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Constitution Review: “We Don’t Need 469 Lawmakers At National Assembly”

An Owerri-based journalist and PR practitioner, Mr. Ikechukwu Ogbonna has said the current bicameral legislature which accommodates the Senate and House of Representatives, comprising about 469 lawmakers is no more attainable in Nigeria, insisting that current economic realities has made it outdated.

In his presentation in Owerri at the just concluded constitution review public hearing, South-East zone, Mr. Ogbonna said Nigeria must develop its own unique pattern of leadership structure instead of an imported American system which he said does not reflect the country’s needs, ABN TV reports.

He said, “Nigeria’s match to democracy has been bedevilled by several failed attempts aimed at laying a solid foundation for its sustainability and development. This development has been partially stymied and derailed by copy “catism” of our constitution and its structures. We “ADOPT” rather than “ADAPT” to suit our peculiar social, economic and ethnic milieu. To ADOPT is to take something over while ADAPT is to CHANGE something to SUIT YOUR NEEDS.

“In the 1st Republic, we copied the British parliamentary system because our colonial overlords were British and felt their system was best for us. The experiment ended in a fiasco. Since the 2nd republic, we copied hook, line, and sinker, the American model of democracy and yet no respite. We need our own unique system fashioned for our peculiarities.

“Our legislative arm of government is bicameral with two houses like the American system, The Senate and the Federal House of Representatives. This paper is calling for a change to a unicameral system of legislature.”

He, therefore, insisted that the operation of a bicameral system of lawmaking is a big challenge in the country’s quest for an enduring democracy.

He noted that it is expensive to service the 109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives which make up that National Assembly, querying why the country needs 469 legislators.

On the disadvantages of such a system, Mr. Ogbonna said, it duplicates functions, creates lopsidedness, delays in lawmaking as well as fuelling corruption and nepotism.

He said, “We usually hear that a bill has been passed into law awaiting CONCURRENCE from the other House before it is transmitted to the President for assent.

“Kano with 44 LGAs has 24 Reps, Bayelsa 5, Ebonyi 6, Katsina 15, Abia 8, Lagos 24, Kwara 6. In a federation of EQUALS, why should a state have more Representatives than two or three other states put together?

“The need for a bill and other legislative actions to pass through both Houses is an unnecessary delay and a clog in or development.

“It is enough to deal with the corrupt tendencies of one House than dealing with two. We are all aware of the cries of MDAs about the ‘oversight’ functions of our legislators. These MDAs deal with the indiscriminate demands of committees from both Houses on daily basis.”

He, therefore, advocated for the House of Representatives to be scraped from the constitution, leaving only The Senate.

He underlined that, “A UNICAMERAL LEGISLATURE OPERATES IN ALL STATES OF OUR FEDERATION TILL DATE and yet are meeting up to some extent their legislative duties.

“I advocate that the number of Senators be increased to 3 per Senatorial Zone such that each state would send nine (9), rather than 3 Senators, to Abuja making a total of 216 plus 1 from FCT making 217 lawmakers instead of 469 as they are today.”

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