By Tony Edike
ENUGUâ€”Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu explained weekend,Â that Senatorsâ€™ demand for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to ensure continuityÂ in the Senate was not a call for automatic ticket for members of the upper House, but aÂ move to copyÂ the best practices in the world.
He said that the Senators were misrepresented on the issue, which if given consideration, would reduce cost and enhance quality legislation at the apex legislative chamber.
Speaking with reporters in Enugu, Ekweremadu said that with the growth and progress so far recorded by the Nigerian Senate,Â time was now ripe to look into such measures, insisting that the call was not out place, as most civilized countries like Canada even appoint Senators for life.Â He said that prolonged tenure for the Senators would ensure continued development and stability of the country.
He said, â€œin America where we drew the bulk of the provisions of our constitution, you donâ€™t just change parliamentarians.
You donâ€™t change parliamentarians all the time because a lot is spent on training these people. And when you send people to seminars, trainings, workshops and they sit in parliament from year to year and at the end of the day, they donâ€™t return, those monies are wasted.
â€œSo, we are saying that as much as possible and as much as our system can accommodate, that we reverse this trend. A situation where about 80 per cent of our Senators donâ€™t return is not healthy for our system. If we can turn it the other way and say, let 20 per cent not return, let 80 per cent return, I think that is the path of growth.â€
Senator Ekweremadu, who is the Chairman of the National Assembly Joint Committee on Constitutional Review, said, â€œwhen making the 1999 constitution, our leaders thought it wise to say in parliament, there is no term limit, you contest and win and then come back to parliament as manyÂ times as you can. I think they were not stupid because they knew the implication.
They knew how much is invested in training these people. They knew the need to have parliamentarians stayÂ longer in parliament because it creates what is called institutionalÂ memory because being a Senator for 20 years or 30 years, you would have seen Presidents come and go. So, if an issue arises in the country that requires institutional memory, you have to fall back to such people,Â that is whatÂ our mates have in mind.â€