By Mukhtar Sani Yusuf
The general election has come and gone. Nigerians are now focused on the National Assembly politics as jostling for the positions of presiding and principal officers of the incoming 10th National Assembly has begun. While the tenure of the outgoing 9th National Assembly expires on June 11, the next Assembly will be inaugurated on June 13, and expectation from the citizenry vested in the members of the incoming assembly is so high, going by their diverse backgrounds.
The outgoing assembly is seen as a rubber-stamp legislative body and criticised by many Nigerians that the two hallowed chambers are underperformed National Assembly that ever happened to the country.
Many Nigerians see the tenure of the current assembly as unproductive that the two chambers spent the whole four years at the beck and call of the executive arm well-nigh by succumbing to everything brought before them by the executive arm with little or no protest. Some people even believe that in this 9th National Assembly, the purpose of the principle of separation of power and checks and balances characterised by constitutional democracy has been defeated and jettisoned.
Notwithstanding, from the official results released by INEC on the newly elected and re-elected members of the Senate and House of Representatives, one may begin to be optimistic with the rainbow composition of the incoming National Assembly that this time around, the business might not be as usual.
Among other reasons that rekindle the hope of Nigerians about the upcoming Assembly is that it’s the most diverse National Assembly with eight political parties representation since 1999. Although some seats in the Senate and House of Representatives were not decided during the February 25 National Assembly elections and remain vacant due to the supplementary elections expected to be conducted on them, in the Senate, the ruling party APC has 57 seats, PDP occupied 29 seats, Labour Party got 6 seats, SDP and NNPP won 2 seats each, then APGA and YPP gained 1 seat each. In the House of Representatives, APC occupied 162 seats, PDP secured 102 seats, Labour Party garnered 34 seats, NNPP 18, APGA 4, ADC and SDP got 2 seats each, and lastly, YPP got 1 seat.
The ruling party APC has majority seats in the Red and Green Chambers. However, the breakdown shows that it doesn’t get the simple 2/3 majority where its wish must prevail. This is enough opportunity for the opposition parties to form a formidable group that will checkmate the excesses of the ruling party to improve the performance of the executive arm. Even though the executive arm can’t perform its duties without the cooperation of the legislative arm, nevertheless, we expect the opposition parties to be constructive while challenging the executive arm or the ruling party.
Democracy will not grow without opposition. We don’t want a situation where our representatives become rubber stamps; they’re our voices and represent our interests. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has empowered them with three core responsibilities, i.e. law-making, representation, and oversight function.
Therefore, the doctrine of trias politica or separation of power, which help to limit any one arm from exercising the core function of another and prevent concentration of unchecked power by providing check and balances, is of no use if the legislative arm reduces itself to mere stooge of the executive arm. We hope to see changes this time around.
Mukhtar Sani Yusuf wrote from Kano and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leave a Reply