THE 9th session of Nigeria’s National Assembly was inaugurated on Tuesday by the clerk of the Assembly, Mr. Sani Mohammed Omolori with 107 Senators instead of the 109 that make up the upper legislative chamber sworn in.
In the House of Representatives, 360 members were present during the inauguration and swearing in of the members of the lower legislative house. The short fall in the number of the members of the red chamber was as a result of unresolved issues in Imo West and North Senatorial Districts, although that of Imo West was later resolved and former Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha was given his Certificate of Return by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
THE elections produced all the anointed candidates of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC). While Mohammed Ahmed Lawan, representing Yobe North Senatorial District became the president of the 9th Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege from Delta Central Senatorial District, emerged as the new Deputy Senate President. Ahmed Lawan,
who failed on his two previous attempts assumed the leadership of the 9th Senate. He defeated Ali Ndume representing Borno South Senatorial District of Borno State while Omo-Agege beat the Deputy President of the 8th Senate, Ike Ekweremadu of the PDP to emerge as the new Deputy Senate President of the 9th Senate.
IN THE Green Chamber, it was a straight fight between Femi Gbajabiamila and Mohammed Umaru Bago, all of the APC. Gbajabiamila, who incidentally was the candidate of the ruling party and the presidency won by 283 to 76 votes. The most intriguing aspect of the elections in the House of Representatives was the election of Ahmed Idris Wase of APC from Plateau State as the Deputy Speaker without a fight. He was returned unopposed.
NOW that the battle for the leadership of the National Assembly is over, it is expected that the law makers will settle down for their legislative duties which is their primary assignment. Because the ruling APC won all the leadership positions in the two chambers,
it is expected that the federal government will stop the excuse that they could not meet the expectations of Nigerians during the last session of the National Assembly because of what they described as sabotage by the PDP dominated National Assembly leadership.
President Mohammed Buhari had always told whoever cares to listen that the PDP controlled National Assembly leadership frustrated all his efforts to carry out the programmes of his government, aimed at solving the myriads of problems confronting the country during his first term in office.
NIGERIANS are with high expectations this time that the president with the full compliment of his party’s controlled National Assembly will pull out the country from the economic and security challenges facing it presently, among other issues. Nigerians are not ready to accept any more excuses for the inability of the federal government to steer the ship of the nation’s progress to safety.
THE 8th Senate passed 312 Bills which is the highest Nigeria’s upper legislative chamber had achieved since inception of the present democratic dispensation.
The 109 Distinguished Senators and 360 Honourable Members must remember that law making is a serious business. They must also remember that the legislature is the pivot of democracy. Even during military dictatorship; there were the other arms of government, the Executive and Judiciary, what makes the difference in a democratic set up is the parliament or the legislature.
A RECENT review showed that there were some law makers in the two hallowed chambers who had no bills to their names after collecting huge sums of tax payers money for many years, some of them over 12 years. Constituents must ask their representatives questions about their contributions in the two chambers of the Assembly for national developments before considering them for fresh mandates.
THEY must hold them accountable for what they do with the huge sums of money given to them for constituency projects. A situation where representatives of the people pocket money meant for the development of their constituencies must stop during the life span of the present Assembly.
IT IS our firm belief that anti graft agencies have a big role to play here. Law makers who go against their briefs by enriching themselves illegally at the detriment of the citizenry must be made to pay for their acts, no matter their positions, religious, ethnic and party affiliations.
GOVERNMENTS, both at the federal and state levels must stop the practice of making the legislature their appendages. The Honourable members and Distinguished Senators must resist the temptation of being the rubber stamp of the executive.
The lure of money, otherwise, referred to as the ‘Ghana must go’ syndrome must give way to mutual respect and patriotic zeal to serve the people, having in mind that they are at such exalted positions at the mercy of the people.
WE BELIEVE that if the legislators at various levels of government should approach their duties with patriotism and seriousness, the executive arm would sit up and do away with impunity and fraudulent practices. The constitution gives them power to checkmate the executive through the provision for over sight functions, this they must carry out without fear of intimidation and favour to be able to merit the mandates given to them by Nigerians.
WE WISH to urge the Distinguished Senators to do everything within their powers and provisions of the law to put to a permanent end, the issue of budget padding which unfortunately, crept into the country’s political lexicon in recent time.
Also is the case of delay in implementing budget processes. It is an incontrovertible fact that an early preparation and passage of the budget will play a vital role in economic planning and execution of projects which is a landmark of a good government.
NIGERIANS expect nothing short of a legislature that is very committed to its constitutional duties and at the same time, maintains a good working and mutual relationship with the executive.
THE Distinguished Senators and House of Representative members of the 9th National Assembly must prove to Nigerians that they have learnt a lot of lessons from the mistakes of the past 20 years of democratic rule in the country and have found a lasting way of correcting them. Anything to the contrary may not be acceptable to Nigerians.