STATUS AND ROLE OF THE LEGISLATURE IN A DEMOCRACY

A public lecture delivered to mark the 47th Birthday of Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, Esq. on the 27th of July, 2010.

THE STATUS AND ROLE OF THE LEGISLATURE IN A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY BY PROFESSOR ITSE SAGAY, SAN

  1. Supremacy of the Constitution

 

We operate under a Constitutional democracy and the rule of law. This presupposes the existence of a written Constitution which is the supreme overriding law. Thus the very first substantive paragraph of our Constitution states as follows:

“This Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

Then subparagraph 3 of paragraph 1 puts this supremacy beyond any doubt when it states that:

“If any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail, and the other law shall to the extent of the inconsistency be void”.

It is the Constitution that creates the organs of government, determines and delimits the scope of their powers.

With the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law established, a society is ready to embark on the journey into democracy.

  1. The Status of the Legislature in our Democratic System

 

As Nwabueze has noted, the Legislature is the distinctive mark of a country’s sovereignty, the index of its status as a state and the source of much of the power exercised by the executive in the administration of government. The sovereign power of the state is therefore identified in the organ that has power to make laws by Legislation, and to issue “commands” in the form of Legislation binding on the community.

Nwabueze buttressed this argument by pointing out that in our Constitution; the Legislature is dealt with first before the other organs of government. Thus section 4 deals with Legislative powers, section 5 with Executive powers and section 6 with Judicial powers. He however points out that the constitutional primacy of the Legislature is not contradicted by the fact that the head of the Legislature is not the first citizen. For the office of the President (or Governor) is distinct from that of Chief Executive. It is not the Chief Executive who is the first citizen, it is the President or Governor as the case may be; the President, being the Head of State of Nigeria, and by the same token the Governor being the Head of State of his State. It is the President as President who is the first citizen of Nigeria, not the Chief Executive. It is the Governor as Governor that is the first citizen of the State, not because he is the State’s Chief Executive. In other words, the President is the first citizen, not by virtue of being the Chief Executive but by being the Head of State. The same thing applies to the Governor. This is easily appreciated when we consider a system like the British one in which the office of the 1st citizen and Chief Executive are separated. The Queen is the 1st citizen and the Prime Minister is the Chief Executive. In Nigeria, the President and the Governors combine both positions in one person.

It is because these two offices of President and Governor symbolize, incarnate and embody the State itself that they are protected by immunity from arrest, prosecution or civil suits by section 308 of the Constitution. For any indignity inflicted on them is an indignity on the State itself.

This long detour from my discussion of the status of the Legislature is meant to establish the fact that the head of the Legislature, the first arm of government, is made to take his position behind the President or the Governor as the case may be, because of the position of the former as Head of State of Nigeria or Head of State within Nigeria, not because he is Chief Executive. The Legislature is therefore, the number one arm of government in any democratic State.

The current low esteem in which the Legislature, particularly the National Legislature is held, arises, not from lack of legislative primacy, but from its exhibition of negative values and practices, grossly against the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.

  1. Separation of Powers and Democratic Governance

 

Any system of Government based on the Rule of Law and Democracy must consist of three great arms, the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. This division of labour is a condition precedent for the supremacy of the Rule of Law in any society. The doctrine of Separation of Powers advocates the independent exercise of these three governmental or constitutional functions, by different bodies of persons, without interference or control or domination, by one on the other or others.

The doctrine as presently understood is derived from Montesquieu, whose elaborations of it was based on a study of Locke’s writings and an imperfect understanding of the eighteenth Century English Constitution. In his Second Treatise on Civil Government Locke laid the basis of the doctrine of Separation of Powers thus:

“ It may be too great a temptation to human frailty, apt to grab at power, for the same persons who have the power of making laws, to have also in their hands the power to executive them, whereby they made, and suit the law,  both in its making and execution, to their own private advantage”.

Just like Locke, Montesquieu was concerned with the preservation of political liberty and the prevention of oppression and abuse of power. Montesquieu wrote:

“Political Liberty is to be found only when there is no abuse of power. But constant experience shows us that every man invested with power is liable to abuse it, and carry his authority as far as it will go. To prevent this abuse, it is necessary from the nature of things that one power should be a check on another…. When the Legislative and Executive Powers are united in the same person or body… there can be no liberty… Again there is no liberty if the judicial power is not separated from the legislative and executive. There would be an end of everything if the same person or body, whether of the nobles or of the people, were to exercise all three powers”.

The crucial importance of the doctrine of separation of powers is appropriately emphasized in by Professor Ben Nwabueze.

“Concentration of government powers in the hands of one individual is the very definition of dictatorship, and absolute power is by its very nature arbitrary, capricious and despotic. The executive function of government the maintenance of peace, order, the security of the state, the provision of social welfare, etc. has an inherent tendency towards arbitrariness. Its arbitrariness is greatly accentuated and legitimized where the function of law-making is also reposed in the same hands. For it is not just that the repository of the combined power can pass tyrannical laws and then execute them by tyrannically; he can also act arbitrarily in flagrant disregard of the limits of his power and then proceed to legalize his action by retrospective legislation. Government in such a situation is not conducted according to pre-determined rules; it is a government not of lows but of will, a government according to the whims and caprices of the ruler. Limited government demands therefore that the organization of government should be based on some concept of structure, whereby the functions of law-making, execution and adjudication are vested in separate agencies, operating with separate personnel and procedure”.

One point needs to be emphasized. That is that there can be no complete separation of powers in which there is no interaction whatsoever between the three great arms of government. Indeed, they all function or should function by mutual co-operation. It is the executive, for example, that is charged with the enforcement of judicial Orders. The doctrine simply means that the same body or person should not be control of more than one arm.

4.         The Significance of the Legislature in Our Democracy

When referring to democratic governance, whether parliamentary or presidential, the organ of government that captures the mind most as epitomizing the concept is the legislature. For that is the place where the public sees democracy in action, in the form of debates, and consideration of motions, resolutions and bills. The closest politician to the voter is the representative of his constituency in the legislature. During Military regimes, we still see the judiciary and the executive in action. It is the Legislature that is really missing; for a supreme Military Council or Provisional Ruling Council is no different from the Military executive. Thus the most significant phenomenon in a democratic set up is to see the legislature, the Assemblies of the people’s representatives in action.

According to John Sthart Mill, it is the duty of the legislature to “to watch and control the government [executive]; to throw the light of publicity in its acts, to compel a full exposition and justification of all of them which anyone considers questionable.” If effectively discharged, the legislature’s critical function would produce an attitude of responsibility and restraint in the executive, which would oblige it to reckon with the possible reaction of the legislature in framing policies and taking decisions. For the Legislature to play the role effectively its own hands must be clean and its house put in order. A corrupt and self-seeking Legislature will not have the credibility and authority to carryout its role as the watch dog of the people. Currently in this country, it is the press that is playing this role.

5.         Legislative Powers in the 1999 Constitution

The Legislative Powers of the Federation are to be found in section 4, chapter 5, and the legislative lists contained in the second schedule of the 1999 Constitution. There are of course many other provisions giving specific powers to the Legislatures of the country in relation to specific subject matter. For example in relation to the National Assembly alone, new States and Local government areas cannot be created without appropriate Acts being passed by it. By section 252(2) the National Assembly has the power to make provisions conferring more power on the Federal High Court, than it already has. Ministers, Ambassadors, the Chief Justice and Justices of the Supreme Court, cannot be appointed without the approval of Senate. Treaties cannot come into force without an Act of ratification by the Senate. These are but a sample of the specific powers of the National Assembly outside its plenary powers in Section 4, chapter 5, and the two legislative lists.

Section 4(1) specifically confers on the National Assembly, the legislative Powers of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria. Section 4(2) then goes on to declare that the National Assembly shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation, or any part thereof with respect to any matter included in the exclusive legislative list. Section 4(7) confers the same power on State Houses of Assembly with regard to any matter in the prescribed column of the concurrent list, any subject matter specifically assigned to States in the Constitution and any matter not listed in the Constitution, i.e., the residual list.

Since we are now operating under the rule of law and strict separation of powers, where there is doubt or controversy about what constitute ‘peace’ ‘order’ and ‘good governance’ (subject to the political question doctrine) is a matter for judicial interpretation, and such interpretation is final. This supervisory powers of the Courts over the legislature is confirmed in Section 4(8) as follows:

“Save as otherwise provided by this Constitution, the exercise of legislative powers by the National Assembly shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of law and of judicial tribunals established by law and accordingly, the National Assembly or a House of Assembly shall not enact any law, that outs or purports to oust the jurisdiction of a Court of Law or of a judicial tribunal established by law”

It is important to stress that the National Assembly’s powers to make laws for the Peace, Order and Good Government, are limited to matter contained in the Exclusive Legislative List. It cannot be extended as in military dictatorships, to “any part thereof [of Nigeria] with respect to any matter whatsoever.”

According to Professor Nwabueze:

“The phrase “peace, order and good government” does not delimit the purpose for which the power is granted, in the sense that a law must be for peace, order and good government in order to be valid. It is simply, as the judicial Committee of the privy Council has held, a legal formula for expressing the widest plentitude of legislative power exercisable by a sovereign legislature, subject to limitations arising from the division of powers between a central and regional governments in a federal system, such as Nigeria. Thus, the legislative power of the national Assembly in Nigeria is not a power to make law for “peace, order and good government” generally, but a power to make law for “peace, order and good government” with respect only to matters specified in the Constitution. The formula, “peace, order and good government”, which is also used by the Constitution to define the legislative power of the State Houses of Assembly, confers no inherent power on the National Assembly to legislate outside the matters so specified as being within its legislative competence.

In A-G Abia State V. A-G of the Federation and others, the case concerning the defective Electoral Act of 2001, the Solicitor General of the Federation made a claim pf sweeping legislative powers on behalf of the National Assembly, namely, that the National Assembly has the power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Nigeria on any subject matter whatsoever, in any part of Nigeria. This was rejected by the Supreme Court which held that the National Assembly’s powers to have laws for the Peace, Order and Good Government of Nigeria, were limited to subjects included in the Exclusive Legislative list. As powers over local governments are conferred on States under section 7 of the Constitution, the National Assembly could   not pass any to extend the tenure of elected local government officials. That was within the exclusive competence of the States Houses of Assembly.

6.         Some Functions of the Legislature

 

(i)         Oversight Functions

The Legislature’s Oversight Powers are contained in Section 82-89 with regard to the National Assembly, and 120-128 with regard to the State Houses of Assembly. The following discussion applies equally to the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly.

The identical provisions state as follows:

“88. (1) Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, each Houses of the National Assembly shall have power by resolution published in its journal or in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation to direct or cause to be directed an investigation into

(a)                any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make law; and

(b)               the conduct of affairs of any person, authority Ministry or Government department charged, or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for-

(i)                  executing or administering laws enacted b y the National Assembly, and

(ii)                disbursing or administering moneys appropriated or to be appropriated by the national Assembly.

(2)   The powers conferred on the National Assembly under the provisions of this section are exercisable only for the purpose of enabling it to-

(a)    make laws with respect to any matter within its legislative competence correct any defects in existing laws; and

(b)   expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it.

Thus under section 88 of the Constitution, each House of the National Assembly is empowered to direct or cause to be directed, an investigation into any matter in respect to which it has power to make laws. This means that it has the general power to cause an investigation or enquiry into any of the 68 subject in part 1 of the second Schedule, i.e., the Executive Legislative List. In addition to this general power, it can investigate the conduct of any person, authority, ministry, or government department, charged or intended to be charged with the duty or responsibility for (i) executing or administering laws enacted by the National Assembly and (ii) disbursing or administering moneys appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly.

The first part of this power of investigation, the general part, involving an investigation into any of the 68 subjects in the Exclusive List is unqualified. However, with regard to the second part in which the investigation is targeted at the conduct of public officers and institutions, such an officer or institution must be one (i) charged with or intended to be charged with the duty of executing or administering laws enacted by the National Assembly and (ii) in the process must have or will disburse moneys appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly. In other words, with regard to the investigation of public officers and institutions, the critical factor, triggering the exercise of legislative investigative powers is disbursement of funds, appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly.

These powers are not intended to be used exclusively for punitive purposes or for the exposure of misappropriation, fraud or corruption. They are also intended to assist the National Assembly to carry out its responsibilities more effectively and efficiently, although in the process misdeeds like frauds and corruption might be exposed.

Thus sub-section (2) of section 88 clearly states that these powers are exercisable for the purpose of enabling the Legislature to make laws with regard to matters within its competence and expose corruption, inefficiency, waste, in the execution or administration of laws within its  competence.

The fact that under section 88(1) the conduct of persons intended to be charged with the responsibility for executing or administering laws and disbursing public funds can be investigated, establishes conclusively that the Legislators, powers under the constitution, are both reactive and proactive (preventive).  Persons and institutions intended to be charged with such functions involving the disbursements of public funds can be investigated in advance in order to determine whether they are fit to exercise such powers.

In order to guarantee the effective exercise of these extensive powers, legislators are empowered (89 Federal and 129 States) not only to procure evidence, whether written or oral, direct or circumstantial, but also to compel the attendance of witnesses, under oath or otherwise. Any person who fails to appear to give evidence after being summoned to do so or to produce a document or other thing in his possession or control, can be compelled to appear before the appropriate committee by warrant issued by the Legislature to be served or executed by a Police Officer or any other person authorized by the President of the Senate, or in the appropriate cases, by the Speaker of the House of Representatives or of a State House of Assembly.

Failure to obey a summons could result in a fine being imposed on the person, provided this sanction has already been prescribed in the standing orders of the particular Legislature involved. Failure to pay such a fine could result in imprisonment since the fine is given the same status as a fine imposed by a court under the Constitution.

Before exercising its powers of investigation, a Legislative House is obliged to (i) pass a resolution which must be published in the official Gazette of the relevant Government or in the journal of the House, if it has one.

The outcome of any investigation is the publication of a report which is laid before the House and subjected to debate. At the end of the debate, actions are taken by resolution on matters in which the House can take appropriate action, and recommendations made, also by resolution to, appropriate bodies and institutions, e.g., the ministry of Justice and the Police, the Presidency, or Ministries of Government, for appropriate action.

(iii)               Control  and Supervision of the Budget

The Budget approval process is also another major source and basis for the oversight functions of the legislature. Thus sections 80 and 81 (National Assembly) and 120 121 (State House of Assembly) provide ass follows:

“80. (1) All revenues or other moneys raised or received by the Federation (not being revenues or other moneys payable under this Constitution or any Act of the National

Assembly into any other public fund of the Federation established for specific purpose) shall be paid into and form one Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.

(2)   No moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation except to meet expenditure that is charged upon the fund by this Constitution or where the issue of those moneys had been authorized by an Appropriation Act, Supplementary Appropriation Act an Act passed in pursuance of section 81 of this Constitution.

(3)   No moneys shall be withdrawn from any fund of the Federation, other than the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, unless the issue of those moneys has been authorized by an Act of the National Assembly.

(4)   No moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.

81(1)          The President shall cause to be prepared and laid before each House of the National Assembly at any time in each financial year estimates of the revenues and expenditure of the Federation for the next following financial year.

(2)   The heads of expenditure contained in the estimates (other than expenditure charged upon the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation by this Constitution) shall be included in a bill, to be known as an Appropriation Bill, providing for the issue from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the sums necessary to meet that expenditure and the appropriation of those sums for the purpose specified therein”.

The power and authority of the Legislature in the approval and control of the budget is very clear in these passages. No money can be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation or of a State without the approval of the relevant House.

Amaze Guobadia presents the situation accurately when she states as follows:

“Of particular importance is the legislature’s role in respect of the budget and appropriations. The Appropriation Bill is the basis of the Executive’s plans for the running of government within the relevant fiscal year. The Constitution provides that the budget must be considered by the legislature and the appropriation bill passed before money can be withdrawn from the relevant funds to run government”.

“What does a legislature actually do with its power over appropriations? Can it give conditions and place limitation on spending and how funds are to be used (such as details on what may be spent under specific items e.g. travel, purchase of cars and general spending under different heads)? After all, the Constitution provides that the estimates and heads of expenditure for the financial year shall be included in the Appropriation Bill laid before the legislature. Can the legislature introduce issues outside the subject under consideration in the Appropriation bill presented to it?

The answer to the above questions is yes in all respects, with the exception of the introduction of matters or issues outside those contained in the appropriation bill presented to the House. The Constitution makes it clear that the initiative for the preparation and presentation of the appropriation bill is that of the President or a Governor. It is he as the executive, who will execute and administer the contents of the budget and not the National Assembly or State House of Assembly as the case may be. Nothing however prevents consultation between the Legislature and the Executive on the contents of an appropriation bill. The importance attached by the Legislature over its role in budgetary matters was demonstrated by the fact that non-implementation of the budget was a major ground for the proposed impeachment of the President in 2003.

7.         Audit of Public Accounts

The Constitution provides for the appointment of an Auditor General for both States and the Federal Government. The Auditor-General’s appointment by the President or Governor is subject to the confirmation of the Legislature. He has powers to conduct the audit of the public accounts of the Federation and all offices and courts of the Federation (Federal) and the public accounts and all offices of a State (States). The Auditor-General is given access to all books, records, returns and other documents relating to accounts and he has power to conduct periodic check on all government statutory corporations, commissions, authorities, agencies, etc

The annual report of the Auditor-General must be placed before the relevant House which then sends it to be considered by the committee of the House responsible for public accounts. In the exercise of its powers the Auditor-General is not subject to the direction or control of any authority or person.

The report of the Auditor-General is a potent source for the exercise of the investigative powers of the Legislature.

8.         Negative Values and Breach of Public Trust

 

The Legislature in any democratic system of government is supposed to be the watch dog of the people against the authoritarian and indeed predatory tendencies of the executive, which is the most powerful arm of government, given its capacity to control and deploy state funds and coercive forces. The legislature is supposed to check these tendencies and to generally operate to protect the interest of the people. They are supposed to be the grass-roots arm of government.

But this has not been the case. On the contrary, at least at the national level, the legislature has jettisoned the interest of the nation for self interest. Instead off serving the people of this country, they are engaged in the pursuit of self-interest, to a degree that can only be regarded as shocking. This can be demonstrated by a quick examination of legislative activity at the national level with regard to self-awarded salaries and allowances.

1.         Legislative Salaries and Allowances

 

Inspite of the dismal standard of living, poverty of the country and low income per capita of Nigeria, Nigerian Legislators in Abuja, have awarded themselves the highest salaries and allowances in the world. In other words, the Nigerian law makers in Abuja are the highest paid in the world.

In 2009, a Senator earned N240,000.00 in salaries and allowances, whilst his House of Representative Counter-part earned N203,760,000.00. in other words, a Senator earned about $1.7 Million, and a member of the House of Representative earned $1.45 Million, per annum. By contrast, an American Senator earned $174,000.00 and a U.K. Parliamentarian earned about $64,000 US, per annum. The cruel anomaly of the situation is revealed when the income per capita of these countries is juxtaposed with their Parliamentary pay as follows:

COUNTRY INCOME PER CAPITA LEGISLATOR’S PAY
 

U.S.A

U.K

NIGERIA

 

$46,350.00

$35,468.00

$2,249.00

 

$174,000.00

$64,000.00

$1.700,000.00

 

In 2009, the Federal legislators received a total of N102.8 billion comprising N11.8 billion as salaries and N90.96 billion (non-taxable) as allowances. Is the tax payer getting value for this colossal sum in the current democratic dispensation? Should 5% of Nigeria’s annual budget be spent on 109 Senators and 360 House of Representative members? In other words, should 469 Nigerians gulp 5% of our Budget leaving the remaining 150 million of us to receive about N1000 each?

President Obama, President of the richest country in the world earns $400,000 per annum. The British Prime Minister earns 190,000 Pounds. A Senator, in Nigeria, one of the poorest countries in the world, earns $1,700,000 per annum. It is absurd. It is, as someone has collected it, “a feeding frenzy”

The Senator President is reported to be earning N250, million quarterly or N83.33 Million per month, whilst his deputy earns N50 million per month. The Senate has allocated N1, 024,000,000 as quarterly allowance to its 10 principal officers, known collectively as Senate leadership. Each of the other principal officers earns N78 million every three months or N26 million per month.

This tragic state of affairs is clearly unsustainable. Those engaged in this feeding frenzy are endangering our democracy.

9.         Constitutional Amendments

 

There isn’t enough time in this short address to discuss the detailed activities of the National Assembly. I shall therefore limit myself to just one which is of current relevance, namely, constitutional amendment or alterations.

Provision is made under section 9 of the Constitution for the alteration or amendment of the Constitution. We are not here concerned with the procedure, but with the substance of the actual amendments proposed by the National Assembly. The proposed amendments included the following selected few.

1.         Amendment of section 121 (3) to give State Houses of Assembly financial independence from the Executive arm of government, by making the funds of the Houses of Assembly a first line charge on the consolidated revenue. Surprisingly, this provision was rejected by 16 State Houses of Assembly who apparently, rejected financial independence, thereby undermining the doctrine of the separation of powers. It is no surprise that Lagos is not one of them. Curiously, the State Houses of Assembly approved the amendment of section 81 (3) of the Constitution to grant financial autonomy (which they had rejected for themselves) to the national Assembly.

2.         A proposed amendment of section 65 seeking to raise the relevant legislature.

These are but a mere sample out of about 41 amendments. Obviously, some of these proposed amendments or alterations of the Constitution are beneficial to the health of the polity, whilst others are either irrelevant or even toxic. But main grievance with the whole constitutional amendment exercise is the glaring failure to address the crucial issue of true federalism. Our National Assembly has not deemed it fit, to transfer the establishment of Police forces, Census, Electricity generation, Labour Matters, Minimum wage, establishing transport by rail, etc, to the concurrent least to enable State establish police forces generate electricity, conduct State census for their domestic purposes, determine a minimum wage for workers based on their resources, etc.

Another critical area the National Assembly should have looked is the issue of creation of local governments. They ought to have proposed the complete removal of local government areas from the Constitution, and the elimination of section 8(5) and (6) to make local governments completely a State matter.

Finally section 44(3) of the Constitution which denies the people of the petroleum producing areas, their right to property should have been listed for deletion from the Constitution, and fiscal federalism put in place of the begging bowl federalism we are presently practicing. You know of course that once every month State Commissioners of Finance carry their individual begging bowls to Abuja, for Mr. Babalola, the Minister of State for Finance to drop in their monthly stipends. They then head back to their State capitals to await the return journey the following month. This is clearly an institutionalized Almajiri system.

The resources being doled out monthly by Abuja are generated by the States. Why can’t States keep what they generate and instead contribute a fixed percentage of their earnings to the center for its operations and another percentage to a distributable pool for the less endowed States. Why should Lagos not administer Value Added Tax to cater for the teeming millions that keep rushing into the State monthly and thus putting tremendous pressure on the State’s social services?

In my view, the real work on the amendment or alteration of the Constitution is yet to be commenced. From all indications such work will not be undertaken by the present National Assembly. It will be the task of a future one.

10. Conclusion

In the long term, the most important function of the legislature is the enactment of enlightened laws for the benefit of the populace and the general function of criticism, and scrutiny of executive policies and decisions. The openness of parliamentary proceedings, the transparency of all its processes, the availability of its records and debates to researchers and members of the public, all help to establish a healthy culture of democratic governance.

The greatest authority which a legislature wields in a democratic society is not its legal powers as contained in the Constitution, but its moral authority, as the conscience of the nation and protector of the sovereignty of the people. Thus members of the legislature must be men and women of high moral authority and integrity.

Equipped with such authority, a mere resolution of an Assembly could be more effective than a binding law.

This means that the legislature must suspend from their membership, anyone who by his conducts, past or present, tarnishes the image of the Assembly, or puts its credibility in doubt. If the legislature is to hold the executive to a minimum standard of accountability, transparency and honesty, it must itself purify its own systems, processes and membership. Otherwise no one will take it seriously.

For any legislature to successfully perform its role in a democratic system, its members must be empowered to do so. In order to equip our legislators to function effectively, it is essential that they be provided with professional assistance on the (i) formulation, drafting and promotion of private bills. (ii) interpretation and analysis of government bills, particularly the more technical ones on the budget, taxation, scientific matters (iii) establishing a parliamentary think tank which will provide members of the Assemblies with up to date data and analysis on relevant issues, (iv) the running of continuous seminars, workshops on major issues of national and international importance, and on the Law, practice and procedure of the legislature.

It is also important that provisions should be made for all legislators to have constituency offices, which will be open at all times even at weekends. This will enable the voters in that constituency to see their representative, when he is in the constituency, or to speak to his staff, when he is away in the relevant Assembly.

But beyond all this, the most important asset of any legislative body is the integrity of its members and their determination to provide selfless service to the Nation.

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9 Responses to “STATUS AND ROLE OF THE LEGISLATURE IN A DEMOCRACY”

  1. Omorinsola Says:

    this is way too long

  2. CHUKS Says:

    CAN I USE THIS FOR MY PROJECT PLS?

    • arinze198 Says:

      You can as long as you quote the source ok

      Sent: Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 4:27 PM From: arixty <comment-reply@wordpress.com> To: arinze198@usa.com Subject: [arixty] Comment: "STATUS AND ROLE OF THE LEGISLATURE IN A DEMOCRACY"

  3. Jane Israel Says:

    The Research Is Nice……. It Saw Me Through My Doubts.

  4. Barth Says:

    Thanks for enlighten Nigerian Gos bless you so much

  5. arthur Says:

    This is too reach and good to be ignored! Nice work

  6. nureto22 Says:

    happy democracy day to you all

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