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The Patriots And The Task Of Reinventing Parliamentary Democracy

Posted: May 25, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Edwin Uhara

IN propounding Separation of Power as a political philosophy, late French Philosopher, Baron de Montesquieu stated that for there to be checks and balances as well as accountability in governance; government powers should not be fussed or be concentrated on one arm or body, instead, he advocated that each of the three organs of government should be independent of one other. This is to say that the executive should not interfere with the functions of the legislature, while the legislature should not interfere with the functions of the judiciary. It was this idea that was incorporated into Presidential System of Government, which Nigeria practices today. But, sadly enough, the country has not being fair or faithful to the concept and principles of this political philosophy in the selection process of the principal officers of the National Assembly in times past.

The Assembly

The Assembly

However, with the successful conduct of this year’s general election, new political realities have emerged. As a result, new thinking and strategies are required to arrest some of the unfolding negative political tendencies, because, according Albert Einstein, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It is in accordance with this line of thought that change agents who are opposed to business-as-usual in governance and are determined to redefining the destiny of Nigeria have decided to come together under the auspices of ‘The Patriots’.

The Patriots is a bi-partisan assembly of both returning and newly elected House Members committed to a transparent and improved process of leadership selection in the Green Chamber. It is an organization that believes that the current change in the country is not enough until it is reflected in the well being of the people and in the democratic governance of the nation. Hence, there is the need for credible parliamentary democracy in the third organ of our government. To actualize this challenging but not insurmountable task, the group seeks to facilitate the emergence of a responsible and dynamic House leadership that is truly committed to the security and well being of Nigerians, encourage genuine fight against corruption, ensure political correctness and set exemplary leadership style so that others can copy or emulate.

Accordingly, it is also the believe of the group that, the 8th National Assembly must be able to strike structural balance of power in the House, ensure effective constituency representation, facilitate dynamic law-making process that will arrest any act of social disorder, promote efficient over-sighting of laws and policies, build an institution that provides full access to information about its internal systems and procedures to all constituents and stakeholders in conformity with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI).

Other tasks to achieve are; to birth the National Assembly that is sensitive and responsive to public needs and demands, to engender a legislative arm of government in which internal democracy is its strongest asset, to discharge the delicate and complimentary role of the executive arm of government without compromising the character of legislative independence, to reinvent a legislature that can be relied upon to initiate and enact legislation for regulating its conduct with a view to preserving the dignity and responsibility of its members.

It is however incumbent on all would-be members of the 8th National Assembly to produce leaders who have strategic problem solving and consensus-building abilities by themselves without the interference of the outsiders. Such a leader must have proven track records of integrity in governance and otherwise. He must be knowledgeable enough to command the respect and admiration of House Members. The person must be reliable and dependable at all times and in all matters; not only in cases that affect the members of the Green Chamber, but also in matters that concern the well being of all Nigerians irrespective political affiliation, religion, tribe and ideology.

Since all Nigerians cannot be involved in the process or act of law-making, but must do so through representation which is indirect form of democracy, the next leadership of the House must be made up of people who are accessible to all and sundry!

The era of master-servant relationships in the leadership of the House are over. Hence, those who are aspiring to lead the 8th National Assembly must be people who are accessible, approachable and believe in wide consultation as part and parcel of decision-making processes.

Finally, like the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Chief John Oyegun rightly said at an event to welcome new APC Governors and bid farewell to outgoing ones, “The whole world was with us when we started the struggle for change… Therefore, you must sit down to fashion out ways of tackling the responsibilities or the burden change has put on our shoulders.” In lieu of this, I dare say that members of the 8th National Assembly must roll up their sleeves to tackle the challenge, change has brought to its doorsteps fairly and squarely by electing credible leaders in to principal positions.

•Uhara wrote in from Abuja.