OrderPaperToday – President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has asked Nigerians to vote out non-performing senators in 2023.
He stated this on Friday while reacting to repeated criticisms of the budgetary allocation to the National Assembly as well as the wages and allowances of members of the legislature.
Nigerians who seek a cut in the cost of governance have repeatedly claimed that Nigerian lawmakers are the highest paid in the world. A report by OrderPaper addresses this claim.
Others have called for a unicameral legislature in place of the dual houses currently in operation.
Declaring open a retreat for top National Assembly Management and the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, on Friday, Lawan addressed these criticisms by asking that citizens to vote out non-performing senators at the next general elections.
He also reiterated the importance of having both federal chambers in a bicameral legislature.
He said: “Without the national assembly and the legislature across the country, what you have is not democracy anymore. So the value of the legislature and national assembly to Nigerians is democracy. If you take out the legislature, it might not be a dictatorship but certainly not a democracy.
“So when we always debate on jumbo pay and not the functions of the national assembly – what we are able to do and what we are not able to do. Ask for what you think we should be doing rather than saying close the senate or the national assembly. Do you understand the implications of if we close the senate? Not because I am in the senate.
“The senate is a leveler because in the house of representatives, population is major – that is why some states will have five, six members and others have up to 20. So if you say close the senate, there will be a day when people will cry foul.
“But in the senate, what Kano produces is what Bayelsa will produce. Three senators in Kano and three senators in Bayelsa, so that stabilizes the system. In a budget of N13 trillion the national assembly will get about N125 billion to N128 billion, what percentage is that? So where is the remaining 99 percent.
“I’m not here to defend the national assembly but I’m here to encourage the debate on what it means to us as country. If you don’t like the set of members in the ninth national assembly, change all of us in 2023. Get better people. Let’s support the system to function.”
In terms of performance, Lawan has not impressed in the last and current senate, especially in terms of bills. While he did not sponsor a single bill in the first year of the 9th senate, he is credited with only a bill in the four years of the preceding assembly.
A previous report in this newspaper’s ongoing Report Card Series gives the scorecard of the top five senators in the first year of the extant senate.