The Electoral College, Nigeria, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), has urged the 9th National Assembly to to give transparency a priority in its mode of operations with a view to deepening democracy and good governance in the country.
Mr Kunle Lawal, Executive Director of the College, who gave the advice in a statement on Friday in Abuja, said that Nigeria as most populous black nation deserves a fully functional National Assembly.
He said that in any democracy, the legislature is the engine room of government and as such, its inadequacies would not only deny the people of good governance, but be a broken link to it.
“From the 1st to the 8th assembly, we have stumbled and staggered for efficiency and openness both in the upper and lower houses.
“This is not because of ignorance but rather from the perspective of our political landscape which is secretive.
“We must encourage a more open national assembly. This we believe will also help to curb lucrative allure and encourage efficiency.
“Legislators elected into these positions must fully understand their responsibilities as lawmakers, be open and accountable to their people,’’ he said.
Lawal said that the representatives of the electorate and their constituents must understand the responsibilities that they have been saddled with and live up the expectations of the people.
He said that the voting system in the senate which did not allow constituents to be aware of what their representatives were either voting for or against should be halted.
He advised that the poor average attendance of legislators should be accompanied with drawbacks on earnings or political capital.
“Attendance and voting patterns should be brought to the public’s knowledge so as to hold legislators accountable to their constituents,’’ he said.
The executive director recommended that proposed bills and amendments that could provide quick wins for the people be given quick consideration and not left to linger for long period.
He said that documentations of proposed bills and bills for amendments should not be made too bulky for easy comprehension and quick consideration.
Lawal tasked Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and other NGOs to promote civic education and mass re-orientation on governance and its dividends.
This he said would boost the level of awareness of the people being represented and also create a consciousness in the minds of the legislators that they are being closely watched.
According to him, the Nigerian political landscape and modus of operations did not require a bi-cameral legislature.
This he said is because of the immense financial implications to the country’s ailing economy, arising from the huge cost of running the National Assembly.