WITH the results released so far by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the February 25 National Assembly elections, the composition of Nigeria’s federal legislature is taking shape. The electoral body has declared winners for 423 national assembly seats while supplementary elections were to be held in 46 constituencies. According to the INEC Chairman, Yakubu Mahmood, 98 out of 109 Senate seats have been declared while 325 out of 360 seats in the House of Representatives have been decided. With this, the current National Assembly has suffered about 70% attrition rate, with just about 30% of the current National Assembly members returning as no state succeeded in returning 100% of its members.The10th National Assembly is to be inaugurated by the new president early June 2023.
BREAKDOWN of party representation in the Senate further reveals that the All Progressives Congress (APC) garners 57 seats while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has 28 and Labour Party (LP) has six.Other parties that won seats in the upper chamber include the Social Democratic party (SDP) and the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) with two seats each; Young Progressives Party (YPP,) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) have one seat each. The APC also dominates the House of Representatives with 162 seats while PDP and LP control102 and 34 seats respectively. The NNPP has 18 seats; African Democratic Congress (ADC) and SDP have two seats each while the YPP has one seat.
GOING by this record, parties and critical stakeholders have begun high-wire politicking as to how the leadership of both chambers of the National Assembly will emerge. Given the experience of the 8th Assembly where a member of the ruling party hijacked leadership of the legislature in defiance to the party arrangement, we believe that the President-elect and the leadership of APC have taken appropriate steps in looking at how the principal officers of the 10th Assembly will evolve. This has become necessary based on the current composition of the Assembly especially the House of Representatives where the opposition, if properly organised, can run away with the leadership given their numbers.
IDEALLY, no political party will be indifferent as to how the legislature is run. The APC must therefore take necessary precautions to ensure that it enjoys cordial relationship with members of the National Assembly if the party wants bills that support its programmes and policies to sail through smoothly. Party supremacy should be upheld. However, the ruling party should not sacrifice competence and integrity for political considerations.
IN the same vein, the President-elect cannot afford to be indifferent as to how the leadership of the assembly evolves. This is without prejudice to the doctrine of separation of powers in a presidential system. This is because both the executive and the legislature have to work together for the common good of the society. The president-elect should therefore ensure that only reliable, responsible and trusted party members are elected as principal officers of the 10th Assembly. We want a vibrant Assembly that will not necessarily be a rubber stamp to the executive but an Assembly that will ensure proper checks and balances.
THE PRESIDENT-ELECT, not taking chances, has met with the legislators elected on the platform of the APC. We commend his decision to hold the meeting. As a reputable politician, we believe he will bring his vast experience to bear on the consultations aimed at producing the principal officers of the National Assembly. This is because allowing anybody to take over the leadership of the Assembly under any guise without respect for party structure will not augur well for the next government.
Members of the National Assembly on their part should put the interest of the country above that of their personal, sections and tribes. To this end, they should be open to ideas on how to prune down the cost of governance and channel resources to national development in view of the economic meltdown and exacerbating foreign loans. Thus, they should agree to the reduction of their allowances and personal emoluments. This will make them stand shoulders high in their oversight functions on the executive and regain the confidence and trust of Nigerians which have more or less become non-existent.