Resist Executive Interference, Mark Tells Legislators | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Resist Executive Interference, Mark Tells Legislators

Posted: May 11, 2015 at 5:41 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

.Bemoans high turnover of legislators

By Ignatius Okorocha, Abuja

The Senate President, Senator David Mark, on Monday in Abuja, charged members of the state assemblies to resist all forms of executive interference and stop being mere rubber stamps of executive decisions.

Mark, who gave the charge in a keynote address at the opening of a five-day induction course for new state legislators organised by the National Institute for Legislative Studies at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja, particularly charged politicians to shun election tribunals.

He regretted that state legislators have over the years been engrossed in executive interference even to the level of being used as rubber stamps in the hands of the state governors because of their inability to enjoy financial autonomy.

“At the national level, the legislature has continued to assert its independence and resist executive interference. Thus, the legislature has achieved institutional stability and transformed from being a ‘mere rubber stamp’ of executive decisions and policy initiatives into an institution that now enjoys a reasonable degree of legitimacy and respect.

“I am aware of the weaknesses in the resource positions of many, if not all the state assemblies. Most state assemblies face challenges such as lack of adequate facilities, low quality of support staff, inadequate capacity building activities and Executive dominance and interference, “Mark observed.

He urged them to borrow a leaf from the National Assembly, which has achieved institutional stability and transformed from being a ‘mere rubber stamp’ of executive decisions by resisting the executive interference.

“The legislature in Nigeria has a chequered history. But in all its travails, the parliament has stood on the side of the people and intervened at the most critical moments to salvage the system from imminent collapse.

“I have always maintained that the most important legacy of the legislature in the last 16 years is its commitment to lawmaking, oversight functions and representation to ensure good governance. The legislature has also come to be recognised as a watch dog of the executive and an important link between citizens and the state,” he stated.

Furthermore, he said, “As lawmakers, you must avoid holding your sessions in the council chambers of the government houses. It is ignoble to use the mace outside the chamber or borrow local government legislative council mace to conduct your affairs or resort to self-help by using your mace to perpetuate violence.

“You must conduct your sittings in line with the provisions of the Constitution and the extant rules of the House. As state legislators, you must restrain yourselves from the excessive use of the constitutional provision that empowers you to impeach either your speakers, executive governors or their deputies,” he advised.
Mark lamented the high turnover of legislators at the beginning of every tenure because of loss of experienced parliamentarians at the end of every administration which impacts negatively on the effectiveness of the institution of the legislature.

“Since 1999, a defining feature of our democracy has been the high turnover of our legislators. This presents a serious challenge as it impacts negatively on legislative effectiveness as more experienced members give way to newer ones. As a result, in every four years institutional memory is lost and sadly the nation is worse off for it,” he noted.

He extolled the rare gems of President Goodluck Jonathan in the just concluded presidential election by accepting his defeat in good faith and urged the lawmakers to emulate his virtues.

According to him, Jonathan not only demonstrated patriotism and political maturity, but also has put Nigeria on the world map of the league of mature democracies.

“As I said at the induction of  federal legislators, real credit must go to Nigerians, and especially President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, for overseeing transparent and credible elections and for promoting a political culture of tolerance. The President’s gesture of congratulating the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, and conceding defeat, even before the final results were announced, is exemplary.

“He has demonstrated patriotism, political maturity; but more importantly, as a statesman, he has put Nigeria on the world map of the league of mature democracies.
This must be a lesson to all politicians that our first loyalty is, and must be to the state. It is also imperative to state that President Jonathan has not gone to any election tribunal. I enjoin politicians to imbibe this example,” he stated.

“Just as I have called for synergy between state assemblies and the National Assembly, I wish to emphasise that a strong partnership is also required between the executive and the legislature in order for Nigeria to achieve its developmental goals, increase transparency and accountability and curb corruption,” he added.