by Botti Isaac
The drama at the inauguration of the 8th National Assembly yesterday calls to mind the contradictions that exist within the ruling class globally. The contradictions exist as a result of class interest and counter interest among the ruling class that can be described as ‘’warring brothers’’ who only unite to exploit the masses but warred to protect their individual interest in grabbing the larger share of their loot.
This is the case of the newly elected Nigerian Law Makers who in the bid to secure a larger portion of what is to be exploited from the people resulted in betrayer, manipulation and alliance forming with opposition to secure the cool spot in their usual stock broking business of self representation in the Legislative Chambers. The emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki and Hon Dongara as the President of the Senates and Speaker respectively has attracted reactions and counter reactions from the leadership of the ruling party and opposition party as well as political analysts. The ruling party felt that the interest of the party supersedes the personal interest of an individual party member, while the opposition party felt that they have acted in the best interest of the country which is over and above the interest of a political party. To the political commentators, they agree that the latest development at the Chambers will give room for effective debates and deliberation on issues of common interest to the citizens while it will enhance competitive performance of the Legislators. This, however, will be a mirage.
It is quite important to take a brief look at the performance of the past law makers (both Chambers) particularly the 7th Assembly which has some of its member re-elected into the 8th Assembly. Indeed, most Nigerians believe that the amount which accrued to the 7th National Assembly, in the course of its tenure stretching from June 2011 to June 2015 is over bloated against the backdrop of their productivity level. It was gathered that the 7th National Assembly passed a total of 108 bills into law, out of the 1,068 bills sponsored and brought to its legislative attention, a good number of the bills passed are mainly executive-sponsored, made up of appropriation (budgetary) and supplementary appropriation bills as well as bills authorizing the Presidency to borrow loans. Hence, public interest bills did not feature much. Senator David Mark-led upper chamber succeeded in passing 67 bills meaning that it averaged 0.0925 bills per sitting ( total sittings in four years was far less than the supposedly 724), while the Hon. Aminu Tambuwal-led House of Representatives passed the remaining number of bills. In other words, the 7th National Assembly yielded about 10 per cent efficiency in terms of its core responsibility of law making. It also means that they averaged approximately two bills per month.
We should also recall that various reports in the pass have pointed out that the Nigerian Legislature is the most expensive legislature in the world. In 2010, the then Governor of Central Bank, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi alleged in the year 2010 that “twenty five per cent of the overhead of the Federal Government budget goes to National Assembly. In the 2015 National Budget, a combined sum of N150 billion was allocated to the National Assembly which is N49 million more than the combine budget of 20 major ministries, departments and parastatals. The budget of the 469-member National Assembly consisting of 109 senators, 360 members of the House of Representatives, legislative aides, the National Assembly Commission and the Legislative Institute is about 3.4 percent of the total budget of the federation. When this amount is juxtaposed with the total output of the legislators, we will agree that the National Assembly is the most corrupt, wasteful and inefficient institution in the country.
Beyond allocating huge sum of money to them in the Federal Budget, the Nigeria National Assemble has become a market place for money making. Rather than fulfilling its mandate of effective representation of the people, the National Assembly has become the second arm of the ‘’Nigerian stock exchange market’’, where money brokerage becomes their major function – where public contracts are being outsourced and traded among themselves; where Parastatals and Ministries come to collaborate to have their budget padded; where job seekers go to get recommendation letters to access public service employment while the making of relevant laws that will improve the quality of lives of the mass of the Nigerian poor people remain in the back seat of their agenda.
The big question is: Will the newly inaugurated 8th Assembly meet the aspiration of the Nigerian masses to fulfil their ‘Change’ promise?
The answer to this lies in the concrete analysis and understanding of the exploitative nature of the ruling class anywhere in the world. The struggle for power among the ruling class is the struggle for domination and control of the working class to fulfil their own interest (either personal or as a class). As it unfolds in the struggle for the top positions in the two Nigeria Chambers by the various contending blocs, it becomes obvious that the ruling class and its elements can do anything possible whenever possible to protect their looting interest which is seen as above the interest of the masses. The major aim of their contesting elections is come and expropriate our collective wealth, to loot and relegate the working people’s interest while class interest is upheld. While the internal struggle for the top positions is the struggle to determine who controls what portion of the loots i.e who gets the larger share.
In view of the above, the working class need to be conscious of the antics of the ruling class and never be carried away by their internal politics as going to pave way for meaningful democracy and good governance, capable of improving the living condition of the poor masses. More than ever before, there is need to critically engage the ruling class and hold them to their promises of ‘Change’ rather than allowing them to play petty politics with our collective interest. We should organise, mobilize and create the right opportunity to bring about the real social change through the ultimate weapon ‘Revolution from Below’
United we can overpower our common Enemy !