Welcoming The Ninth National Assembly
THE Parliament, like the two other arms, is an indispensable branch of government. It is expected to legislate for law and order and pass the Appropriation Bill to ensure good governance. Its oversight function is to ensure effective management of men and resources in compliance with best global practices. The eight past Assemblies were criticized for not doing enough in the discharge of their constitutional functions and for deploying more resources to their personal comfort to the detriment of citizens’ welfare.
BUT the eighth Assembly, more than its predecessors, was considered to be more self- centered, allocating to itself so much salaries and allowances in different forms and quantum it was lawless and shameless in providing immunity for suspected criminal members and for investing so much energy into combating the Executive and the Judicature under the guise of checks and balances.
INSTEAD of instructing suspected legislators to answer invitations by the police to clear themselves or go to defend themselves in criminal charges, members of the National Assembly organised solidarity rallies to disrupt court processes and turn court appearances to fashion shows.
THE eighth Assembly prided itself in passing more bills than its predecessors, forgetting to add that over 40 of such bills were denied presidential assent. It was to the shame of the last Assembly that amendment to the electoral law was undertaken to bog down the electoral process rather than to ameliorate it.
THE confusion that the eighth Assembly represented was orchestrated at its inauguration, where certain unpatriotic individuals disregarded party directives and elected principal officers contrary to legislative conventions.
It is to the credit of this 9th National Assembly that it took-off in a grand style, electing legislators from the party with the majority into principal offices. Assembly members must reinforce this enviable style by participating robustly in party activities with a view to building required synergy from within. Again legislators must devise a means to carry their constituents along in the discharge of their onerous assignment.
THE majority party in the Assembly has a responsibility to make a difference by adopting an ideological framework that would provide a basis for understanding, assessing and predicting its performance and direction. By so doing, this Assembly would also give shape to partisan politics. The new leadership should encourage evolution of a legislative culture in which lobbying, bargaining and horse-trading must interplay with the objective of consensus building at all times. While party supremacy must be paramount, merit must enjoy a pride of place in constituting committees for example. Leadership must endeavour to rally majority support to make life more abundant for the people.
AS a priority, security of lives and property should attract urgent but quality attention of the Parliament, which should adopt a multi-dimensional legislation encompassing agriculture, immigration, water, transportation and epidemiology. Simultaneously, restructuring the Nigerian state to compact, fiscally feasible units would enormously enrich capacity for defense, power generation, transmission and distribution. This will offer relief to the Federal Government in the area of policing.
THE economy is crying for expert attention, hence the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) should be addressed immediately to open up business, commerce, technology and industrial activities in general. Taking congnisance of advancement in technology and desperate prospecting for alternative energy sources, there should be a comprehensive, up-to -date, workable legislation to open up what remains of opportunities in the petroleum sector.
THE 9th Assembly must not only collaborate with the Executive to ignite national potentials in agriculture, it must shift policy direction from further enriching powerful, unpatriotic politicians and bureaucrats that have always ensured policy summersault. In collaboration with state Assembles, and for the agriculture sector, grants, technical and other support must be provided in a transparent manner to ensure that the farmer is the end- recipient of the provisions.
THE 9th National Assembly has come at a most trying period in national development. Coincidentally, Nigerians are agreed that things must be done differently and properly. The ability of this Assembly to communicate its readiness to invest in good governance and less in self- centeredness would enlist for it popular support.
THE principle of checks and balances would hold when it is taken as different from combativeness and unnecessary power tussles. Interfacing with the Executive and the ruling party would engender understanding, minimize misrepresentation and facilitate professionalism.
WE of The Hope rejoice with members of the National Assembly on their electoral victory. We congratulate the All Progressives Congress on a peaceful and orderly take-off of the 9th National Assembly. We celebrate with the Federal Government in the take-off of this new administration in a cordial atmosphere. We are well-informed of the challenges of the moment but then, if the war against corruption is prosecuted by all arms of government without fear or favour, and the pursuit of the greatest good of the greatest number is evident, the government would rally the support of majority of its citizens to surmount the task before it.
WE wish the 9th National Assembly an effective, productive and rewarding tenure. God bless Nigeria.