War against the Senate

By Akinyemi Onigbinde

While it is right to condemn individual actors in political office, it will amount to a great disservice to democracy to advocate the abbrogation of the Nigeria Senate, just because we are currently dissatisfied with some of the actions of some of the present members of the legistlative body. Except our call is for a Unicameral legislative chamber, thereby leading to the cancellation of one of the chambers of the National Assembly,can such agitation be valid.Even at that, the functions and powers of the two chambers will have to be inherited by the newly established single-Chamber parliament.

However, if we are dissatisfied with some of the powers the present constitution confers on the Senate we may well launch a campaign for constitutional review, with a view of abbrogating such powers or seek a reduction of such powers.But we cannot encourage the Executive arm of government to disregard the decisions of parliament it finds objectionable.If, however, Senate is said to have misapplied its inherent powers, the recourse should be to the Supreme Court for necessary adjudication between the two arms of government.The Executive cannot resort to self-help, as that will be courting lawlessness.Yet, media incitement by members of the Executive arm of government, affected by some of the decisions of parliament is childish as such is against the spirit of democracy.

In the final analysis, it should be remembered that what makes the difference between dictatorship and democracy is the existence of a vibrant legislature. Precisely why it is always the parliament that is totally diabled from functioning in any military take over of power in any country, while the judiciary is left to function at the discretion of the Executive that now combines law- making to its brief, and such supposed law-making, devoid of any rigourous legislative process often include provisions that outst extant powers of the judiciary to review human rights vitiating decrees from a ruling military junta.

Thus, no matter, how reprehensible some of the decisions of parliament may seem, it will be self-destruct for a nation-state to court the abrogation of parliament, and the people must be suspicious of such instigation, through media campaign, if such agitation is coming from some members of the Executive, as we have witessed in recent times over budget-related issues.

Our consolation, as a people, over parliamentry rascality, should lie in our individual and collective power of recall, as provisioned in Nigeria electoral act,whereby, perceived “non-performing legislators” may be removed, and be replaced by citizens welfare-compliant persons in parliament.

Yet, no matter how powerful a parliament is, and how immune its members consider themselves, and, indeed,how difficult and cumbersome it is to recall “non-performing” members by their respective constituencies, it is trite as a legislative groundnum that “no parliament can bind its successor”.Thus, at the end of the day, a people determined to change the cause of their abused history can excercise the power of voting to elect the right people into parliament at the next available parliamentry elections, with reasonable expectation that those newly elected legislators will undo whatever real or perceived damages the previous parliament may have done to our nation body-politic


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