Pulse lists 10 discouraging moments the National Assembly failed Nigerians in 2016.
A few achievements but nonetheless, 2016 will go down in history as one year in which most Nigerians lost it with the National Assembly given the drama, actions and inactions of our lawmakers.
Pulse lists 10 most disappointing times the National Assembly failed Nigerians.
1. Missing Budget
For the first time in history, Nigeria's national budget went missing from the premises of the National Assembly! What could be more embarrassing for a country than for her appropriation bill to 'disappear'? Who stole (sorry, moved) the budget? When? Why? To where?
No one has been able to answer these questions. The blame game between the presidency and the National Assembly as regards the missing document did not do Nigerians any good either.
2. Budget Padding
Just when Nigerians thought it was over with the missing budget saga, the National Assembly (courtesy of Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin) introduced a new word from their vocabulary to us called budget 'padding'.
Apparently, the word "padding" according to Jibrin was used to describe the "illegal addition of projects and monies to the budget" by our elected representatives. These monies then find their way into the private pockets of some lawmakers. Interesting, isn't it?
Nigerians began to ask questions like; how long has this been going on? With the huge salaries and allowances, these lawmakers get, why the need to "pad" the budget which the federal government (most times) borrow to fund?
Although the House of Representatives where the news broke has continually denied the act, Nigerians were shocked when Speaker Yakubu Dogara said budget padding was not an offence. Really? Then what is it?
3. Dino Melaye and Remi Tinubu saga
Senator Dino Melaye and wife of APC national leader, Remi Tinubu were in the news for all the wrong reasons. Melaye had threatened to beat up and impregnate Mrs Tinubu on the floor of the National Assembly (of all places).
Senator Melaye, while trying to clear the mess said Mrs Tinubu had arrived menopause and so she could no longer get pregnant. Not to bore you with the story but in the end, Senator Melaye wasn’t penalised. And yes, he is still representing the good people of Kogi West Senatorial district in the Upper Chamber.
4. Purchase of new cars despite recession
Despite Nigeria's economic recession, the House of Representatives took delivery of 28 Peugeot 508 cars for their oversight functions. These vehicles are part of the first batch of 50 official cars meant for the members. Really?
There is hunger in the land. Peoples' pots of food get missing while still on fire, others exchanging their kids for bags of rice and all our elected representatives can do is buy exotic cars?
The National Assembly reportedly buys cars every term for oversights, so where do these cars go after the expiration of their tenures? How many times do these lawmakers go for oversight functions? These lawmakers who tell us about "Buy Naija to grow the Naira" aren't even patriotic. What happened to Innoson Motors if they must buy new cars?
5. "Obasanjo is the grandfather of corruption"
Nigerians are yet to understand former president Olusegun Obasanjo's perceived aggression with the National Assembly.
Apparently, Obasanjo had accused the National Assembly of corruption following the "revelations" by Jibrin. In an epic clap-back, Abdulrazak Namaz, Reps spokesman called Obasanjo the grandfather of corruption among other things. Was all that necessary?
Nigerians were entertained by the drama but a major question which our lawmakers are yet to answer is; if Obasanjo is the grandfather of corruption, who are the grandchildren of corruption? Your guess is as good as mine.
6. Constituency projects
Constituency projects are development programmes recommended by members of the National Assembly for implementation in their constituencies. It is financed through special allocation included in government budget annually.
With the billions allocated for "constituency projects," every local government in Nigeria should look like New York, but NO!
Nigerians are disappointed at the fact that there are no projects in our constituencies commensurate with the N100 million in 2014 and N40 million in 2015 allocated in the budget for that purpose.
Going forward, constituency projects should go beyond distributing a few motorcycles, sewing and grinding machines to Nigerians who die daily from waterborne diseases because their only source of water is the nearby river or stream.
7. Saraki and his 81-Senator entourage to the CCT
Senate President Bukola Saraki has been facing a 16-count charge bordering on corruption and false declaration of assets at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). We were disappointed to see a good number of lawmakers (led by Senator Dino Melaye), neglect their lawmaking duties to accompany Saraki to his trial, time and again. At some point, it felt like over 50% of the lawmakers in the Senate had cases at the CCT.
After the long trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki at the CCT and the drama with the chairman, Danladi Umar, our elected representatives in the National Assembly decided to suspend all activities to fast-track the amendment of vital parts of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) Act.
Although the National Assembly said the CCT amendment was not motivated by Senator Saraki's trial, Nigerians saw the move as a quick measure to save the Senate President and other lawmakers from the "harassment" of going to the CCT.
8. Jibrin's suspension
Soon after Jibrin spilled the beans, he was suspended from the House of Representatives for 180 legislative days for breaching members’ privileges. This came after he was removed as appropriation committee chairman.
Although most Nigerians said Jibrin only spoke due to "the change of music," others thought that the House would set up a committee to investigate his claims. But no, they failed to see things from our eyes and that led to a disaster.
More surprising was the fact that lawmakers who had signed a petition for the impeachment of Speaker Dogara during recess, turned against Jibrin after the House resumed from its six weeks break.
Like a wounded lion, Jibrin took to the media (social and broadcast) dropping bars upon bars and punchlines.
Jibrin, now an accidental whistle-blower, has taken his "fight against corruption" in the country beyond the shores of Nigeria.
Well, that is yet to get Speaker Dogara and other accused lawmakers a space at Kuje Prisons.
The House which failed to investigate the padding scandal recently invited Jibrin to come defend his alleged ownership of five foreign accounts. Why not look at the root cause of all these - budget padding?
9. Non-passage of the PIB
For the sixteenth year, the National Assembly has failed to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law. The PIB will provide the necessary framework needed for the creation, sustainability, commercially-oriented and profit-driven entities in the petroleum industry.
The PIB would also improve the local content and open up the oil sector especially to indigenous participation. Jobs will be created in the long run and our economy may likely receive a much needed boost. But the PIB has been dumped while other less important ones are being passed.
10. Sharia Bill / Church Bill
When will our lawmakers realise that some of the bills they sit to debate daily, weekly, monthly are totally irrelevant? Do we really need these bills at the moment? These bills which have scaled through second reading are unnecessary at the moment given the tension that comes with religious issues in Nigeria.
In the coming years, Nigerians look forward to the passage of more bills that would address national problems such as unemployment, security and the current economic recession.