Kwara Speaker expressed his views on whether the state of House of Assemblies are rubber stamp of the Executive
If the truth must be said, it is true to a large extent that most of the Houses of Assembly are rubber stamps to the executive. We have seen it and that posture is not good. That is where we are in Nigeria today. Sometimes, when you look at these state Assemblies, you believe that the legislators are just wasting time and functionally, they are not doing what the constitution expects from them.
But in Kwara, we do not have a single opposition member, so there could be a reason for complacency. But we have not been a rubber stamp to the executive arm of government though we are cooperative for the overall development of our state.
About a year ago, the executive wanted to go to the Capital Market to borrow about N7bn, but we stopped it. Now, they have gone back to restructure the state’s tax collecting system which is good for us. I will not say the governor, but a cabal within the executive was issuing licences to filling stations indiscriminately; we stopped that as well. That is leading us to re-jig the whole town planning laws of the state.
Another typical example is the 2017 budget. The executive wanted N33m for the Agric sector, but we raised it to N6.7bn. Kwara State is one of the few places that members are now bringing private member bills. But in some other states, the House will just wait for the executive to bring bills. In Nigeria, it appears we do not know what we want. When we have a robust National Assembly, Nigerians are complaining. If state Assemblies should mirror what the National Assembly is doing, that is when we will have more dividends of democracy.
Presently, governors are not only chief executives, they are kings in Nigeria. Governors have subsumed the whole powers of government to themselves. In many states, checks and balances appear to be non-existent, but in the National Assembly where it exists, some Nigerians are complaining. There is information that other West African countries are looking up to Nigeria for a good model of democracy.
Because some people don’t like those at the helms of affairs in the National Assembly, they keep criticising them for upholding the tenets of checks and balances. They will come and go, but the National Assembly will remain. So, states should borrow a leaf from what the National Assembly is doing. State Houses of Assembly should be independent. The amendment we are trying to do on giving financial autonomy to the legislature is part of it, but not all.