NewsReel 22/5/15: Challenges Of Legislative Intellectualism Before The Eight National Assembly Of Nigeria - Concluding Part

[ Masterweb Reports: Intersociety reports ] - (Legislative Accountability, Onitsha Nigeria, 20th May 2015)-Summation: This part (three) concludes the extensively researched appraisal of the parliamentary stewardship of the outgoing Seventh National Assembly of Nigeria. The appraisal was extended to the State Houses of Assembly for the purpose of setting the records straight and putting in public domain and consciousness of Nigerians the fundamental standard of measuring the modern public lawmaking functions in Nigeria. In the course of the referenced extensive research by ours ( International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law- Intersociety), it was indisputably established that parliamentary quackery and mercantilism have steadily remained the bane of the lawmaking processes in Nigeria since the arrival of the Fourth Republic National Assembly (1999-2003).

 

Through parliamentary quackery, status quo or lazy lawmaking became the order of the day and characterized the National Assembly of Nigeria. Legislative intellectualism was nowhere to be seen. This resulted to abandonment of numerous laws of the Federation needing attention and begging to be upgraded or repealed including archaic provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999. Several legislative items that ought to be legislated into law including numerous treaties and conventions were left abandoned. Through parliamentary mercantilism, the lawmaking processes in Nigeria became grossly commercialized and compromised. Most, if not all public interest legislative items and issues, which are usually inducement and bribery free, were abandoned or relegated for subsidiary legislative functions like legislative probes, constituency projects, budgetary legislation, etc, which took precedence over the former. The State Houses of Assembly, within the referenced period became and still remain the appendages of the State Executive Councils. The five main bribery induced areas that have dominated the legislative businesses of the State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria till date are budget defense/passage, approval of commissioners/office appointments, consideration of executive borrowings, approval of security votes and legislative probes.

 

Fundamental Challenges Before The Eight Republic National Assembly: It remains an indisputable fact that Nigeria as a multi cultural democratic country can never make any meaningful progress unless its present politico-legal system is surgically operated and re-arranged. The present system under reference created and bequeathed to the country by the Fourth Republic National Assembly (1999-2003) is anti democratic and enemy of development. A politico-legal system that promotes primordialism and signs away 80% of the country’s commonwealth into the pockets of a ruling political class of 17,500 citizens who constitute only 0.010% of the country’s 170 million people; urgently requires radical re-visitation and re-distribution; else Nigeria will chronically continue to crawl in its all socio-political ramifications. For Nigeria to face realities of modern time and wriggle itself of present socio-political doldrums there must be radical re-distribution of the country’s commonwealth so as to aggregate and congregate enough funds for the general and optimum development of the country. To do this, the country’s fiscal laws and policies particularly on wage allowances and government overheads in all its arms and tiers of government must be cut down by 50% across board.



 

Radical Review Of Allowances & Overheads: Our study into the present state of public workers’ salaries and pensions of the pensioners in Nigeria clearly shows that workers’ salaries and pensioners’ pensions are not responsible for the present situation whereby government and governance are totally premised on recurrent and overheads criminal governance. The Eight Republic National Assembly of Nigeria and their States counterparts must also repeal all existing Special Life Pension Laws and Schemes for all categories of executive and legislative public office holders both at the Federal and States level. The most criminal part of the official misapplication and misappropriation of public funds called “security votes and service-wide votes” and their likes must be cut down by 60% across board in the case of the President and the Governors and total abolition in the case of other top public office holders including the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Reps and Speakers of the State Houses of Assembly; likewise drastic downward review of their overheads. Allocation of a whopping sum of N231 billion ($1.15 billion) to the so called “service-wide votes” in the 2015 federal budget; for instance, is a height of presidential criminality. This is more so when only N557 billion ($2.75 billion) was allocated to the capital expenditures in 2015, while an alarming sum of N2.6 trillion ($10.3 billion) was allocated to recurrent expenditures.

 

The allowances component of the personnel costs as well as the overheads component of the recurrent expenditures is fully responsible for paucity of funds for capital development in Nigeria. And if nothing radical is done to reverse the dangerous trend, then Nigeria will chronically remain empty and nothing in terms of real growth and development. Our study also shows clearly that if the above referenced overheads including security votes as well as public allowances are reviewed downwards, over N1 trillion ($5 billion) will be saved yearly from Federal, States and LGAs and channeled into capital expenditures for the development of Nigeria and Nigerians. For instance, a 50% cut in the N550.8 billion ($2.75 billion) spent yearly in the allowances of the country’s 11,788 Local Government officials automatically saves and recovers N275 billion ($1.37 billion) for Nigerians. Another major task before the incoming Federal and States legislatures in Nigeria lies on the need to quarantine public loans/borrowings particularly from local sources. If the borrowings must be granted, then they must be for productive use including job creation and government revenue yielding. As a matter of fact, there is need for a national moratorium on public borrowings in Nigeria.

 

Archaic Constitutional & Statutory Provisions/Policies: In addition to the foregoing, the Eight Republic National Assembly must review the country’s state of 33 solid mineral deposits as well as the continuous power epilepsy in the country for the purpose of their mechanization or industrialization. This can be done by the referenced Federal legislatures by re-visiting the country’s trade and investment policies and laws including the Land Use Act, industrial, environmental, import and export laws. The privatization of power in the country must be reviewed and possibly revoked.

 

On the age-long ethno-religious violence afflicting the country, the Eight Republic National Assembly must re-visit Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution for the purpose of re-phrasing it to literally suit the country’s secular and multi-religious status. Promotion and encouragement of any form of State religion must be prohibited and criminalized. The right to the freedom of religion in Section 38 of the Chapter Four of the Constitution must be strengthened. In the case of existing socio-religious criminal laws<

 
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