BY PROF NNAMDI OBIARERI

The dice 🎲 is cast. The much talked about 13 June 2023 set aside as inauguration date of the National Assembly [otherwise abbreviated as “NASS”] is here.

109 Senators and 360 Members of the House of Representatives respectively are expected to be inaugurated for a four year legislative term ending in 2027 by the grace of ALMIGHTY GOD.

Another major assignment that must be accomplished by the end of legislative business today is the election of the leadership or presiding officers of both hallowed chambers of the 10th NASS.

The elections of principal officers in both Chambers [Senate and House of Representatives] will be epic.

The build up and campaigns have been pulsating and full of high level intrigues. It has not been deficit of dramatics, histrionics, lobbying and horse trading either.

Nigerians are anxious to see the final outcomes knowing that in legislative politics, it is not over until it is over. Surprise is a key component of power politics.

At today’s inauguration, the Senate President, the Deputy Senate President, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives amongst other principal officers will be elected.

The stakes and expectations are very high. To be crowned a primus inter pares [first amongst equals] is not easy. As things stand, to be elected into position of highest responsibility in Nigeria with all her challenges is not a child’s play. Only the best is good enough.

It requires no extra courage to surmise that the leaders of the 10th NASS are expected to
mobilise their other colleagues/lawmakers to set clear cut legislative agenda that will help the other arms of government [executive and judiciary] and particularly the executive to deliver tangible and intangible dividends of democracy.

In choosing leaders from amongst themselves, the elected representatives of the people are enjoined to eschew kakistocracy and enthrone merit and national interest. Out of abundant caution, kakistocracy is government by the least suitable or competent citizens. That kind of mediocre leadership is not needed in this 10th NASS and going forward.

A legislator with leadership compass and vision is an added advantage. One can only lead well if he or she comes prepared to the leadership table- meaning that he or knows the road and destination.

The core responsibility of the national legislature remains to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof as clearly outlined in section 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.

Those who eventually emerge the leaders of the 10th NASS must be encouraged and supported to uphold the true independence of the legislature in terms clearly stipulated in the national Constitution.

As a corollary, it must be underscored or accentuated that independence of the legislature does not exclude strategic and meaningful cooperation with the executive.

On a final note, those who aspired and did not get elected into the respective presiding or leadership offices must never be haunted or marked out for humiliation. Throwing opponents under the bus can only breed divisions and disaffection which will be counterproductive.
Their leadership visions and ideas could be harnessed and utilised for sustainable nation building. The more the merrier.

On the flip side, supporters of the victorious persons are naturally entitled to celebrate and have their bragging rights but they must never gloat. It will be the height of irresponsibly to do so. The legislature is and remains one.

Nigerians must be spared of schadenfreude by political jobbers. Enough of distracting invectives and jeremaids of pretentious patriots. After the elections come governance. Governance is different from good governance. Good governance can never be achieved without inclusion and inclusivity.

A lot of work needs to be done for the Nigerian people. The national legislature should and must lead the quest to lift Nigerians from the throes of insecurity, extreme poverty and disunity.

Let the best win. Good luck to Nigeria. 🇳🇬

A new normal is possible!

🖋️
Prof Obiaraeri, N.O.

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