In the last eleven years of the present democratic dispensation, controversies and scandals have become second nature to the Senate and House of Representatives, the two chambers of the National Assembly constitutionally saddled with making laws for the good governance of the country.
Our legislature has become more known for unwholesome practices. None of their actions, either as individual members or the legislative body as a whole, inspires confidence in their personal integrity or that of the institution they represent.
Of late, at least three contentious bills from the upper legislative chamber, the Senate, have continued to attract public outrage.
The bills, which are unreservedly self-serving and undemocratic, include the one seeking to amend the Electoral Act to make members of the National Assembly automatic members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of their various political parties. The NEC is the highest decision making organ of the parties.
The other controversial bill seeks to create special pension benefits for former presidents, heads of state and vice presidents and their children and spouses, principal officers of the National Assembly and their deputies and former Chief Justices of the federation. No less controversial is the bill dealing with the inauguration of the president.
In this bill, the federal legislators want a law which will put them in charge of whatever committees the Federal Government may put in place for the inauguration of the president and the vice president. These bills have reportedly gone through the second reading in the Senate. They need a third mention before they are passed to the president for his assent after which they become law.
Altogether, these bills are, perhaps, the most selfish and opportunistic legislations ever contemplated by members of a parliament supposedly 'elected' to make laws for the good governance of a country and its citizens. The provisions of these bills are both unconstitutional and absurd. It is disheartening that at a time Nigerians are clamouring for laws that will advance the cause of democracy and improve the lot of the citizens, legislators are preoccupied with proposing laws that will serve their own selfish interests. Monetary rewards and the quest for more power are clearly the motivational factors propelling them.
It is not hard to see why the legislators are moving at such a frantic speed to ensure the passage of these bills. For example, the attempt to make the principal officers of the two chambers automatic members of their NEC totally negates the spirit and letters of our democracy, and the internal mechanisms which currently guide the selection of delegates of the parties during their national conventions. Indeed, the bill is a bold but illegal attempt to hijack the parties' decision-making organs, and to control their affairs through the back door.
This move to seize control of the parties' machinery is indecent and illegal. It must not be allowed to sail through. Ditto for the proposed special pension benefits, as this runs contrary to section 84 of the existing constitution which prescribes specific ex-public officers who are entitled to such benefits.
We view these attempts by the National Assembly as an assault on the collective will of the Nigerian people and the constitution. Democracy will suffer incalculable harm if these bills are allowed to become law. In short, by these attempts, the members of the National Assembly are killing democracy subtly. It is a clear emasculation of internal democracy of the parties. Nigerians should, therefore, rise to resist this incipient dictatorship of members of the National Assembly.
It is disheartening that the legislators who are being paid from public treasury are now breaking the plates in which their meals are served. We encourage the opposition parties in their resistance to this looming legislative heist. The sponsors of these bills ought to be called to order by their various constituencies. It is sad that these latest noxious bills are coming after the legislators failed in their bid to perpetuate themselves in office beyond the coming polls via the automatic tickets they tried to get through amendment of the constitution to insert a clause tagged 'Right of first refusal', which would have given them first right to retain their assembly seats. This is the time to stop these legislators in their tracks before they become law unto themselves.