When the talk about part time legislature is been debated, people’s minds go to allowances, salaries and other benefits. But that is not really the issue. The issue is the overhead cost. If the overhead cost is not controlled — as it relates to the executive, legislature and the judiciary — we cannot achieve a reasonable reduction in the cost of governance. Even if somebody works for two months but run a very high overhead cost, we would not achieve any cost reduction.
Full-time legislature is a waste of resources and time. The work of a legislator does not justify his being there on a full-time basis. I have had the opportunity to serve the country there through the youth corps programme. To be honest, the work could be better done on part-time. The enormity of work in the Senate — which is the highest level of lawmaking — is not enough to occupy the Senate every day of the week.
That is why they work three days –Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Yet, the three days are not fully utilized. Most of the time, they are busy with their personal activities. They spend much of the time discussing exorbitant allowances.
They can achieve both legislative and oversight functions working on a part-time basis. By the way, what is the essence of oversight responsibility? They use the opportunity to make money for themselves. Rather than keeping ministries, departments and agencies on their toes, they go about soliciting for money.
Many Nigerians are of the right opinion that many of the legislators are short changing the country and the National Assembly with regular absenteeism, irregular and untimely arrival for sessions which result in low productivity.
Pitiably, Nigerians watch with dismay how members stroll into the legislative chamber when the proceeding in the Red and Green Chambers is almost concluded without visible respect for the time schedules in the parliament, yet these are leaders whom we are expecting to lay good examples, serves as models for emulation.
In all developed countries Nigeria is trying to emulate, members of the legislature have their professions and they don’t resign their appointments to become lawmakers. Part time legislature would be good if the Federal Government wants to attract high-calibre people to politics.
There is nothing stopping an accountant, lecturer or banker from venturing into politics and do it part time. This would enable them to still hold on to their jobs and do politics. It will be beneficial because all these people are coming with skills and experiences from their own professions. So why can’t we use these skills and experiences in shaping our country?