MEMORANDUM BY IK OGBONNA TO SENATE PUBLIC HEARING ON THE PROPOSED ALTERATION TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW COMMITTEE HELD IN OWERRI, IMO STATE FROM WEDNESDAY 26TH TO THURSDAY 27TH MAY, 2021.
WITHER THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES; THE NEED FOR A UNICAMERAL LEGISLATURE IN NIGERIA
Nigeria’s match to democracy has been bedeviled by several failed attempts aimed at lying 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 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.
The operation of a bicameral system of lawmaking is a big clog in our ride to an enduring democracy. While the Senate has 3 members per state plus one for the Federal Capital Territory making 109, the Federal House of Representatives has a total of 360 members based on the number of LGAs per state.A bicameral legislature is EXPENSIVE and a drain on our dwindling national resources. Why do we need 469 lawmakers at the centre?
DUPLICITY of functions. 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.
LOPSIDEDNESS: 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?
DELAY IN LAWMAKING: The need for a bill and other legislative actions to pass through both Houses is an unnecessary delay and a clog in or development.
CORRUPTION AND NEPOTISM: 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.
THE WAY FORWARD
I advocate that the House of Representatives be scraped from our constitution leaving only The Senate. This is so as 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.
- COST REDUCTION
- REDUCTION IN CORRUPTION.
- SENSE OF UNITY, ONENESS AND EQUALITY.
- INCREASED PACE OF LAWMAKING
- EQUAL REPRESENTATION.
Ladies and gentlemen, gentlemen of the press, I apologize for taking your time but let us be mindful that we have once again another golden opportunity to right wrongs, to lay a suitable foundation for our democracy and engender unity and oneness.
WHAT CAUSES DISUNITY IS WHEN YOU TREAT EQUALS UNEQUALLY AND UNEQUALS EQUALLY.
Thank you and may the good Lord lead you safely.
Ikechukwu Ogbonna, mcai, anipr (is an Oweri based journalist and PR practitioner)
Owerri, Imo State
Wednesday, May 26, 2021