The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan on Friday asked Nigerians to vote the current National Assembly members out in 2023; if they performed below expectations.
He said it would be better to pay attention to the work they are doing instead of engaging in endless agitations over alleged “Jumbo” salaries and allowances enjoyed by lawmakers.”
Lawan spoke in Abuja on Friday while declaring open a retreat for top management staff of the National Assembly and National Assembly Service Commission.
He said, “Where is the Jumbo pay? We should be looking for value for money. Without this National Assembly or the Legislature across the country, what we have is no democracy anymore. So the value of the National Assembly or the Legislature to Nigeria is democracy.
“We always debate on Jumbo pay instead of what should be the functions and hold us responsible for what we are able to do and for what we are not able to do.
“Ask for what you think we should be doing rather than saying ‘close the Senate’ or ‘close the National Assembly.’ Do you understand the implication of this?
“You close the Senate, for example, not because I’m in the Senate but the Senate is a leveler. Senate is a leveler because in the House of Representatives, the population is a major consideration and that’s why some States will have five or six members of the House and others will have more than 20.
“So if you say ‘close the Senate,’ you can be sure that there will be a day when people will cry foul of the tyranny of the majority.
“But you come to the Senate, what Kano state produces in the Senate is what Bayelsa produces – three Senators in Kano and you have three Senators from Bayelsa.
“That gives everyone the advantage and the opportunity to be represented fully and properly and equally in the Senate. So that stabilises the system. That tells you that that representation in the Senate that provides equality of states is to work to ensure that every part of this country is fully represented and protected.”
According to Lawan, the proposed budget of N125 billion to the National Assembly is less than 1% of Nigeria’s total budget of N13 trillion.
” Maybe I should also mention, in a budget of over N13 trillion, the National Assembly will have a budget of N125 to N128 billion. What percentage is that? It’s less than 1%. So where is the remaining 99 percent?”
Lawan said the calls in some quarters to scrap the National Assembly were misplaced; stressing that Nigerians needed to understand the value of the legislature as the bastion of democracy.
He added, “I’m not here to defend the National Assembly but I’m here to encourage a debate on what the National Assembly means to us as a country or what our legislature means to us as a country and as a people.
“If you don’t like the set of members in the Ninth National Assembly, change all of us in 2023. Get better people but help support the system to function because that is your protection.”
The Senate President said the National Assembly was working to ensure the passage of the 2021 Budget by the second week of December.
He also hinted that the 9th Assembly would conclude work on its proposed constitutional amendment and review of the Electoral Act, 2010 in 2021.
The Senate President also promised that the 9th Assembly would break the jinx around the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and make sure it was passed in the 2nd Quarter of 2021.
Addressing participants at the retreat; the Clerk to the National Assembly, Ojo Olatunde, said the event called for sober reflection on how to change the narratives and make the bureaucracy of the National Assembly more effective and efficient.
The Director-General, National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS); Abubakar Sulaiman, emphasized the need for greater partnership among the various agencies of the National Assembly.