The last time I checked, several legislative councils at various quarters across the contemporary Nigerian society had in one occasion or the other violated or broken the law which they are bound to safeguard. The most popular phenomenon in this regard is impeachment saga, which has abruptly become the order of the day in the country’s political terrain.
Currently, one would hardly wake in the morning without hearing that a certain state assembly speaker alongside other principal officers of the House is about to be impeached, or has already been impeached, probably for a frivolous or selfish purpose. Similarly, sometimes you would hear that a particular deputy governor or even a governor is passing through suchlike fate or ordeal in the hands of the lawmakers. This uncultured practice has continued unabated that most concerned activists or Nigerians in general have wondered if the so-called impeachment took place during the midnight at one of the lawmakers’ abode.
The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, likewise the laws of the various states, categorically stipulates the procedure through which any intending impeachment could be actualized, but it’s very baffling that most of these legislators would wake one morning to inform the general public that they had ‘successfully’ impeached their speaker. Funnily enough, the clerk of the affected house would welcome or assent to such unconstitutional and nauseous conduct, thus agree to swear-in other principal officers who claimed to have taken over the leadership of the assembly.
The most recent of these were the ones that transpired in Kogi and Edo States, respectively. Pitiably, like what happened in Enugu State barely few years ago in the case of the former deputy governor of the state – Mr Sunday Onyebuchi, the judiciary, owing to prolonged delay in prosecution, would only reverse such act after the tenure of the affected politician or officer has elapsed. Then in such situation, the aggrieved person would only be entitled to compensation as regards the inconveniences and damages caused his/her person; even, in most cases, the compensation as pronounced by the judiciary would be far-fetched.
This implies that there’s a compelling need to strengthen the country’s judiciary in its entirety. There ought to be duration for any given prosecution irrespective of the circumstance. The prosecution of a certain lawsuit should be meant to constitutionally last within a stipulated period of time. Such approach would tremendously help to save people from unsolicited prolonged wait during any prosecution.
Aside impeachment, sometimes you would observe the lawmakers acting funny such as dodging a certain plenary, indulgence in a fracas, creation of inconsequential factions, and what have you, among other forms of contempt of a legislative council. Such incident was witnessed recently in the Nasarawa State House of Assembly. For crying out very loud; the legislature, which is widely regarded as the backbone of any democratic system, is supposed to fiercely protect the laws of the society in question instead of breaking them or doing otherwise.
A legislature is the lawmaking body of a political unit that has power to amend and repeal public policies. It’s an assembly of persons that makes statutory laws for a municipality, state, or nation, as the case may be. A legislature is well respected in any country where it exists because it creates a complex interaction between its individual members, committees, political parties, rules of parliamentary procedure, and informal norms, among others
A legislature is the embodiment of the doctrine of popular sovereignty, which recognizes that the people are the source of all political powers. In advanced democracies, citizens choose via popular votes the persons that would serve them as their legislators or representatives because they understand the sensitive nature of a legislator’s responsibilities. The representatives are expected to be sensitive to the needs of their constituents and to represent their common interest in the legislature, thus they need to take cognizance of the people’s feelings regarding any action they intend to carry out.
In view of these facts, the legislators, either state or federal, who are expected to control, criticize, supervise and scrutinize the administration or activities of the executive as well as influence the policies of the government aren’t meant to indulge in any thought, action or inaction that would attract public criticism or condemnation regardless of the circumstance.
We need to wake up from our slumbers. It’s high time we told ourselves nothing but the gospel truth. Our democracy has suffered an untold hardship because we refuse to face the reality; the reality remains that every democratic state must be guided or controlled by the language of the constitution. The rule of law must be observed as a priority, hence shouldn’t be maltreated by anyone in a position of authority.
At this juncture, I have just a question for our teeming lawmakers: why would you attempt to break what you took your precious time to make, rather than safeguarding it? Think about it!
Comr Nwaozor is head of Centre for Counselling, Research & Career Development, Owerri, Imo State