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THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY: THE CENTRE FOR NIGERIA’S PROGRESS

 
The National Assembly plays a significant role in the political system of Nigeria. It covers every aspect of Nigeria’s existence. Without its effectiveness, Nigeria’s socio-economic development will be brought to a standstill.


According to the Office of the President of the Senate, the National Assembly is the highest law-making body in Nigeria. It is a bi-cameral legislature with two (2) equal legislative powers in terms of law making. The Senate is the “upper chamber” and the House of Representative is the “lower chamber”. Nigeria practices the “presidential system” of democracy as against the “parliamentary system”.

The National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is established under section 4 of the Nigerian constitution and comprises a 109-member Senate and a 360-member House of Representatives. The body, modelled after the federal congress of the United States, is meant to guarantee equal representation of the states irrespective of size in the Senate and the proportional representation of population in the House. The National Assembly is located in the federal capital, Abuja. Bills introduced to the parliament must get the concurrent approval from the both chambers before the president could sign them into law.
The National Assembly has broad oversight functions and is empowered to establish committees of its members to scrutinise the bills and conduct of government officials.
The Senate has the unique power of impeachment of judges and other high officials of the executive including the Federal Auditor-General and the members of the electoral and revenue commissions, the power is subject however, to prior request by the president.
The House and Senate must agree before a bill is passed into law, which in turn must receive the president’s assent. Should the president delay or refuse assent (veto) the bill, the National Assembly may pass the law by two-third of both chambers and overrule the veto and the president’s consent will not be required.
The National Assembly is the “engine room” of Nigeria’s existence. It is a place where all the major activities that propel Nigeria’s progress are carried out. The ineptitude, negligence and lack of political will of most members of past National Assemblies have seriously stagnated Nigeria’s growth and economic development.
If the National Assembly plays its role significantly in timely approval of budgets, passing of citizen-impact bills and does not allow discrimination, anti-party rife, intra-party rife, nepotism, ethnicity and religion never to play key roles in its leadership, Nigeria will be raised to the realm of lofty and eye-catching development.
The Senate under the leadership of Senate President, Bukola Saraki and the House of Representative under the leadership of the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, have taken one of the most impactful steps in this democratic dispensation by the constitution review that has taken place. The constitution which is the “leadership manual” of Nigeria (and any democratic nation) can only be amended if the National Assembly begins the process.
If the National Assembly must make the desired impact Nigerians hope for, it must fervently, without jeopardy of the wellbeing of Nigerians promote the basic institutional framework that are necessary to achieve good governance such as a commitment to transparency, effective government structures and oversight, anti-corruption laws, whistleblower protection and freedom of the press.
Since the National Assembly is the centre of Nigeria’s progress, if it fails, Nigeria fails. If it succeeds, Nigeria succeeds. Therefore, Saraki and Dogara should ensure at all times that their leadership trajectories make life-changing impact on Nigerians so that Nigeria’ progress will be rapid and its unity and existence can be sustained against all odds.


 By Terfa Naswem

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