BusinessDay

Pundits blame poor governance on National Assembly

Pundits have blamed the National Assembly for what they described as poor governance in the country, saying the legislative arm has allowed itself to become the rubber stamp for the presidency amid worsening insecurity and economic woes.

The pundits across economy, politics and public affairs, stated this in separate interviews.

They decry that the Ahmad Lawan-led Senate and Femi Gbajabiamila-led House of Representatives have done great disservice to Nigerians by not ensuring the independence of the legislature, as well as failure to perform the checks and balances responsibility on the executive arm of government.

The pundits insisted that the cordial relationship between the legislature and the executive arm of government has not helped the country, but only served the interest of the legislature.

“A legislature that is confrontational with the executive arm will serve the interest of the public. When Bukola Saraki presided over the Senate, the executive arm found it difficult to get away with anything; at least, they had to fight for it,” Edwin Uteghe, an economist, said.

“Today, it is a shame that whenever the President coughs, the National Assembly shakes. All the foreign loans Buhari got approvals for would not have been approved if we have a strong legislature,” he said.

The economist further noted that Nigerians are suffering today for the ability of the National Assembly to hold the executive accountable for its responsibilities.

“At his swearing-in ceremony, the President swore an oath to protect the lives and property of Nigerians, but he has failed and the National Assembly still left him and even approved ridiculous loans for him. In sane countries, he would have either resigned or impeached,” Magnus Ocheme, an Abuja-based political analyst, said.

He said: “If the National Assembly claims to be strong, why allow the presidency to drag the country into low-grade war with Boko Haram and bandits, yet fund for security is approved and siphoned and why the approval of unnecessary foreign loans, which have benefited Niger Republic more than Nigerians who this administration has impoverished since its assumption in office in 2015.

“When the members of the cabal insisted on Lawan and Gbajabiamila for National Assembly leadership, we knew where they were going.”

He stressed that it was obvious that they wanted no opposition, a government that will have its way even when the masses are crying out.

“Had the government listened to the outcry of no more foreign loans, name and shame sponsors of Boko Haram, or even reduce taxes for small businesses to breathe. But the National Assembly could have forced the executive to bend in favour of the masses if it was not a rubber stamp,” Ocheme said.

Senators from the opposition parties recently gave a six-week ultimatum to President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle security challenges bedevilling the country.

They also threatened to commence impeachment proceedings against the President should he fail to address the insecurity within the period given by the lawmakers.

Read also: Buhari shelves FEC, appoints Habiba Lawal as SA on policy

Although such a threat is not new, there are doubts across the country about the chances of lawmakers succeeding with such a plan.

Part of the reason is that the ruling party is the majority in the National Assembly and just like in the past, such calls may never be entertained by Lawan.

Thus, it would not be a surprise if the issue is swept under the carpet by the lawmakers upon their resumption from recess.

However, the aggrieved pundits criticised the National Assembly for being too soft on national issues and not putting up challenges to the presidency on wrongdoings to the detriment of good democratic governance.

They said while the present National Assembly would claim to be the most peaceful and supportive of the executive arm, it has been the worst in serving the interest of the masses who they are supposed to be representing.

Many say that the peace is tantamount to more money in their pocket and hard times for Nigerians, whose unborn children will suffer the impact of the loans and poor governance of today.

“The functionality, efficiency and responsiveness of this current NASS should be linked with the politics of the emergence of its leadership, a clear understanding of the reason why this NASS is responding to the requests thrown at them by the Buhari-led executive.

“What I mean is that the executive and the leadership of the APC played key roles in their emergence and so, they would be subservient, docile, answerable and acting according to the executive’s wishes.

“This current NASS has not only been docile and as well a rubber stamp but also corrupt and aid corrupt practices carried out by the Buhari administration,” Ifeanyi Atah, a political pundit, said.

Atah stressed that it was disheartening and painful that this NASS only makes noise on issues of national importance and refuses to act.

“This is a House of legislative elite whose understanding of governance issues is expected to shape public policies and put on check the executives but instead stand as a toothless bulldog.

“It is very disheartening and painful that this NASS only makes noise on issues of National importance and acts less on what could mortgage the future of generations yet unborn,” Atah said.

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