Reacting to the recent developments in Mauritania which have just had a referendum to abolish its upper house of legislature after it was described as ‘useless and too costly’ by its President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, Hon. Engr. Solomon Adaelu insisted that the Nigeria could become a ‘Gorilla Republic’ without the Legislature, as it is the only reliable voice for the common man in a democracy.
According to the Hon. Member representing Obingwa, Osisioma and Ugwunabgo Federal Constituency of Abia state, “the National Assembly has been very responsive to the yearnings and desires of the masses especially when you look at the just concluded constitution review process that dealt with a lot of hanging constitutional issues that either gave room for executive inaction which slowed down our economy terribly or created electoral quagmires as the case was in some states. So no right thinking Nigerian would discredit the Legislature unduly because some other countries had to scrap theirs.”
He made this statement speaking exclusively to our correspondent while attending the COREN Conference for Engineers held at the ICC Abuja, when he was asked to give a score card of his parliamentary performance so far since the last two years.
He responded by stating that one of the 33 bills considered and passed by national assembly is a bill which seeks to alter section 147 sub section 6 and 5, which aims at providing a time frame within which the President or a Governor must forward to the Senate or State House of Assembly names of Ministerial and Commissioner nominees for confirmation was sponsored by him.
The bill proposed a maximum of 30 days after taking oath of office. It seeks to provide for the attachments of portfolio to names of nominees before forwarding to the parliament, which in his view was partly responsible for the slow pace of the economy as the APC administration kicked off.
According to the Hon member from Abia State, “It took this present administration 8 months to appoint ministers, this inaction eroded the confidence of foreign investors and also raised a lot of suspicion in the mind of the citizens as to the motive and direction of the government. This delay in the appointment of ministers impacted negatively on our economy, and we cannot afford to go through that scenario again in our life as a nation. That is why the Parliament was swift to fill that lacuna in our constitution in order to prevent subsequent government from placing critical sectors of our economy at risk.
“This bill proposes a time frame of 30 days after taking the oath of office, the president or a governor must forward to the parliament the names of nominees for screening and confirmation,” he said.
It is worth noting that the constitution is not specific or did not provide a time frame for the constitution of Federal or State executive council. That shortfall has been exploited by successive administrations both at the state and federal level to delay the appointment of ministers and commissioners. while the constitution provides the functions of the chief executive, it also provides the appointment of ministers and commissioners with specific mandates, to enunciate policies and implement programmes of the government.
This bill according to the Abia state born Engineer, seeks to alter some sections of the constitution to make it mandatory for the President or a Governor to forward the names of his ministerial or commissioner nominees to the parliament within 30 days from the date the oath of office and allegiance is administered.
“The framers of our constitution understood how important a cabinet is, that is why sections 147 and 192 gave the parliament 21 working days to screen and confirm nominations from the executive.”
The legislator also lamented that there were other important bills which unfortunately was not considered during the constitution review process such as the bill that seeks to alter section 192, subsections 1 and 2 to provide a uniform retirement age of 70 years for all judicial officers, because he described the justices as wine that get better with age and should not be allowed to retire without being of maximum benefit to the nation.
“As a Parliament we cannot pretend that we do not know the disappointment of majority of Nigerians on the non passage of devolution of power bill but my opinion is that we as a people must not condemn the entire national assembly for this.
“Although a particular section of the country was not comfortable with this idea in the first instance and so they voted accordingly and unfortunately majority took the day. Nigerians have spoken and shown their resentment over the non passage of devolution of power bill, and so I have no doubt that the national assembly will revisit that issue in the future,” he said.