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Who own those empty seats at the National Assembly?

A few weeks ago, Senator Okorocha from Imo State, advocated that a single senator was enough to represent a state at the senate and that a…

A few weeks ago, Senator Okorocha from Imo State, advocated that a single senator was enough to represent a state at the senate and that a similar thing should be done in the House of Representatives.

When he made the statement, he was almost battered by his colleagues in the senate, but his suggestion was welcomed by many Nigerians.

Honestly speaking, for several years, I have been asking myself, “whose seats are those empty seats at the National Assembly?” Another question that is agitating my mind is. “Do we, in fact have robust debates in those two chambers?”

To me, it appears those in the chambers are in another world entirely in Nigeria, and they have actually proved that on several occasions. The National Assembly is not helping the executive to improve the welfare of the people of this nation. While the executive may want a law to project its programme, it is the duty of the legislators to take into consideration the needs of the public before amending or passing the executive bill as proposed.

The ECOWAS Parliament has appealed to the Federal Government to open its land borders for goods and human traffic. No nation can eat its cake and have it. While the country’s land borders have remain closed and the cost of food stuff have also remain high the National Assembly has increased VAT from 5 percent to 7 percent.

This is like what the young king in the Holy Bible did when he told his countrymen that he would add more burden to the suffering of his people. It appears as if members of the National Assembly are buying from another market not in Nigeria, otherwise they would have known that Nigerians are suffering.

Back to my question, For many years now I have being seeing empty seats in the two chambers of the National Assembly and I have been asking whose seats they are and where the members are?

I have visited several Houses of Assembly especially, in the South West. On those visits most of the state houses recorded nothing less than 95 per cent attendance.

There are no empty seats as we have in the green and red chambers of the National Assembly. The only occasion when the two chambers of the National Assembly are always full is when the president presents his yearly budget. After that, you will always see empty seats on the television.

When I aired my concern about those empty seats in the green and red chambers to a colleague, he defended the legislators by telling me that it was not compulsory that all the members must be on seat at every debate, and that once a quorum was formed, debate must start. The state houses of assemblies are always filled up because the members are fewer in members.

Can the executive tolerate absenteeism in the MDAs as we have in the National Assembly? The ministers are few and the President can easily notice the absence of a particular minister or official.

It appears that Senator Okorocha was speaking the mind of many Nigerians, when he advocated a single senator per state to cut the cost of maintaining our legislators at the National Assembly.

By the way, what is hate speech? We need to define hate speech from constructive criticism of government’s activities and religious hate preaching. If we are not careful, our legislators may drive Nigerians to spring up suddenly like it happened in Tunisia a few months ago. Our National Assembly should watch it.

Dr. Sunday O. Ajai  <[email protected]


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