Godswill Akpabio, President of the Senate, has labelled Nigeria’s legislature as the least understood instrument of government, claiming that the body has always been the target of insults and derision.
He spoke at the 100th birthday colloquium honouring Senator Kunle Oyero, a member of the Senate in the Second Republic who represents Ogun Central.
The colloquium themed “Legislation in Nigeria: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” was organised by the Abeokuta Grammar School Old Boys’ Association (AGSOBA) and held in Abeokuta.
The panel discussion was moderated by Dr Reuben Abati, a veteran journalist and former Presidential Spokesman, and featured Chief Akin Delano, SAN, Prof Idowu Adegbite, Prof Ademola Araoye, and Prof Oluwole Akinbode as discussants.
Akpabio represented by the Ogun Central Senator, Shuaib Afolabi Salis, in his remark, stated that many Nigerians do not see the legislature as necessary, adding that if there was legislature in place in 2007, the country would have since had a life president.
“The one arm of government that people don’t really understand and it’s always a subject of ridicule and attack is the legislature. In fact, people sometimes don’t think the legislature is doing anything at all.
“But picture a situation where there was no legislature in 2007, there would have been a life president in Nigeria. Picture a situation in Nigeria where there was no legislature, a number of things would have gone wrong in Nigeria.
“Because people don’t understand the legislature, there is also a problem. Like someone puts it, Legislators are sometimes the victim of the system.
“I gave Dr Reuben Abati (a moderator at the event) a few examples. In the ninth legislature, there were some senators that even from afar, you could say they were doing what senators should do. They were moving motions, sponsoring bills and making the right interventions.
“In the chamber, roles of the legislature are three: making laws, oversight function and appropriation. Most of those senators were doing those things, but guess what? None of them returned back. This is because the metric of measuring the performance (of senators) by the people who vote is different from what the syllabus dictates.
“The syllabus will say as a legislator your role is to make law, perform oversight and make appropriation, those are the three things a legislator is expected to do. But any senator, any member of the National Assembly that confines himself to that will not get a return ticket even in his party.
“… because the metric of measuring the performance of legislators is the number of transformers…’Distinguished Senator, my wife has put to bed, ‘Distinguished Senator, my mother-in-law is dead’, ‘Distinguished Senator, I want to do a freedom ceremony from my apprenticeship,” among other requests are those of the things that people who truly vote, measure your performances with.”
Fearing that the privileged have given the power to vote to people “who do not understand the choices before them,” he expressed concern and urged them to be actively involved in the electoral process.
Akpabio characterized Oyero as the last surviving legend in the Nigerian Senate and told him that the Red Chamber would continue to follow in his footsteps.
The colloquium, according to AGSOBA Global President Sunday Oduntan, was intended to honour Oyero while he was still alive and described him as a gift to both the university and Nigeria.
Oduntan also unveiled planned construction of a bridge named “Senator Kunle Oyero Bridge”, in honour of the celebrant.
In order to improve Nigeria, the event’s chairman, Senator Femi Okunrounmu, urged the nation’s current legislators to imitate Oyero’s characteristics.
“The Senate of Senator Kunle Oyero’s days jealously guarded the principles of separation of powers between the executive and the legislature and would not tolerate any form of executive interference in matters that were constitutionally the province of the legislature.
“Many, like Senator Kunle Oyero, served with honour and integrity, with the welfare of their constituents and indeed, of the nation, foremost in their consciousness. They saw their primary duty as serving the people without counting the cost.
“It is my hope that many of our youths today, particularly those aspiring to enter politics, will take a cue from and seek to uphold the legacy which our celebrant of today has so honourably bequeathed to them. If they do, Nigeria can yet rise again!,” the elder statesman added.