When we juxtapose the imperatival idealism of the Legislative Arm of government in Nigeria, vis-à-vis the preponderances of unenforceable pieces of Acts of Parliament, and needless ambiguity in the literary interpretation of certain provisions of myriads of Bills passed into Law, one cannot but wonder whether we have not missed the underlining/underpinninhg philosophy behind the concept of the State, government, good governance, public accountability and transparency.
As it is at the Federal level, so it is with most of the federating States of the Federal Republic. Rather than a serious attempt at critically examining the pros and cons of the legislative functions, with a view to finding pragmatic solutions to the menace of ineffective legislatures, it is always the case that, each time a session of an Assembly is about to take-off, the first thing to discuss will be the issue of welfare package for bonafide Honourable members; which also points to the fact that the needs and the desires of the people that elected them becomes secondary.
Similarly, periodic elections and the law of possible outcomes presuppose that some older elected men of the Assemblies might not be returned, while newly-elected members will join the Assembly. Legislators are, expectedly, knowledgeable men and women of high and impeccable character.
Legislative function is a very serious business, which requires painstaking rigours and adherence to strict and tested systemic procedural rules and regulations. The Rule of the Thumb seldom applies! Whereas the parliamentary system gives room for an elected representative to go through some training, the presidential system in use in Nigeria does not allow for that. At best, it is assumed that, even a greenhorn already knows what he or she is doing! If the aforementioned situations should subsist, then, where lies the hope for the common man?
It is no longer news that the quality of the leadership of an Assembly determines the quality of its output and this in turn goes a long way to determine the success or otherwise of the government of the day. That said, the great danger; and the most regrettable thing to do is to misalign classical political theories with the reality on ground. It is to have a crisis and waste the crisis! Needless to repeat that the myriads of problems of Nigeria, as they are today, are enough to make all the lawmaking bodies – from the Federal to the states – to work assiduously to come up with pragmatic legislative instruments of remedy such as Bills and Acts of Parliament that can be used to straighten out our Public Administration so that the country can witness advancement, sustainable development and greatness. `
The newly inaugurated 7th Assembly of Osun House of Assembly most certainly understands that they should work round the clock to justify the peoples trust in their character and legislative capabilities. Hence, it chooses to be different, especially, by not relying on the rule of the thumb and crass grandstanding as the Modus Operandi for its legislative engagements. In a classic show of candour and unassailable resolve to deliver good governance, it embarked on a 3-Day Retreat, towards enhancing service delivery through legislative engagement. With this, the eminent members of the Assembly are saying that the era of muddling through Assembly sessions, contributing nothing substantially tangible, but waiting till the next round of general elections, is gone.
That our Honourables are conscious of the enormity of the task of strategically repositioning Osun on the path of Continuity and Consolidation is a huge political capital that is indicative of the leadership quality, maturity and the character-calibre of the people that constituted the Assembly. Thankfully too, the state government has just organized an Economic and Investment Summit, which has now given everybody something to think about. So, the Timothy Owoeye-led Assembly deserves commendation for getting that aspect right!
If we may ask: what are the roles of a knowledge-based Osun legislature to the other arms of government and how can it help, especially, the executive arm in promoting sustainable economic development and growth in the state? How can it choose what it wants to do, set its heart to it and create the advantage so that future generations will inherit a future devoid of selfish whims and inevitable traumatization? If representative democracy is about Development Agenda and Service Delivery, will our lawmakers pass laws that will make the aggregation of peoples needs, political agitation, aspirations and demands the essence of their legislative engagements?
The popular catchphrase is that you dont tell the truth to the man in power! Let the 7th Osun Assembly remember that the representatives are not above the represented – those who surrendered their mandates to give governments legitimate authority to govern. Without doubt, Osun will be better off with very deep and interesting conversations among the relevant arms of government. Thats how nations are run. Thats how Osun ought to be run! What this translates to, in a nutshell, is that the burden of discharge of relevant, functional and quality legislative laws and informed, pragmatic and enforceable Acts of parliament rests squarely on the shoulders of these Honourables.
Therefore, slothful performances and unrepresentative representation of the masses, among others, will show lazy politicians the way out. If they hold the business of governance in high esteem; and are irrevocably committed to the development agenda of the state government, it is, at the minimum, a sure guarantee that the goods of democracy will be delivered to the masses.
From time to time, the executive arm will surely need expedited favours from the State legislature. But, while it is beautiful and desirable for the latter to be in agreeable and collaborative terms with the former, Osun will be better with a House that is impartial, yet critical, a House that always has it at the back of its mind that a Rubber Stamp legislature destroys the fundamental philosophy and essence of popular democracy; that it is not only a cancer that devours efforts in justice, it also deflates new ideas about the thirst for the Rule of Law.
Give it to the government for its achievements in the security of lives and property in the state. But then, the fact that religious bodies are now at the forefront of the payment of ransoms to bandits in parts of the country attests to the fact that security is still a big issue in Nigeria. Against this background therefore, the legislature must work with other arms of government to ensure that the results of governments reforms are made manifest as soon as practicable to ward-off possible unintended consequences. It must also strive to implement the recommendations of this Retreat and allow for feedback loop to inform on the legislative inputs.
The 7th Assembly also has a critical role to play in the formulation of appropriate legislative frameworks that will engender a serious industrial strategy and radical communication approach for the state. It should help in providing a legislative backing that will bring about the transformation that will be appropriate for the people, with the people, and for the people. How I also wish this retreat would help our lawmakers come up with appropriate legislations that will turn the state into an entire package of success by addressing national issues from Osuns perspective?
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Osun.