PROFESSIONALIZING THE ART OF LAWMAKING IN NIGERIA
The major problem of modern lawmaking in Nigeria is not the appendage of lawmakers to the executive arms that operate at federal and State levels per se. Rather, it is about parliamentary quackery, profligacy and tendency to see lawmaking duty as a business enterprise. In organized sociopolitical climes, lawmaking is highly professionalized and revered. Parliamentary rascality, which routinely occurs in Nigeria, must not be mixed with the doctrine of parliamentary independence. Impeaching the president or the governor or issuance of threats of impeachment is too far from parliamentary independence.
In Nigeria, legislative parochialism, quackery and mercantilism have remained the stock in trade of the lawmaking process. In a standard lawmaking chambers, there exists competition among lawmakers. Such competition arises from demonstration of legislative professionalism and intellectualism. Unfortunately, what we have in Nigeria is competition arising from mercantilism and materialism, especially in the area of legislative oversight enquiries. Though, legislative oversight enquiries are purely civil and non-binding, but the target agencies and firms usually part with huge sums in the context of “corporate bribery” so as to be extricated. This area is now a gold mine for Nigerian lawmakers.
An average internationally rated lawmaker operates a world class legislative library and laboratory, which serves not only as a rich resource for private and public oriented civil and criminal inquiries, but also center for formulation and sustenance of national interest, public security and safety as well as foreign policy and diplomacy. Art of modern lawmaking requires being a thinker, a virile agent of social change and a graduate of legislative studentship.
The floor of a universally standardized legislative chambers must also composed of "Amicus Curiae" or a team of experts renowned in natural and social science disciplines including gurus in the Bench, Bar, Juridical, Criminology, Security Expertise, Medicine, Pharmacy, Sociology, Theology, Politics, Diplomacy, Environmental Safety, Human Rights, and so on. But in Nigeria, through consistently unchecked executive-legislative-organized labour conspiracy, the country is steadily put in huge indebtedness and high costs of public governance with shocking and crude allocation of over 70% of the annual fiscal accruals for the servicing of infinitesimal public office holders numbering 17,500 and their daily office attendants, leaving other 170 million Nigerians with paltry 30%. This is why there is consistent dearth of basic necessities of life including critical infrastructures. .
This further explains why our country is monumentally backward and strife-prone. Nigerian legislative doors must be shut against socially downward and upward quarks. This includes professional quarks and compound quarks. That is to say those who are educated illiterates and uneducated illiterates. There shall be established a graduate and post graduate level Institute in the country to train prospective Nigerian lawmakers. Nobody will qualify to become a lawmaker be it at State or federal level unless he or she possesses the Institute's certificate. This should be incorporated into the INEC’s legislative eligibility provisions.
To curb the perennial menace of high costs of public governance in the country, all the allowances of Nigerian lawmakers and executive officials both at federal and State levels should be cut by 60% so as to unclothe them of their present international pariah toga or status of "world's highest paid lawmakers" and recover funds traditionally meant for development and empowerment of Nigerians including those the likes of Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State christened “destitute-Nigerians” . Also allowances paid annually to the country’s 12,788 top LGA officials, which is N550 Billion, should be cut by 60% and N330 Billion saved, channeled into development and sustenance of the country’s critical social sectors.
Written By Emeka Umeagbalasi