Ahead of 2023 general and presidential elections, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has asked Nigerians not to vote for them if they have failed the people.
Lawan has also told Nigerians that the annual budget of the National Assembly is less than one percent of the nation’s 2021 budget.
According to him, those who are not comfortable with the Senators in the present 9th Senate should not hesitate to vote them out in 2023 if they don’t like their faces, adding that it will be better for Nigerians to vote out the current crop of Federal lawmakers, replace them with new and better representatives instead of engaging in endless agitations to close down the National Assembly and debates over alleged “Jumbo” salaries and allowances enjoyed by lawmakers.
Speaking on Thursday, November 19, 2020, in Abuja when he formally declared opened a retreat organized for top management staff of the National Assembly and National Assembly Service Commission, Lawan who warned that there could be anarchy if the Senate is scrapped as being clamoured by some Nigerians, however, described the Senate as a leveler which ensured that all parts of the country are equally represented unlike the House of Representatives where states with higher populations produce the highest number of lawmakers.
The President of the Senate also faulted the argument of those clamouring for the scrapping of the Senate because of the perceived jumbo pay being earned by the Senators is misplaced; stressing that Nigerians need to understand the value of the legislature as the bastion of democracy.
According to Lawan, the current budgetary allocation of the National Assembly put at N125 billion is minute; less than 1% of Nigeria’s total budget of N13 trillion.
Lawan 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 leveller 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 stabilises 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.”
The President of the Senate who disclosed that the National Assembly is working assiduously to ensure the passage of the 2021 Budget by the second week of December, said that the 9th Assembly will conclude work on its proposed constitution amendment and review of the Electoral Act, 2010 in 2021.
Lawan also promised that the 9th Assembly will break the jinx around the highly contentious Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, and make sure it is passed in the 2nd Quarter of 2021.
Addressing participants at the retreat, the Clerk to the National Assembly, Ojo Olatunde Amos said the event creates opportunity for sober reflection on how to change the narratives and make the bureaucracy of the National Assembly more effective and efficient.
Also speaking, the director-general, National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, NILDS; Abubakar Sulaiman empathized the need for greater partnership among the various agencies of the National Assembly.
According to him, the institute will continue to provide the much required technical know-how to strengthen the legal and institutional capacity of the National Assembly.