The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Friday, made an audacious call asking Nigerians to vote out the current National Assembly members including himself in 2023, if they are not satisfied with their performance in office.
Lawan said it will be better for Nigerians to vote out the current crop of Federal lawmakers, replace them with new and better representatives instead of engaging in endless agitations to close down the National Assembly and debates over alleged “Jumbo” salaries and allowances enjoyed by lawmakers.
Lawan made the bold statement while re-igniting the controversy that has greeted the emoluments of Nigerian lawmakers when he formally declared opened retreat organized for top management staff of the National Assembly in Abuja.
He said rather than dissipating energies on the debate of “Jumbo” pay, the people should concern themselves more with getting value for the money.
Lawan said the calls in some quarters to scrap the National Assembly is misplaced, stressing that Nigerians need to understand the value of the legislature as the bastion of democracy.
Without the National Assembly, Lawan said what Nigeria will be left with will not be democracy anymore.
” So when we always debate on “Jumbo Pay” instead of what should be the functions and hold us responsible for what we are able to do or 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”? he said.
According to Lawan, the current budgetary allocation of the National Assembly put at N125 billion is minute; 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%? he asked.”
This was as the Senate President disclosed that the National Assembly is working assiduously 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 constitution amendment and review of the Electoral Act, 2010 in 2021.
The Senate President also promised that the 9th Assembly will break the jinx around the highly contentious Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, and make sure it is passed in the 2nd Quarter of 2021.
Addressing participants at the retreat; the Clerk to the National Assembly, Ojo Olatunde Amos said the event creates an opportunity for sober reflection on how to change the narratives and make the bureaucracy of the National Assembly more effective and efficient.
Also speaking, the Director-General, National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, NILDS, Abubakar Sulaiman, empathized with the need for greater partnership among the various agencies of the National Assembly.
He said his institute will continue to provide the much-required technical know-how to strengthen the legal and institutional capacity of the National Assembly.