By Innocent Anaba, Henry Ojelu & Onozure Dania
Dr Agbakoba, SAN
Restoring hope to a blighted people who are daily confronted with hunger disease, armed bandits, kidnappers, and no jobs.
The 9th National Assembly, NASS, must do everything possible to see that government’s key objective to protect lives and property is achieved and Nigerians can live in peace and harmony.
Then we can talk about the big issues of power, infrastructure, economy, restructuring etc., but for now, Nigerians need immediate succour.
I expect the 9th NASS to work in harmony and not acrimony with the executive for the common good and I urge them to all remember their lofty words on the campaign trail and to know that the people expect to receive their dividends of democracy now.
Prof. Ojukwu, SAN
The 9th National Assembly should pay early and very urgent attention to constitutional and legislative reforms, restructuring the country in terms of control of resources by the states and giving the states more responsibilities, establishing state police, reducing the workload of the Supreme Court, reviewing the Electoral Act, creating a radical Electoral Offences Commission Act that provides robust deterrence against election financing crimes, enacting a law against living and owning above ones means that places the burden of proof on the defendant, reviewing the Money Laundering Act, and establishing an independent National Orientation Agency.
Mr Babatunde, SAN
They should put party politics and affiliation aside in order to unite against and confront the myriad problems confronting our fledgling democracy especially grinding poverty, unemployment, corruption and palpable insecurity all over the land. They should guard their independence but have respect for other arms of government. They should work at strengthening and safeguarding the judiciary, because that is one of the safety nets of our democracy and bulwark of economic recovery and progress. If the judiciary comes to ruin under their watch, we will all pay dearly for such neglect, omission or indifference. Nigeria is now their overall and collective constituency. She deserves their love and commitment for the opportunity given them to serve.
With the inauguration, the 9th Assembly should constructively assert itself and rebuff attempts by the executive branch to erode its independence especially as it affects its oversight function. Secondly, it should urgently arrest the descent of Nigeria into Hobbesian state of nature where life is short, nasty and brutish as a result of the murderous and atrocious activities of herders, bandits, kidnappers, etc amidst executive branch’s reluctance or incompetence to secure lives and properties. Lastly, the Assembly should suo motu slash their salaries and allowances to reasonable level having regard to our laws and international best practices.
The 9th NASS must really walk the talk in terms of representation, law-making, oversight and constructive engagement. The lawmakers really must focus on the next generation and engrave their names in letters of gold.
The lawmakers must walk the talk as nation-builders. My expectations are as follows: 1.List of cabinet ministers must be speedily processed and approved strictly on merit. 2.They should partner and collaborate with other arms of government, namely: executive and judiciary in a manner devoid of confrontations and needless grandstanding. Executive bills and proposals must be addressed strictly on merit. 3.Emphasis should be on indicators of good governance with focus on growth and development. 4.The security and welfare of the people should be the primary purpose of governance. The 9th NASS must prioritise security of our people and arrest the drift to anarchy in our country.
The major preoccupation of the 9th Assembly should be a concentration on human rights and the administration of justice. It is common knowledge that human rights enforcement in Nigeria is a joke. Even the courts and our judges do not consider human rights as deserving of priority treatment. Three areas must be tackled: 1. Endorsement of human rights must be removed from the sole jurisdiction of high courts. This constitutional aberration has been a death point for many human rights cases. The constitution must be amended to confer jurisdiction to enforce human rights on all categories of courts.
- The requirement for the consent of Attorneys-General of states or of the federation before enforcing money judgments against government, must be removed. It is an anachronism whose time has expired.
- Refusal to obey court judgments must be made an impeachable offence.
The leadership of the Senate must bear this in mind that Nigeria is in deep crisis both in human and capital resources. The unemployment of her citizens, the infrastructure collapse, insecurity and a host of others, are tough issues they must deal with.
The 9th Senate must not be distracted by the toga of political leaning. Legislative function demands total service to the constituent units and not party.
The 9th Assembly must first redirect itself to that basic and forthright constitutional objective of oversight function especially as it relates to the recovery of the economy. They should remember even in the euphoria of victory that the victory of the citizenry – of the masses, is the most important and frontline achievement of governance, so that agenda must be pursued vigorously to rescue the country from outright collapse.
With the set of politicians elected to lead the 9th National Assembly who are more than one term in the Assembly, Nigerians expect them to do the needful in terms of amendment of archaic laws in the country. They should ensure that budget is passed as and when due, they should distinguish themselves from the 8th National Assembly, who were hostile to Nigerians and the country at large. The 9th Assembly should not be involved in any form of budget padding and/or manipulation. They should give Nigeria good image in the international community rather than disgrace. They should not turn themselves to money launders. They should have in mind that they are there today but tomorrow they may not be there. They should know that the Assembly is not their father’s house. They should leave a legacy that will project their good names rather than hatred. Wishing them best of luck.
They should hit the ground running irrespective of party affiliation, the interest of the country should dictate to them, especially the never- ending Petroleum Industry Bill since the 7th Assembly. The issue of state police to address the prevailing security threat ravaging the whole country, should be tackled with urgent constitutional amendment. Lastly, there should be a robust relationship with other arms of government especially the executive, so that the issue of yearly budget delay will be over.
I think their major preoccupation should be making laws that will be of great benefit to Nigerians, quality representation and also to ensure speedy passage of budget and other bills brought before them. Their loyalty should be to their constituencies and Nigeria as a whole and not to anybody or political party.
The issue of jumbo pay and many unspecified allowances should be looked into by the members, because if they really want to serve the people, they cannot be receiving millions in salary and other allowances while the minimum wage is N30,000 and workers are still being owed salaries for months.
They should not act as rubber stamp for the executive arm of government but an independent and important part of the government whose functions include checks and balances for proper separation of powers.
With the commencement of the 9th Assembly, it is expected that they must hit the ground ruining. And this, they must do with promptitude.
The era of window dressing is over. It’s either they are performing as expected or they are only an extension of the plundering of the wealth. The era of milking the tax payers should be over, it is time to ensure the enactment of economic policies to revive and improve the lot of the long suffering masses.
The 9th Senate should look at the bills that were rejected, dust them up, amend were necessary and ensure their passage. They must be ready to work out bills that should revive everything wrong with our polity. We all cannot afford to fail. The leadership and indeed, the members of the 9th Assembly must as a matter of urgency, roll up their sleeves and go to work.
What I consider should be their pre-occupation now is to liaise with the executive to see to the end of the insecurity that has ravaged the entire country to the extent that the Governor of Ondo State stated recently that there was an attempt to kidnap him. This is unprecedented in the history of this nation. Nigerian citizens can no longer walk freely in their own country because of the activities of kidnappers and bandits. The other issue is to ensure that their outrageous salaries and allowances are reduced. Lastly, is the fact that all members must work together in the interest of the nation at large, regardless of party affiliation. The era of executive and legislative rift should be jettisoned at least in the interest of the larger populace. Budget should be passed as soon as possible rather than mudslinging witnessed in the 8th Assembly.