By Abdulwasi’i Ilyas.
Leadership void and the shoddy utilization of a precious Year.
An upper chamber that is grossly unable to justify the expenditure of tax payer’s money on its activities and existence . A senate more enmeshed in the battle for financial enrichment of its members through juicy committee appointments more than it’s preoccupation with its primary oversight functions of ensuring smooth running of government’s business.
A full legislative year has passed. The hallowed red chamber spent a chunk of its time funded by our common wealth accompanying its president either to appear at the Code of Conduct tribunal answering corruption charges of false declaration of assets or at an Abuja High court for allegations of conspiracy and forgery of the senate standing orders 2015, upon which he cruised, albeit bumpily to the senate presidency.
All these to our detriments. Nations worldwide compete to outpace one another in development and to assume lofty heights towering above their counterparts in the delivery of good governance to its citizens. That’s what public servants are elected for, not brazen stockpiling of personal fortune as it obtains in our space.
Bukola Saraki, the senate president, has a large allotment of his mental space snatched by thoughts of his court and tribunal cases and appearances leaving minuscule bits for senate and government business. This did not in any way preclude the parliamentarians from buying cars worth N36million, besides, they had earlier collected car loans. All in the face of dwindling oil prices and a global economic downturn. These crops of parliamentarians are apparently shielded from the brunt of these phenomena since they are not owed salaries like the 27 states out of the 36 unable to meet salary obligations.
So much depends on the legislature to facilitate expeditious delivery of democratic goods. The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is according to Ibe kachikwu, Minister of state for petroleum, costing the nation $15billion yearly, due to the lack of its passage. A law that bars individual investors from plying it out in the railway industry is still in place in the face of government’s inability to fully run that sector. A revoke of that law by the national assembly will engender development of the railway industry thereby improving speedy delivery of goods around the country. These are a few of the numerous areas that ought to have engage the wits of the legislators and occupy the apex of their list of preoccupations.
In the face of the above, both houses of the National assembly were quick to celebrate their achievements in the one year of its inauguration. Achievements merely expressed in the number of bills passed without a commensurate impact on the already battered economy.
Here comes the faces of Democracy
The events that predates Saraki’s assumption of the senate presidency and those that trailed were not bereft of intrigues and power calculations. His party the APC preferred Ahmed lawan . He pulled a fast one on the party and forged an alliance with the main opposition party to emerge as the Senate president. To fulfill the terms of his alliance with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) he relinquished chairmanship of so-called juicy committees to its members and to those of his party senators loyal to him, dubbed the ‘Like minds’ headed by Senator Dino Melaye. That again was another attempt by Saraki at flouting party conventions and it angered the party in no small measure.
it is not certain whether Saraki hold president Buhari and the executive in high esteem or in base contempt going by his posture lately. He had the guts (not wits though) to allege that Buhari is acting stooge to some higher authority that have hijacked the government and using it as a tool to, according to him, chastise him and Senate for his loyalty to the ethos of democracies. He should tell that to toddlers not grown adults.
His deputy Ike Ekweramadu with whom he is jointly charged of forgery went as far as writing to the international community to petition that a war against democracy and attempts to silence the opposition is being orchestrated by the federal government through trumped up charges against Senior parliamentarians. I am yet to come to terms with how Saraki who has been associated with one allegation or the other become the epitome of democracy. We are talking about a medical doctor who oversaw the running aground of a Bank, who brazenly manipulated his way into the senate presidency and is accused of falsification of assets declaration documents and of forgery.
The senator’s have vowed to respond in like terms to the trumpet of war being sounded by the Federal Government by withdrawing its supposed support of the executive, as if we care a hoot. They appear to be out of tune with the primary duty for which they are being paid.
Do we have need for such a gargantuan parliament?
The courts will adjudicate on the innocence or otherwise of those charged. In the same way and manner ministries were pruned for efficiency, it is high time we all begin to spearhead the idea of streamlining our National assembly. We will expect senators to spend ample time on their various committees’ assignments working out progress maps for developmental efforts not filing out in large numbers to drum support for Mr. Saraki squandering precious legislative time in the process. That trickles down to generate bastion for the viewpoint that there is no task in the national assembly that cannot be done on a part time basis. Savings from the pruning efforts can then be reinvested into key economic developmental areas.