Senate and the cost of governance


Former governor of Lagos State and national leader of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, last week called for the scrapping of the upper legislative chamber, the Senate, on the grounds that the lower arm, the House of Representatives, is in a better position to actualize the aspirations and expectations of the people.

He hinged this position on the need to reduce the high cost of governance in the country, and the proximity of Representatives to the people, compared with the Senate. Most countries practise the bicameral system of government because of its numerous advantages over the unicameral version. Nigeria, too, has over the years adopted the bicameral legislative format, its bloated cost, which is at the root of Tinubu’s Senate abolition proposal, notwithstanding.

The fact remains that the Senate has exclusive legislative responsibilities prescribed by the country’s constitution such as the clearance of ministerial nominees and other federal appointees, among others too numerous to be listed here. In the execution of Senate’s hallowed duties, the unwieldy House of Representatives serves as a check on it and equally engenders balance in the process. This, however, does not mean that the lower chamber is weaned of its youthful exuberance, boisterousness and occasional rascality. It is a question of reciprocal moderation.

The maturity, experience and candour of Senators cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand. From time to time, the debate over the relevance of two-chamber parliaments comes up not just in Nigeria but in other countries. At the end of the day, the status quo remains largely because the merits of bicameralism far outweigh unicameral parliament. Were it otherwise, most nations would have long dumped the method. Since the evolution of democracy, there have been no superior perspectives on the imperativeness of abolishing the upper legislative assembly.

Some critics had even gone ahead to argue that the equality of state representation in the Senate is lopsided, unrealistic and unfair to the essence of democracy. Whether a bicameral or unicameral legislature, what matters ultimately is good lawmaking at a rational cost. Nobody can sweep under the carpet the fact that the cost of governance in Nigeria, unlike other democracies, is outrageously high. What needs to be done is not advocacy for the dissolution of the Senate.

At the level of the National Assembly, the huge allowances and other parliamentary perquisites can be drastically reduced to a responsible size. But, beyond this, there is a much more critical need for the holistic review of the cost of bureaucracy. As it stands today, most of the country’s resources are used to maintain all sorts of governmental establishments that are duplicitously irrelevant and do not add any value to our developmental strides.

It is apposite to recall that recently, the Federal Government-empanelled Steve Oronsaye Committee strongly recommended scrapping of some agencies, parastatals and corporations if the country is to achieve the millennial development goals. There are too many official outfits carrying out almost the same functions. This line of gross wastage should be blocked. We are even surprised that the committee’s report is yet to be implemented.

This is hoping that it will not go the way of past innumerable enquiries. The executive arm of government has the onus to show the way by comprehensively bringing down its running cost and shedding the weight of its ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). Some of the MDAs should be discarded. We call on President Goodluck Jonathan, as part of his government’s transformation agenda that should eventually outlive this regime, to immediately initiate moves aimed at addressing the gargantuan cost of governance. If this is done, other arms of leadership will naturally fall into place.

Instead of abolishing the Senate, let there be an overhaul of public institutions and review of administrative outlays in all sectors of governance. The earlier this is done the better for the country. Now that the constitution is being reviewed, it is the most appropriate time to close all identified fiscal drainages.

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  1. The former lagos state governor Bola tinubu agitation to scrabe the upper chamber was inpite of the Senators. If truely the issues is wasteful fiscal expenditure the state house of assembly should be scrabe in this regards because National assembly legislation prevail over state house of assembly (supper story law) which often is contradictory in a waste of human resources,economy and mismanagement in the case of lagos state. State executive council should take decisiom with Governor inplace of super story law of the state. What? is the impact of lagos state super story law on its economy and living standards of an average LAGOSIAN since 1999 MR Tinubu Bola Ahmed.

  2. The former lagos state governor Bola tinubu agitation to scrape the upper chamber of the National assembly was in spite of the Senators. If truely the issues was wasteful fiscal expenditure the state house of assembly should be scraped because National assembly legislations prevails over state house of assembly (super story laws) which waste human resources,economy and mismanagement in the case lagos state. The state executive council should take decision with Governor on state matters. What? is the impact of lagos state house of assembly on its economy and wellbeing of lagosian since 1999 MR Tinubu Bola Ahmed

  3. I’m surprised that your medium can not take an affirmative editorial position on this issue. An editorial opinion I believe should voice the opinion of a medium like yours on any issue. I will say this editoral was poorly written and inconclusive.

  4. Instead of scrapping the upper chamber, we should think of reducing the number of members per state from 3 to 1. Also the lower chamber should be reduced to maximum of 5 per state. FEC members with all the special, non special advisers should be only 1 from each state i.e. total should not be more than 36.

  5. There is need to reduce the gargantuan cost of governance but the ones we have at our disposal what have we done with it?

  6. i support Asiwaju Tinubu.The cost of running Govt is gangatuan National Assembly should be scapping.All senator are there to make money at d expence of d masses.No meaningful law dat favouur d masses had been passed.They are Jeun sapo senator.Nigerian were enslaved by their inative.

  7. i support Asiwaju Tinubu.The cost of running Govt is gangatuan National Assembly should be scapping.All senator are there to make money at d expence of d masses.No meaningful law dat favouur d masses had been passed.They are Jeun sapo senator.Nigerians are enslaved by their inative.

  8. Nigeria as it is currently been run is doomed for disaster. Let those in comfort now because of the status co not rejoice much. There is terrible disaster at the corner. Pray men of God for God’s divine mercy to lead Nigeria on the path of light, truth and justice. The ipocracy of the rulers and their selfishness and deception is at the pick. The end of this is near. But we must all pray very hard. God can help us avert the evil.

  9. but if their fat allowances could be reduced and that of the executive 2, it will help all of us. and equally reduce political aspiration of those that have no biz in governance

  10. Opara . C from U.K on

    Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s recommendation for scrapping the upper chamber of the legislature could be a realistic approach to reduce cost in governance, but he fail to realise that there he made his first land mark in Nigerian politics. Secondly, he supported his wife to run and become a senator Why in the first place he did not stop his wife from becoming a senator. The issue here is not about the number of chambers that runs the government but it has to do with transparency and accountability. There is a lot of corruption in our leader ship system, which if left uncontrolled will definitely elude our country Nigeria. The need for the Federal government to realise that a lot of fraud is going on in the system with out being checked is ridiculous and unacceptable.Instead of paper presentation, action should be geared towards preventing the looting of public funds by ensuring every expense must retired or properly accounted for.

  11. I used to think towards this direction even as a kid till now dat i hav come of age that if i had my way, i would first, desolve the senate and ministers, then make use of advisers and rep member. Some time you find them performing the same function. The multiplicity of MDAs has left most of us with an endless thoughts even as graduate without job.

  12. Are you a senator? Why hold brief for them? They earn more money than barrack obama does, why?* our economy is no where near that of US where minimum wage is N199,000! in acountry where minimum wage is N18000, A Senator( David Mark) earns N80m in a month is immoral

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