By; CARL UMEGBORO
The legislature has over the years played politics to the extreme by repeatedly, egotistically misappropriating its gavel in contradiction of democratic norm, and severally, conceitedly axed opposing colleagues that were elected by the people in their respective senatorial districts and constituencies for their counterparts at the House of Representatives or Assembly. By democratic norms, the electorates freely and wittingly bid their mandate to some persons to exercise the sovereignty on their behalf as their representatives and therefore can only be removed from workplace by the people. The fundamental principle guiding all rules and laws is Section 1(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended which emphatically makes the provisions of the constitution superior to all other laws including the Senate Rules. Irrefutably, the constitution recognises Delta state as a part of the federation and equally empowered it to be represented by senators as other states. In other words, the action of the senate recently by suspending a duly elected legislator, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege representing Delta central senatorial district is clearly a display of disdain and naivety, and above all, constitutes a robbery against the entire people of the area.
By the grotesque intrigues, the entire population of the senatorial district being represented is unconsciously, impliedly kicked out from the federal government by shutting out their representative from participating in legislative businesses, sadly by elected colleagues. Frankly speaking, the action fell below the bar of decorum. This aberration gravely portends danger as any acts of the parliament during the period of such unlawful suspension cannot legally stand without carrying along the senatorial district that is likewise a stakeholder in the national project. Succinctly, all resolutions during the unlawful moratorium should logically be null and void as it is a legitimate right of all senatorial districts and constituencies to be part of policies for the nation. The risk in sustaining the noxious, malevolent and mischievous scheme is that it could someday extensively be used as a political tool of oppression against a district, constituency or geographical zone that genuinely clamors for welfare of its population such that its representative may also be kicked out ahead of the plenary.
Imperatively, election and recall, apart from orders of the court afford the electorates rights to ‘hire and fire’ those they endorsed for public offices. It therefore becomes inconceiveable that legislators, duly elected with certificate-of-return and consequently sworn-in to represent their people can only exercise the mandate by the discretion of other elected colleagues. The mandate to represent the people in the Senate, House of Representatives or Assembly is not in any way a shared responsibility or conditional, but sacrosanct; exclusively determined by the people. And even if a colleague is found guilty of any violations including in-house rules, the appropriate people to call the shorts or cut short the primary duties are the electorates. At most, the legislative chamber can withdraw privileged benefits it freely allotted by partisan considerations where violation is substantiated against the colleague. That’s the extent House Rules can go except where such rules are not inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution unlike the present quagmire. Thus, no legislative body has powers to shut out a bona fide legislator elected to represent a group of people in legislative businesses of the nation.
Democracy is etymologically, the government of the people, by the people and for the people. It therefore connotes that the people plays fundamental roles in any democratic system as it is virtually all about the people. Thus, where the representative of the people is denied access into government businesses, it is tantamount to intimidation, terrorization and muzzling of the entire people being represented. To sum, the action of the senate is aptly treasonous and felonious; criminal offenses punishable with terms of imprisonments against the perpetrators. It is clearly hostilities against Section 14(2)(c) of the 1999 Constitution, and inimical to corporate existence of the nation. Politics must be played within the borders. To barefacedly and recklessly shut out or suspend, even for a day, a legislator that represents a legitimate group recognized by the nation’s constitution for whatever reasons let alone frivolities and partisanship is the height of law-breaking and should expeditiously attract full wraths of the law. A legislator that contravenes in-house rules may lose secondary assigned positions or duties but not the primary duties assigned by the electorates which is similar to shutting out the entire people of the district or constituency from participation in the government.
As it stands, the senate has by its reckless action unconsciously suspended the entire people of Delta central senatorial district from legislative businesses of the country for ninety days. That’s the height of provocation in a democracy and believably, without the provocative attack on the people, the disgraceful snatching of the Senate Mace, albeit condemned in strong terms, wouldn’t have occurred. Probably, the jumbo allowances the lawmakers covetously allocated to themselves made them forget the concept of representation of the legislature vis-à-vis the people. Emphatically, the legislative arm albeit misconstrued by politicians is the peoples’ corner. The National Assembly transcends a legislative building rather an assembly or gathering of representatives of all nationalities and ethnic groups. A legislator is irrespective of his height or status, apparently the symbol of the constituency he represents and therefore any actions against him is directed at his people. Comparatively, suspending or shutting out an elected representative from the parliament is not different from removing a member-nation’s flag from the ECOWAS or United Nations headquarters. Unfortunately, true democracy largely remains a myth in the contemporary society instead, draining of the people flourishes as a common goal. To digress, it is indeed upsetting that most allocations made for constituency projects for districts and constituencies in the country end up in foreign countries for acquiring exquisite properties for ‘distinguished senators and honorable members’. What an inhumanity to man!
Umegboro, public affairs analyst writes from Abuja via firstname.lastname@example.org (07057101974 SMS only)
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