NASS, Dogara, Jibrin And Part-Time Legislature | Independent Newspapers Limited
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NASS, Dogara, Jibrin And Part-Time Legislature

Streetnomics; Edo Polls; rice selling
Posted: Aug 18, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Kingsley Ighomenghian

 General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) is a newsmaker and reporters’ delight any day, no matter the subject matter. You can be sure he would always make front page, no matter the subject matter.

And so when on Tuesday he spoke on the need for a part-time legislature for Nigeria, one of his series of experiments as military President in the days of “I will not stay in office a day longer than necessary” which began on August 27, 1985 and lasted until 1993 when he “stepped aside” in the aftermath of the unrest that followed his annulment of the June 12, 1993, it was news immediately. Not because of the subject necessarily, but coming from a personality as the man fondly called IBB.

One can never stop making reference to the June 12, 1993 election, perhaps the freest and fairest election ever held in Nigeria’s history, when prime consideration was not given to factors like Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba; Christian, Muslim or Atheist. Nigerians simply queued behind someone they believed could take them from the land of hopelessness to that of hope. It remains the only one in which Chief Moshood Abiola, a Muslim Yoruba, ran on the same ticket for the Presidency of Nigeria along with Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, his fellow Muslim Hausa and still won in Igbo land and the Niger-Delta creeks.

Try it today and hell will let loose. That tells a lot about how low we have sunk in Nigeria and where mutual suspicion has led us in our religious and ethnic life. That is however topic for another day. Gen. Babangida at a press briefing to mark his 75th birthday in Minna, Niger State, on Tuesday recalled how in 1989 he proposed a part-time National Assembly, which he still believes in. If for nothing else, he noted, it is one way of reducing the high cost of governing Nigeria.

In recent weeks, there had been a raging debate about whether Nigeria should adopt full or part-time National Assembly and different reasons had been adduced and I recall that in my July 28 piece on this space entitled, “NASS, Dogara, Jibrin And 110 Million Poor Nigerians,” I concluded thus:

There is need at this time to once more prove that power belongs to the people by compelling NASS to allow for probe of its finances. I think we should be considering a part-time legislature as once proposed.

At the risk of sounding like a broken gong on this matter, it is very clear that members of NASS who have been at war with themselves are not fighting because they want to turn around the misfortune of millions of Nigeria who daily slide lower into the poverty mire without hope of finding help soon.

It is simply because there is inequity in the sharing formula, and after spending the entire tenure on “Any-Other-Business,” they will pass 200 bills on their last day in office and we all clap for their ingenuity.

As reward for service to fatherland, our Distinguished Senators and Honourables approve for themselves life pension, which, in any case, they already receive as retired military generals, ex-deputy/governors besides other pecks of office they currently enjoy. God dey! If for no other reason, the ongoing feud in NASS and the fact that these legislators still do their private business anyway, even as full-time lawmakers, which is one other reason to call for part-time legislators.

As a result of the Dogara-Jibrin feud, we now know that our otherwise very busy Speaker Dogara owns a mechanised farm somewhere in Nasarawa State. Don’t ask who told me.

Even Jibrin had in part of his 70 tweets on Tuesday, where he gave snippets of his soon-to-be released memoires wrote about setting up a company, “Green Forest Group Limited, and how much work we put in to grow the company,” and a job he “did for the Nasarawa State government and how I took a decision never to do government contract again” after an encounter with the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

There was nothing to suggest that he no longer ran the company, or whether he did so by proxy. I do not claim to know exactly whether the law prohibits lawmakers at the state or centre from the board of companies, while they are full-time legislators today. But I recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in the days of Chief Joseph Sanusi, had reasons to bar federal legislators from the board of the nation’s banks.

The legislators at the time were found to be intimidating and even blackmailing officials of the apex bank on otherwise sensitive issues.

Besides, the lawmakers only seat between Tuesday and Thursday of the week, when they are not on recess as they most often are. Although they are arguing that when they are not sitting, they are engaged in one committee work or the other, oversight travels or interfacing with their constituents.

All said, it is indeed a shame that in Nigeria, public servants do not have the culture of stepping down from their prime positions if only to allow for untainted investigations, otherwise, the Dogaras would have stepped aside to clear their names, but what do we see? Dogara, while not denying the allegations levelled against him, is bullying Nigerians with: “I should know, after all, I am a lawyer… there is nothing like padding… budget padding is not an offence… (Reminds me of corruption is not stealing…).

Last Line: For me, let us go back to the Parliamentary system, because the Federal Government’s operation is equally very bogus, away with everything that keeps more Nigerians below the poverty line… We can even fashion our own governance pattern and call it our own name jare.