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Of Governance And Clamour For Unicameral NASS

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Although the heavy cost of maintaining Nigeria’s 469 federal lawmakers has always been a source of concern, “sitting politicians’’ have joined in the campaign for the reduction of the number of federal legislators.
In fact, one of the converts even suggested the scrapping of the Senate, as according to him, it is the House of Representatives that represents.
The converts: Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti; Sen. Rochas Okorocha, former governor of Imo and Chief Osita Chidoka, former Minister of Aviation, made their suggestions at different fora.
Chidoka who advocates for a unicameral legislature, made the suggestion after President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2020 budget.
“In Nigeria, we need a unicameral legislature with six members each from the 36 states and two members from FCT.
“The legislature with 218 members will be less than 50 per cent of current members and term limit of three terms.
“The 2020 budget for the National Assembly (NASS) is N125bn, higher than the combined budget of Education N48 billion (excluding UBEC and TETFUND), Health N46 billion and Social Investment N30 billion.
“Reducing National Assembly members by half will provide over N60 billion annually for the social sector, that will be 600 billion over 10 years.”
Chidoka said the new National Assembly would be both efficient and economical.
He described the budget of N125 billion for the National Assembly as “hugely extravagant,” in an economy adjudged to have over 100 million poor people with gross infrastructure deficit.
The former Minister of Aviation said that funds saved from the contraction would be available for investment on policies and projects that would serve the common interest of the greater number of the population.
On his part, Fayemi advocated for the scrapping of the Senate in order to save cost and reduce financial burden on the government.
He also advocated for the adoption of Stephen Orosaye’s report which recommended the merging of federal government’s agencies that perform similar functions.
Fayemi said the type of legislative system that would be more productive for Nigeria in this current economic situation is a unicameral legislature.
“As it stands, the country’s legislative arm consisting of 109 Senate members and a 360-member House of Representatives, on yearly basis gulps millions of Naira.
“We do need to look at the size of government in Nigeria, and I am an advocate for a unicameral legislature.
“What we really need is the House of Representatives because that is what represents.
“You have three senators from little Ekiti and you have three senators from Lagos State, I guess the principle is not proportionality, but that if you are a state, you get it automatically.
“But I think that we can do away with that. There are several things that we can do away within the government,” he said.
Okorocha, the immediate past governor of Imo, now the Senator representing Imo West, on his part called for the reduction in the number of federal lawmakers representing a state.
He suggested that a Senator and three members of House of Representatives should represent each state.
“I want one senator and three House of Representatives members per state, which will cut expenses.
“A Senator and three House of Representatives members can do what many have been doing.’’
He said that the reduction in the number of representatives from the states would help cut cost and ensure effective representation.
While advocating for ways to cut cost and ensure effective representation, Okorocha said he would sponsor a bill that would seek for the reduction of the number of Senators and House of Representatives members for each state.
The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), has endorsed the suggestions for the reduction of the number of federal lawmakers.
The CNPP via a statement from its Secretary-General, Willy Ezugwu, said Okorocha spoke the truth concerning the need to reduce cost of running the National Assembly.
“The former governor simply told Nigerians the truth when he said what three Senators from a state can do; one lawmaker is capable of handling the same.
“Like Sen. Okorocha asked, what is too sacrosanct that Senators and House of Representatives members are doing that only a Senator per state can not do?’’
Also, two professors of political science at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Jonah Onuoha and Aloysius Okolie, agreed with the advocates for unicameral legislature, which they reiterated would reduce the cost of governance.
Onuoha, who is the Head,  Department of Political Science, said bicameral legislative system is not cost effective, especially in a country like Nigeria, where federal lawmakers receive bogus salaries and allowances.
“It takes huge amount of money to maintain bicameral legislative system, especially in a country like Nigeria where federal lawmakers receive bogus salaries and allowances monthly.
“Bicameral legislative system is not only costly but delays legislative processes of passing bill into law, since the bill will pass through the two chambers.’’
Onuoha, who is also the Director of American Studies in UNN, urged the country to adopt unicameral legislative system as it is cost effective.
“If the country settles for unicameral, the extra money it could have spent in paying salaries, allowances and maintaining the two  chambers which runs into billions can be used to carry out capital projects,” he said.
He said if the country insisted on running bicameral legislative system, the number of lawmakers should be reduced.
Okolie in his contribution said that it was as result of bicameral legislative system that every year the budgetary allocation to the National Assembly had remained the highest.
“I subscribe to opinions in some quarters that the country should adopt unicameral legislative system as it will reduce the cost of running government as well as quicken legislative processes.
“The country is spending much to pay salaries, allowances and maintaining the two chambers — 109 Senators and 360-members of House of Representatives,’’ he said.
Okolie, former Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities, UNN branch, also said that as part of measures to reduce cost of running the government, the country should return to the regional structure.
“If we have one federal parliament and one regional parliament in each of the six geo-political zones, it will go a long way in cutting down cost of running the government,” Okolie said.
However, a legal practitioner, Mr Dele Igbinedion, said that people should not clamour for unicameral legislature just for cutting cost, adding that the issue is not whether or not a bicameral legislature is good or bad.
“I believe the bicameral system should remain because it has been proven to be sustainable and necessary. The process of law making is a very serious business which cannot start and end within a short time.
“The problem with the unicameral system which we have at the state level is that a bill can be introduced and passed the same day and sent to the governor for assent.
“This is not the case in the National Assembly; the two chambers must meet and possibly form a joint committee to look at the bill before sending it for presidential assent.
“The rigorous process a piece of legislation has to pass through forms part of the beauty of democracy.
“I think Nigerians should stop looking at the legislature each time there is a slight challenge and asking if we really need that arm of government.
“The judiciary often doesn’t respond to executive excesses, except there is a case it initiates, but in the legislature, a member can raise it as a matter of urgent public importance, national importance or ethics and privileges, and the attention of the parliament can be brought to it.’’
Apparently, Igbinedion was surmising that many state assemblies have become rubber stamps because the governors could easily “conquer’’ them, because it is only a single chamber.
Stakeholders say that unicameral and bicameral legislature have their advantages, but the country should settle for an option that cuts costs and wastages.
Ukoh writes for News Agency of Nigeria(NAN).

 

Obike Ukoh

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Edo PDP Decries Obaseki’s Poor Performance

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The Edo State Chapter of the PDP has again descended on Governor. Godwin Obaseki, describing his tenure as a hardship phase for the people.
Addressing a news conference on Wednesday in Benin, the Chairman of the PDP in the state, Chief Dan Orbih, said that Obaseki had failed to offer leadership to make the people enjoy the dividends of democracy.
According to Orbih, the governor should face governance and stay out of the endless crisis rocking the state’s chapter of the APC.
Orbih, who has been a vocal critic of Obaseki’s style of governance, said his advice was imperative because the crisis in the APC had become a distraction for the governor, preventing him from offering meaningful governance.
He lamented that Obaseki’s three-year tenure had only brought agony and deprivation to the populace, denying them the benefits expected from democracy.
The PDP chieftain also advised Obaseki to desist from the “yearly jamboree” of inviting people for talks in the name of marking anniversary but to channel resources to tackling problems.
“It is obvious that the APC has nothing to offer to the people of Edo State. As at today, Edo State is the only state where only a few elected members of the State Assembly are sitting.
“More so, the governor has not delivered on the 200,000 jobs he promised youths in Edo State.
“Our roads are begging for attention. There is worsening insecurity, in spite of the huge amount of security vote he withdraws monthly.
“He should, henceforth, commence the support of security agencies in the state for efficiency and if he cannot, he should stop withdrawing or collecting security votes.
Orbih also decried the inability of the government to pay bursaries and grant scholarships to Edo students in various institutions of learning, lamenting the dilapidation of various schools in the state.
According to him, the least the government can do for the youths is to employ more teachers to tackle the dearth of teachers in the state.
“The APC promised better days for Edo State and more than 11 years after the people have nothing to show for the promise.
“Edo people should remain resolute and committed in effecting a change in government come 2020.
Orbih also condemned the state government’s clampdown on civil society groups for demanding accountability to determine the status of infrastructure in the state.
“The governor owes it a duty to account for every action of his in the state.”
On the defection of Mr Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the PDP’s flag-bearer in the 2016 gubernatorial elections to the APC, Orbih said that Ize-Iyamu was yet to inform the PDP of his decision, noting however, that the PDP in the state was intact, stronger, more united and bolder.
He disclosed that the party had concluded plans for mass mobilisation of voters, ahead of Edo 2020.
According to him, Edo PDP knows how to manage itself, and in 2020, we will do the needful because we want a party that can manage crisis.

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Kogi Poll: Court Hears Suit Challenging Bello’s Eligibility, Today

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A suit challenging the eligibility of Yahaya Bello, Governor of Kogi State to contest the November. 16 governorship election in the state will be heard today, Friday, at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The originating summons, which is instituted by Natasha Akpoti, the Social Democratic Party (SDP)’s governorship candidate in the forthcoming poll, will be mentioned at Court 5 before Justice Inyang Ekwo.
The Tidereports that while SDP candidate is the plaintiff, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are1st and 2nd defendants respectively.
The suit, dated October. 10 and marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1221/2019, filed by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, on Akpoti’s behalf, sought the court’s determination on the eligibility of Governor Bello in the Saturday election, having allegedly been involved in double registration as a voter.
Akpoti said “that by his wilful act of making double registration as a voter, Yahaya Bello, candidate of the 1st defendant is not a fit and proper person to be allowed by the 2nd defendant to vote or be voted for in the forthcoming Kogi State governorship election, having committed an act of electoral fraud.
“That Mr. Yahaya Bello, the candidate of the 1st Defendant.,was initially registered as a voter sometime in 2011 in Abuja, by the 2nd defendant.
“That Bello. the candidate of the 1st defendant again fraudulently procured from the 2nd defendant. a second registration as a voter on 23rd May,. 2017, at Government House. Lokoja, while his 2011 first registration as a voter in Abuja was still live, extant and subsisting.
“That the said Yahaya Bello, the candidate of the 1st defendant carried out the double registration with the 2nd defendant so as to scuttle due electoral process.
“That such a person is not a fit and proper person to be voted for in any election, let alone for the high office of the governor of a state.”
Recall that Justice Ekwo had, on Tuesday, delivered judgment, disqualifying the APC Deputy Governorship Candidate in Bayelsa, Sen.

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Udom’s Victory, Justice Directed By Law

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The Peoples Democratic Party, Akwa Ibom State chapter, has described the victory of Governor Udom Emmanuel at the Appeal Court in Calabar as justice directed by law and not through federal might or political colouration.
The Publicity Secretary of PDP in the state, Ini Ememobong said this in a reaction to the ruling of the Appeal Court on Wednesday which upheld the verdict of the Governorship election petition tribunal.
In a statement, Ememobong said, “the judgement of the Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar on the Appeal filed against the verdict of the Governorship election petition tribunal by the All Progressives Congress and her Governorship candidate, Obong Nsima Ekere, delivered today has again aligned with reality by confirming the sanctity of the ballot.”
“ In the well-considered judgement, the noble Lords of the penultimate court, held that the Appeal was lacking in merit, agreeing with the tribunal that the APC did not lend credible evidence to prove their case and that they had dumped documents in the panel without linking them, as required by law.
“By this judgment, the judiciary has again shown that justice is directed by law and not federal might, partisan colouration or other extra-legal dispositions. To this, we are deeply grateful to the court and wholeheartedly welcome the judgement.”
The Publicity Secretary, however, renewed the call for partnership with the opposition APC, in the execution of Akwa Ibom Project.
He noted, “We acknowledge the zeal and emotional investments committed to the Governorship quest by Obong Nsima Ekere, an illustrious Akwa Ibom son, who rose to the exalted office of Deputy Governor through the instrumentality of our party. He has fought the fight, ran the race, but the results are not in his favour. We urge him to avoid the temptation of escalation of commitment and rather view the Akwa Ibom project as the cynosure and act in the benefit of the larger interest of the people.
“We commend Akwa Ibom people who have continually stood firm with our party, through their votes. Our legal team for diligent and excellent representation. The legal department of our Party led by the State Legal Adviser, Goddy Umoh Esq has shown great dedication in the pursuit of this case deserves commendation. God Almighty deserves our praise for His mercies and protection throughout the elections period.”

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