By Hassan A. Nguru
One of the endless discussions on Nigeria’s cyberspace and across the media is; if it is worth it, for Nigeria to maintain upper and lower chambers of the legislature. As a democracy, doing away with the legislature is out of the question. But the at the centre of these debates is the fact that many tend to assume that, Nigeria can do without the lawmakers. This line of argument is born out of frustration with the system and the many failures of governance. Some of these arguments may have elements of validity, but the bottom line is that, despite everything, the legislature adds value to governance and make the difference, in cases where little or no attention is paid. Some lawmakers may not be living up to expectations but that doesn’t mean the baby should be thrown with the bathwater.
From 1999 to 2005, Nigeria’s National Assembly was the palace of scandals and endless fights over who leads. At a point, it was as if, Nigerians are treated to one drama a day. Then came the period of endless crisis of the frequent raucous disagreements between the legislature and the executive arm of government. It was Nigerians that paid the price of such a crisis. In some cases, budgets were unnecessarily delayed, and nominations marred by politics and battle of influence between the executive and the legislature. Since the inauguration of the 9th senate, it has taken a new path of mutual relationship between the two arms of government. So what values can a mutual relationship between the legislature and the executive bring the nation? What kind of impact does a lawmaker make towards improving the lives of the people he/she represents? What are the potential areas of improvement that can make governance work for the good of the people?
Since his election as the President of the 9th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Senator Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North) has been leading the affairs of the upper chamber of the National Assembly; with an approach that facilitates mutual respect between the legislature and the executive. He is leading by firmly protecting the independence of the legislature and putting Nigeria and Nigerians first – in everything. His leadership, so far, shows the evolution of the Nigerian legislature; carrying out its constitutional duties without acrimony or unnecessary drama. This is a remarkable achievement because it has brought the stability and harmony that are key to making governance work for Nigerians. On Monday 21 December the Senate passed the 2021 budget, on time. With this, on its part, the senate had delivered its constitutional responsibility of appropriation for the good of the people of Nigeria. The buck now stops on the table of the executive.
The ninth senate under the leadership of Senator Ahmad Lawan had also carried out many important nominees’ screenings, parliamentary investigations and also carried out many oversight functions diligently and without scandals. Anyone conversant with the past of the National Assembly can easily understand why it is important to mention this as an achievement. In the wake of the #EndSARS protests and the looting that followed it, the senate was clear on its calls; that Nigerians cannot afford anarchy and that Nigerians must abide by the rule of law in voicing their grievances and violence in whatever name must be avoided. The unprecedented looting that followed the protests raised concerns about youth unemployment in Nigeria. Senator Ahmad Lawan leads the voices that emphasized that, to avoid chaos in the future, jobs must be created for youths, and windows and doors of opportunities must be opened for youths.
As a young person, I will keep going back to issues that have to do with youths. In September, Senator Ahmad Lawan sponsored the training of youths in the area of GSM technology. The training was conducted at the three senatorial zones of Yobe state. At least 1000 youths benefitted from the training that also includes; hands-on on hardware, software, and entrepreneurship development. In this age of increasing relevance of information technology in all aspects of life, the skills youths from all parts of Yobe state acquired from the training will set them on the path of aspiring to be key players in the technology industry. Giving youths what can be described as ‘skills of the moment’ is a way of preparing them for the future.
It was in the news, at the beginning of the year that Senator Ahmad Lawan sponsored mass weddings across; Bade, Jakusko, Karasuwa, Machina, Nguru, and Yusufari local government areas that constitute the senatorial zone he is representing. Already, hundreds of youths have benefitted from the mass weddings and more will follow. The mass weddings sponsored by Senator Ahmad Lawan came with a difference. Before the wedding couples were provided with household needs and dowry. This was followed by empowering the couples with means of livelihood. While the women were trained and provided with knitting tools, soap making, sewing machines, grinding machines, hair saloon tools, and other forms of empowerment, the men were provided with empowerment to start businesses in the areas of welding, tiling, electric work, barbing, tailoring, bricklaying and plumbing. So far 600 couples have collected their empowerment packs. This can best be described as a mass wedding — with a difference. It is the type of mass wedding that goes beyond helping indigent parents to carry out their family and parental obligations. It did not only stop at helping youths to start a family. It also provided the benefiting youths with the empowerment that will ensure that both husband and wife have a means of earning a livelihood that is key to building a future.
In the area of education, Senator Ahmad Lawan facilitated the ongoing work for the establishment of ICT Park in Nguru town. In the area of roads, Senator Ahmad Lawan has already achieved the reconstruction of Nguru-Gashua road and Gashua-Baymari road. Through his efforts, the Federal Executive Council recently approved the construction of Gasamu—Amshi—Gogaram road at the cost of N14.5 billion. For years Senator Ahmad Lawan has been sponsoring free animal vaccination which protects against Contagious Bovine Pleuro Pneumonia (CBPP) which is a contagious disease that attacks the lungs and thoracic cavity, causing fever and rapid respiration, cough, and nasal discharges in domestic animals. The lawmaker is also undertaking urban and rural roads, water provision, and solar streetlights projects across the six local governments that constitute Yobe north senatorial district. In fact, there will not be enough space to list the numerous projects Senator Ahmad Lawan attracted to the people he is representing.
In the area of lawmaking Senator Ahmad Lawan instrumental to the Recovery of Public Property Bill, Amendment of Assets Management Corporation Act, Nigeria Road Safety Commission Bill, Federal Universities of Agriculture Act (Amendment), and motions that have a direct impact on the lives of Nigerians.
Enumerating the achievements of Senator Ahmad Lawan is a way of showcasing the possibilities and the benefits for the people when the legislature and the executive work together with the harmony built around protecting the interest of all Nigerians. Despite the achievements of the senate, there is still room for improvement in the areas of oversight; which is central to making sure that public funds are used to make the lives of the people better. One can say, the strides of Senator Ahmad Lawan in 2020; at home and at the national level fulfilled the three core functions of every legislator; representation, lawmaking, and oversight. It also shows what Nigerians stand to benefit when the legislature and the executive work together. But this does not in any way mean all is perfect. As time goes, the legislature will continue to evolve.
*Hassan A. Nguru, Bakin Kasuwa, Nguru Yobe State