Fred Itua, Paulinus Aidoghie, Ndubuisi Orji and Okwe Obi, Abuja
Few days after both chambers of the ninth National Assembly marked its one anniversary, leaders, stakeholders and political parties have continued to express divergent views on the performance of the lawmakers.
Former President of the Senate and Secretary, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees (BoT), Adolphus Wabara, in his evaluation faulted the endless approval of loans for the executive.
Wabara said besides approval of too many loans, the ninth National Assembly had not done much in terms of oversight function to ensure the loans are used for what they were intended for.
He also expressed dismay that the South East was excluded from the the $22.7 billion loan, which was said to be for the execution of critical projects in the country.
He, however, commend the opposition particularly in the Senate saying “they’ve done very well to keep the executive and to some extent, the National Assembly in check.
“There was a time when the opposition in the Senate called for the resignation of the president. That was very apt; very courageous. That was very bold,” he said.
Third Republic President of the Senate, Ameh Ebute, warned the National Assembly, particularly the Senate, not to act as stooge to the executive.
“While I congratulate them for moving smoothly with the executive, they should be on the watch out to make sure that they are not labelled as stooges of the executive or rubber stamps,” Ebute said.
He further said that having a cordial relationship with the executive did not translate to the upper chamber not disagreeing with them if it had grounds to do so. He said when confrontation between the legislature and executive becomes unbearable, it hampers the movement of government.
He also was not opposed to the way senators were approving the president’s nominees and cooperating with the executive.
On his part, former member of House of Representatives and Minister, Housing and Urban Development, Nduese Essien, described the current assembly as an extension of the executive.
He said the recruitment process of current leaders of the two chambers was a major source of concern. He alleged that some lawmakers cannot speak on the floor without securing permission from their sponsors.
“They have to take a permission first from their sponsors. The morale is very low and this is bad for us. We also have a situation where the National Assembly doesn’t challenge anything the executive does. This has never happened before. We need a National Assembly that works for the people,” he said.
The Social Democratic Party (SDP) has also lambasted the National Assembly for doing the biddings of the executive without putting the interest of Nigerians first, unlike the eighth Assembly. It specifically knocked the Senate for consistently approving loan requests, which it said would hurt the economy of the country in the nearest future.
SDP National Publicity, Alfa Mohammed, said lawmakers should emulate the eighth National Assembly under the leadership of Bukola Saraki.
“Judging from the ease and speed with which the ninth Assembly approves various requests from the executive, some without public hearing or serious debate, it will not be out of place to accuse the ninth assembly of acting more like an agency of the executive and abandoning its role as an independent tier of government required to function as a check on the executive’s excesses.
“The unrestrained approvals being granted to the executive for foreign loans by the ninth Assembly is disappointing. They need to be reminded that their traditional role is to guide and constitute a watch dog on the executive instead of playing the good boys and girls.
Their inability to make the executive stand up and work makes them accomplice in the executive failures being experienced. These loans are not in the interest of Nigerians. It has refused to act as a balance compared to the last set under the leadership of Senator Bukola Saraki, in which most of the issues were considered on their merits,” he said.