One thing that is becoming very outstanding in Nigerian politics is the issue of insatiable lust for money which normally in sane societies will cost some people their jobs in elective offices.
If we take a look at the recent ignoble law passed by the Bayelsa State House of Assembly proposing life pension for members of the House or those who have been legislators since the creation of the state, the move does not only send a cold shiver down the spine but shows that there is sheer greed and accumulated grievances against the working class in the society.
How come that a group of legislators who probably have served for only four or eight years will arrogate to themselves the powers to fix pension for themselves without clearly thinking of the consequence. Are they also implying that those who served as commissioners and special advisers should also have life pensions in the scheme of things?
However, it was a cheering news that the state Governor, Seriake Dickson refused to assent to such a self-serving and anti-people bill. The request for such a law was not only nauseating but leaves a very bad odour in the political atmosphere in the country because, if that law had been signed into law, then, trust Nigerians with their copy-cat approach to issues of individual interest, other legislative assemblies nationwide would have started passing such laws. And even councillors at the local government level will have no alternative than to pass such laws too, making themselves and council chairmen to enjoy similar financial benefits.
When the 1999 Constitution was promulgated into law, it was only the office of the President and Vice President that were covered under this law but sadly, the first set of governors from 1999 to 2003 set a bad example by arm-twisting their legislative houses to pass favourable pension laws for them, and this is the genesis of what we are seeing today.
A House of Assembly is supposed to be a hallowed chamber where people-oriented laws are supposed to be made and it is also a place where problems that affect the people or even an individual can be addressed but today what we are experiencing is that it is a place to address only members’ welfare.
The legislators should note that their office is an elective one, they did not write a letter of application for the job and they don’t have any promotion examination to go to the next grade level. In short, they don’t have a retirement age limit but can re-contest for elections as they deem fit.
Please, someone should tell them that politics should not be left to jobless people or the idle minds but to those who have work experience and have something to do to earn a living before venturing into politics. If this notion of life pension…God forbid comes to stay in Nigeria with such huge sums of money approved, what signal then are we sending to the rest of Nigerians, … every Tom, Dick and Harry that is jobless and without any work experience will struggle either by hook or crook to venture into politics with the aim of contesting for the legislative assembly.
In the First and Second Republics, all the members of the legislative assembly including council chairmen and councillors were not lazy people but had well paid jobs before venturing into politics. The likes of Dr. Nwafor Orizu, the then President of the Senate, Rt. Hon Rosebury Briggs, Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly in the Second Republic was a successful lawyer in private practice for many years before he entered the murky waters of partisan politics.
All these people and their colleagues at no time advocated for free and easy money from government to take care of their youthful and productive age. If we take a careful look at the age bracket of members of most state houses of assembly, we will hardly see anyone that is above 60 years of age which is an indication that those who want to benefit from this largese are people mostly in either their 30s or 40s … what a tragedy.
Again, a cursory look at the productivity level of some members shows that they have not contributed anything meaningful by either initiating bills or intellectually debating issues affecting the state or their constituencies and sometimes even on television, we see some legislators dozing or sleeping while debates on serious matters affecting the society are going on, yet they want pension for life.
For democracy to grow, we need to elect into office people of substance, people with integrity, individuals who by their pedigree have something to offer society in the area of quality law making and selfless service that is worthy of emulation.
Why is it that when we as Nigerians borrow good ideas from foreign climes, our domestication of such ideas leaves a very bad example for future generations? If we say we are practising a presidential democracy modelled after the United States of America, what stops us from imitating the good sides of such democracy rather than making selfish laws that will only benefit us?
Even in America, legislative business cannot be compared to that of Nigeria. There, legislators pay house rent and do not live in staff quarters and are not chauffeured around in official cars but here in Nigeria, despite all the largese that is spread around such offices, they are still not satisfied but yearn for more. I think one of the solutions to such demands for life pension should be a review of the Constitution to make legislative duties part-time so as to make the offices less attractive to people who are not really cut out to serve the public.
It seems that the military interegnum between 1983 to 1999 really did a lot of damage to our psyche as a nation and that is why the quality of legislators the electorate have been sending to the houses of assembly especially in some states have been deteriorating every four years. The vibrancy and maturity we experienced between 1992 to 1993 and 1999 to 2003 are no longer there.
Our houses of assembly should sit up, look beyond members’ individual interest and learn once more to be honourable not just in name but also in their legislative duties. Nigeria or the various states are not an inexhaustible gold mine or crude oil field where free cash can be gotten to cushion the lavish lifestyle of an individual, what we need are people with ideas that can fashion out modalities of how to tackle the myriad of problems bedeviling our society like unemployment.
This is because if we keep quiet with the way things are going, our inactions will later turn to haunt us in future.
For rejecting that obnoxious bill on pension for legislators, the Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson has not only saved the people of the state from embarrassment but also people from other states from modern day financial recklessness.
‘Reps Passed 88 Bills In Two Years’
The House of Representatives has passed 88 bills out of 1407 bills in the past two years, its spokesperson, Benjamin Kalu (APC, Abia) has said.
The House clocked two years on June 11 and has two years left.
Mr Kalu had earlier released different data on the status of legislative activities. However, The Tide source is yet to independently verify this latest data.
Mr Kalu had claimed that the House considered 853 bills and 41 of them passed, in the previous statement.
According to the new statement released on Friday, a total of 554 bills were introduced between June 2020 and June 2021. It was a sharp decline considering that the House introduced 853 bills between June 2019 and June 2020.
Although the decline could be blamed on the outbreak of Covid-19.
“The accurate number of bills considered by the 9th House of Representatives as of June 10, 2021 is 1407 out of which the House has passed 88 bills.
“Additionally, the accurate number of motions considered by the 9th House of Representatives as of June 10, 2021, is 730 out of which the House has made 98 resolutions on security issues.”
The data released by the lawmaker shows that while the introduction of bills has been easy, the progression of bills has been very slow.
A total of 942 bills are awaiting second reading, only 327 bills have been referred to committees, and 79 are awaiting committee of the whole consideration.
Within the same period, 730 motions were considered by the House. However, out of the 663 referred to committees, only 40 reports have been laid, and only six have been considered by the House.
Legislative activities suffered a great deal in 2020 due to the breakout of Covid-19. The National Assembly was shut down for about two months between March 2020 and May 2020.
At a point, the plenary was reduced to once a week.
However, the lawmakers did not help the situation by embarking on holidays at the slightest opportunity, thereby missing deadlines on passage of key legislation.
Also, a review of the legislative agenda of the House by The Tide source shows that the lawmakers are far behind in fulfilling their agenda.
Accord To Contest In 12 LGAs
Accord Party plans to contest only in 12 local government councils and 37 local council development areas at the July 24 council polls in Lagos State.
Its Publicity Secretary, Dele Oladeji, told newsmen in Lagos, yesterday that the party chose to contest only in its areas of strength rather than dissipate energy across the state.
He said Accord Party would contest chairmanship and councillorship seats in Somolu, Mushin, Odi-Olowo, Igando-Ikotun, Agbado Okeodo, Agege, Alimosho, Apapa, Lagos Mainland, Ikorodu, Oshodi/Isolo, and Ifako-Ijaiye LGAs/LCDAs.
Oladeji said that the party had a good outing in these councils at the last council elections in 2017.
“We are set for the election and we are competing in our local governments of strength where we won in 2017.
“We are set to repeat the same feat and even win more than the eight councillorship seats we won in 2017 to become the only opposition party in the local government administration in Lagos State,’’ he said.
Oladeji said that the party was ready to go to court wherever its mandate was stolen as it did in 2017 local government elections.
“As against 2017 when we went to court only in few areas to get back our rigged mandate, this year, we will go to court in any number of local government areas where our mandate is perceived to have been stolen through rigging.
“As the only opposition party in the local government’s administration of Lagos State, we have retained the abiding hope of Lagos residents as the alternative party.”
Okorocha Cautions Igbos On Secession
The Senator representing Imo West, Rochas Okorocha, has cautioned the South-East against their agitations for Nigeria’s breakup.
Okorocha warned that Igbos would be the worst hit if Nigeria breaks up.
The former Imo State Governor spoke in Abuja while addressing some women groups yesterday.
Okorocha stressed that the South- East should push towards fixing the country and not its disintegration.
The lawmaker stressed that Igbos are nationalistic in nature, hence they should dismiss the urge for Nigeria’s disintegration.
He said: “It is only an Igbo man that goes to a place and remains put in that place, buys a land and builds a house for his family without feeling insecure. The Igbos will lose more if Nigeria divides.
“Most Nigerian leaders who were successful had one thing or the other to do with the Igbos. It is either they married Igbo women or had some links with them. I can call names like, former President, Obasanjo; former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Buba Marwa, just to name a few”.
South-East groups like the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereignty State of Biafra, MASSOB, have been agitating for the disintegration of Nigeria.
IPOB led by Nnamdi Kanu has been in the forefront, calling for Biafra’s actualisation.
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