Parliament of a country is the repository of the sovereign will of the people, and its successful functioning is a responsibility of individuals elected to represent their constituents. Ordinarily, these responsibilities transcend culture of personal emolument, gains or mere sitting in the hallow chamber in the name of being a senator of the Federal Republic. Parliaments are expected to be active and alive to the plight of the citizenry. The assessment of the 7th Senate under the leadership of Senator David Mark exposed the ineffectiveness of the law making process in the country.
According to the Senate, between 2011 and 2015, it passed 123 bills into laws out of 591 bills presented representing 21% of the total bills introduced in the upper chamber for the period under review. 46 of these bills were passed within 10 minutes of the last sitting in the chamber; amounting approximately to 37% of total bills passed for the period of four years. By implication, the total bills passed for the 3 years and 11 months were 77.
Despite the poor performance, the taxpayers bear the larger chunk of their expenses. The budgetary allocation for the National Assembly stood at an average of 150 billion naira annually during the 7th Senate term; this implies that in the 4 years, we expended 600 billion naira to make 123 laws. Therefore, every single bill passed by the Senate cost about 5 billion naira each with the emolument 50 times higher than the country’s GDP per capital where several million of citizens live on less than 400 naira per day.
It is suggested that most of these bills passed at the eleventh hour could not undergo the required legislative processes. Since they appeared to be lazy and indolent in their commitment on the issue of national interest, Nigerians should consider their investment on these overrated lawmakers as waste. With this abysmal performance, they successfully held the executive down from moving on and serve no benefit for those that voted for them.
When an assembly of lawmakers make frivolities the basis for law making, dissipating their energy and time on issues like National Assembly Commission’s budget and homosexuality bills at the expense of life impacting bills like Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Act Bill, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission Bill, the Local Refineries Licensing Bill, Dichotomy and Discrimination Between First Degree and Higher Diploma in the same profession (Prohibition) Bill, e.t.c that will open up the sector for better competition and unbundling for easy administration.
To collaborate this position, Bukola Saraki, a serving senator was quick to urge the Senate to be realistic in telling themselves the truth that they have missed the cut on the level of effectiveness, most especially in regards to amending laws that impact on the revenues and expenditures of the state, budget reforms, infrastructure financing and deployment, accountability instruments and agency laws.
It is obvious we had an ineffective, overpaid and underperforming law making institution in Nigeria. So Walter Bagehot was right when he described lawmakers as nothing less than a big meeting of more or less idle people. For the new Senate to excel and truly serve the teeming electorate by complementing the executive arm of the government that really pose to salvage Nigeria from its sorry case, they must deal with torpidity, inertness, skiving and languidness among themselves. It is with these that the country will hope to see laws made for the peace, order and good government of the federation.
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