NASS Resumption and the Citizens Expectations: Matters Arising! -Ishola Adebayo

October 19, 2018

Life returned to the polity with the eventual resumption of plenary by the National Assembly on October 9th. Both chambers of the National Assembly went on recess on Tuesday, July 25, instead of Thursday July 27 on a controversial note, after what was considered a botched attempt to remove Saraki and Ekweremadu. The recess which lasted for nearly over two months, it goes without saying that the plate is full for the federal legislators, as much is also expected of them from Nigerians.

Before the resumption of legislative duties by the lawmakers, a lot of mind bugging issues that border on unity and security of the country have been on the front burner. If it is not violent protest from youths of some major ethnic groups, it is agitation for the country to be restructured to ensure fairness and balance in the federal character. The adverse result of the recent flood disaster in some part of the country have prompted widespread reactions from many Nigerians. Lives and property were lost and damaged, just as scores of persons are displaced.

Meanwhile, serious national issues have been stalemated because of the Assembly’s recess. Just before they went on recess, Saraki read a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari asking the lawmakers to approve the Independent National Electoral Commission’s budget for the 2019 elections. The presidency appealed to the Assembly to reconvene in order to pass this budget, but the threat to impeach Saraki as well as the Department of State Services’ [DSS] despicable siege on the Assembly Complex on August 7 fouled the atmosphere and the plan to reconvene early was jettisoned. Since then, the two chambers’ committees have worked on INEC’s budget and reduced it from N189billion to N143billion. Yet, it can only be passed into law by the two chambers.

There is also the stalemate over the Electoral Act. President Buhari complicated matters by not assenting to the bill, saying there were errors in it. It is surprising that a government which controls both the executive and legislative arms of government has been unable to pass such critical legislation less than six months to the general elections. Unless the amended electoral act is passed into law, key tools such as the card reader will not be covered by law and could jeopardize the integrity of the 2019 elections.

As it stands, now that the country is faced with numerous challenges that are seeking urgent remedy, the National Assembly has now resume and it is incumbent on the lawmakers to quickly set in motion rapid legislative actions to ensure that the unity of the country is achieved and the unwavering ethnic agitations are put to rest. It is imperative for citizens to vote in capable legislators into the National Assembly instead of merely endorsing the options provided by the so-called large parties.