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59 years after independence: Insights on Nigeria’s legislative agenda

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Jonas Ike, Abuja
It’s no longer news that the Nigerian state attained independence on October 1, 1960. By this same date this year 2019, the nation would attain 59 years of age. At this age, this nation can still not be said to be a new nation in the comity of nations.
What is pertinent at this stage is how far and how well have the emergent crop of the leadership of the nation been able to build upon and sustain the legacies of its founding fathers
To what extent have new Nigerian leaders been able to sustain the promises entrenched in the first National Anthem of the country by the citizens viz: to be faithful, loyal and honest. To serve Nigeria with all my strength, to defend her unity and uphold her honour and glory?
The Nigerian nation has witnessed both turbulent and peaceful times within these six decades of its nationhood. Some scholars said that the country is at a cross road, other say it is on the verge of a precipice.  Another school of thought says it is on the path of development.
Keep Naira clean
From whichever divide anyone belongs to the truth is that Nigeria has made some progressive steps and has leapt forward in its quest for greatness. At some other times it also made some retrogressive steps that stunted the nation’s growth  and development in these decades
From those long era of military coups that gave birth to the prolonged interregnum, then to civil war, oil boom, economic downturn, structural adjustment, political crisis and now a democracy, the nation has no doubt come of age.
As the nation marks, this year’s celebration of October 1 as the 59th independence anniversary, there is a need for the introspection with some of the challenges of past that will have way for a promising future for the citizenry.
At the National Assembly, the nation”s apex legislature, the issue of leadership selection, independence of this arm of government and relationship with other arms of government and lawmaking also deserves inquest.
The Fourth National Assembly which came into being with the proclamation of the National Assembly on 3rd June 1999 came with many hopes and this was the first symbol of the emergent democratic rule in Nigeria.
Many of those Nigerian leaders who fought the military had high hopes that the august National Assembly would help sustain the gains of the newly entrenched democratic rule in Nigeria
Nonetheless, the fourth republic National Assembly became an embodiment of different characters and personalities that eventually thew the apex legislature into serious leadership conundrum.
From altercation with the executive president to certificate scandal, the impeachment of its principal officers, and physical combat within the chambers both the Senate and the House of Representatives of that era were embroiled in a crisis of different magnitudes.
These unwanted crises have no doubt affected the lawmaking, representation and oversight duties of the legislative institution. The lawmakers rather than make positive law capable of transforming the political landscape have been settling scores.
The presence of banana peel which swept away the first Senate President Evans Enwerem and his successor Dr. Chuba Okadigbo has not been the albatross of this apex legislative institution from inception to date.
Even the first Speaker of the House of Representatives Hon. Salisu Buhari was not able to conquer this slippery mudslide as he later threw in the towel after his odious certificate scandal became public.
From this epic period till today the hallowed two-chamber legislature has never been focused in its sacred duty of lawmaking as one crisis or the other has always reared its head to sway lawmakers.
Starting from the budget padding allegations to bribing of some committee chairmen of the 8th Senate and House and of course defection of lawmakers from one party to another, the legislature has been facing so many turbulent times.
The  9th National Assembly led by Senate President Dr. Ahmed Lawan and his counterpart the Speaker House or Representatives Hon. Femi Gbajabimilla is expected to whether all these storms and make positive legislations for the progress of the country.
The two principal officers who are serving the 6th and 5th terms in the apex legislature are expected to galvanize the legislature due to their wealth of experience in lawmaking.

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