by each the Senate and House of Representatives. They have carried out poorly. They haven’t exercised their independence in any method. They have solely satisfied Nigerians that they are going to proceed to stay stooges of the President. That’s why the President can do no matter he desires to do.

“He can obtain whatever loans he wants. He can introduce all sorts of obnoxious policies from the hike in electricity tariffs to the removal of fuel subsidy. For all the policies, we have not seen the National Assembly take a different position in favour of the Nigerian people. So, why should anybody commend them? There is nothing commendable about this National Assembly,” he added.

However, because the socio-economic challenges choking the nation worsen each day, the query working by the minds of many Nigerians is the right way to get out of the quagmire. But solely time will inform how far the poor lots can endure the pains earlier than turning the warmth on the 469 lawmakers they elected to symbolize them on the tenth legislative meeting.

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