The National Assembly is rightly referred to as the symbol of our democracy. This is so because it is the only arm of government usually sacked whenever the military takes over, hence, the absence of the legislative arm is tantamount to the absence of democracy.
Since the inception of our current democratic experiment, the National Assembly has progressively pushed for its independence from the executive arm. The 8th National Assembly has taken the quest for independence to another level through the emergence of its leadership and its activities since inauguration. The 8th National Assembly has also been throwing its weight about in its oversight function over the Executive that you are sometimes tempted to think the National Assembly is the official opposition party. The 8th National Assembly should be given kudos for trying to keep the executive in check. By most of its braggado, we now know things that have in the past been shrouded in secrecy. The question that needs urgent answer is: Who will check the National Assembly?
The 8th National Assembly has always taken Nigerians for granted while threatening the Executive with impeachment whenever there is a disagreement between the two arms. It should be recall how the Senate is always locked down whenever the Senate President appears at the Code of Conduct Tribunal to answer to a personal case on false declaration of asset. This was only stopped due to cry by Nigerians on why a national institution should be turned in an armor to fight a personal battle. The threats from the Senate as a result of this case and the drama witnessed during the passage of 2016 appropriation bill is still fresh in our memory. Should a national institution be turned to a personal estate? Are the senators elected to defend an individual or to serve Nigerians? If the Senate or anybody believe any individual is wrongly accused, the case should be presented in court but not at the expense of legislating for better Nigeria.
The most recent threat issued by Senate to the executive bothers on the issue of Senate rule forgery. The Senate through its spokes person insinuated that the Presidency is trying to jail the principal officers of the National Assembly. The question the Senate fail to address is whether there was forgery of the rule book as alleged or not. The spokesperson of the Senate agreed that they were just Senators elect before they were sworn- in and that the rule for the inauguration is suppose to be as handed over by the 7th Senate. Many principal officers of the 7th Senate have public declared that the rule book used for the inauguration of the 8th Senate was not the same as that used by the 7th Senate and there was no amendment during the 7th Senate. If the rules were changed between the end of the tenure of the 7th and the inauguration of the 8th Senate, who changed it? Shouldn’t the forgery be investigated? Why should such investigation be interpreted as the Presidency trying to remove the leadership of the Senate? Why should the Senate always threatened the Presidency as if the impeachment clause in the constitution was inserted to settle scores? The fact that a case is investigated does not translate to a declaration of guilt. Nobody should be above the law. The Senate as the principal law making body should not be seen to be breaking the law to satisfy personal whim.
Another affront on the psyche of Nigerians is the recent proposal of immunity and life pension for the principal officers of the National Assembly during the recently held constitution review retreat. What an impunity! Why should the members of National Assembly want a life pension and immunity when Nigerians are clamoring for the removal of immunity from the executive arm ? This is an affront on the psyche of longsuffering Nigerians. We watch with awe as they bought exotic cars for themselves despite the economic meltdown. They receive jumbo pay for being on recess for a longer period that they are at work. They spent valuable time in debating bills that further their interests while the interest of the common man is neglected. Now they want to be paid for life from our common patrimony and to be protected from prosecution if they commit any criminal offence. I don’t believe our distinguished Senators and Honorable Members will say this. It must have been a misrepresentation of what was proposed.
The local and international news has been awash in the past few days with the news of sexual scandal allegedly perpetrated by three honorable members of the House of Representative in USA during an international conference. I am not insinuating that the honorable members are guilty, but it’s saner to resign your position if accused of such grievous act. This is not only about the accused honorable members, it’s about the institution and by extension about Nigeria. The alleged act puts a dent on the image of every Nigerian and should be seen as such. It will however be asking for too much from an ordinary member of the National Assembly to be honorable enough to resign based on such allegation, if the head of the same institution have cases of corruption hanging on his neck and still have the audacity not only to preside over the affairs of the National Assembly but to set up committees to investigate corruption cases.
The national assembly as constituted presently is not and cannot legislate for the good of Nigerians. An assembly of people desperate to hold onto the old order cannot midwife the new Nigeria. Who then will safe Nigeria from our legislators? The answer probably is in the power of the electorate to recall erring legislators. The power lies with the masses to check the National Assembly, if we fail, the country of our dream may continue to be a mirage.