Nigerians have admonished the 9th National Assembly to be truly independent so as to be able to perform its oversight functions effectively.
This is followed by the perception of the National Assembly being a rubber stamp to the executive of government.
Representatives of critical stakeholders in the polity like the civil society organisations, pressure groups, religious bodies and journalists made the submission at a one-day group focused discussions on citizens’ expectations from the 9th National Assembly held at the temporary site of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, NILDS, Abuja.
The discussions, declared open by the Director General of NILDS, Professor Abubakar Sulaiman, was moderated by Professor Siyan Peter who stood in for Professor Attahiru Jega, chairman of the committee set up by the Institute in October last year assessment of Nigerians expectations from the 9th National Assembly.
Specifically, the chairman of Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, University of Abuja Chapter, Dr. Kassim Umar, cautioned the leadership of the 9th National Assembly on ‘the same page relationship’ it is running with the executive arm of government since the three arms of government in a presidential democracy , are meant to serve as check on one another.
“Harmonious working relationship among the three arms of government and in particular, between the Legislature and the Executive in a presidential democracy like Nigeria is a welcome development but taking it to the realm of subservience by being on the page with the executive on all issues, is dangerous for good governance,” he said.
In his own contribution, Barrister Daramola Bade who represented who represented the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Abuja Chapter, said for the 9th National Assembly to be taken seriously by Nigerians, far reaching constitution amendments that will make Nigeria, a development-driven federation and not an over centralized one , should be carried out by it.
“Approving all proposals forwarded by the executive without coming up with robust legislation that will transform the country for good, will make its public perception to be more of a rubber stamp than an autonomous arm of government,” he said.
The representative of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, Mallam Akande Abubakar said once the federal lawmakers allow the fear of God to prevail in all their legislative activities, Nigeria and Nigerians will be better off and the problem of negative public perception on them will no longer be an issue.
Ernest Ereke of the Centre for Legislative Engagement however insisted that as long as the National Assembly continues fraternising with the issue of constituency projects, so long shall its image be low before Nigerians.
According to him, since the issue is not constitutional, it will continue to smear the image of members of the National Assembly whether they are directly involved in the execution of the projects or not , moreso, when President Buhari declared last year that over a trillion Naira have been cash backed for such projects within the last ten years without anything to show for it.
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