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Mark decries high turnover of lawmakers in 8th Assembly



David Mark

PRESIDENT of the Senate, David Mark has lamented the high turnover of lawmakers in the National Assembly, a development he said would slow down speedy legislation in the incoming 8th Assembly scheduled to be inaugurated in June 2015.

This is even as the Speaker of the House of Representative, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal yesterday charged the incoming 8th Assembly to prioritize the welfare of all Nigerians through the legislations it will make in the discharge of its responsibilities as a parliament.

Speaking at the beginning of a five -day induction course for newly elected members of the National Assembly organized by the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS), Mark regretted that only a few lawmakers would be returning, which, according to him, would impact negatively on the legislature.

During the March 28 presidential and National Assembly polls, over 70 senators and more than 250 members of the House of Representatives failed in their attempts to retain their seats.

This, according to the Senate President, was not good for Nigeria’s democracy, saying “obviously when people are new to a system, it takes time for them to adjust and learn the procedures. It is going to take time for them to even find their ways even round the National Assembly building itself. So, it will be a very slow start obviously. If the members returning are more, things will start a lot quicker.

On President Goodluck Jonathan’s refusal to assent to the constitution amendment Bill, Mark said: “The president has taken the bill to the court and it is a bill at the moment unless it is signed. I really don’t see why they’re in court, but anybody can go to court. The president could sign the bills that he wants to sign; the ones he doesn’t want to sign, he returns to us and we do the needful.”

The Senate President added that the induction course was important as it would afford the new lawmakers to get acquainted and know themselves, adding that “The interaction among the legislators is important as a foundation to run a stable National Assembly, more importantly the fact that they will learn the procedures and the various things that happen within the National Assembly.”

In a paper titled ‘Legislative, Executive and Judicial Relationships,’ former Speaker Ghali Umar Na’Abba said the duties and functions of the three arms must be separated from one another in a presidential system to give each arm the latitude to operate as defined by the constitution.

He added however, that no democratic system of government exists with absolute separation of powers or lack of it, saying the powers are intentionally made to overlap and are too complex and interrelated to be neatly compartmentalized, as a result of which there is an inherent measure of competition and conflict among the three branches.

Tambuwal, earlier in a goodwill message at the beginning of the induction, specifically tasked the new legislators to strive to exceed the performance of the 7th assembly which passed 108 of the over 481 Bills that were introduced on the floor of the House of Representatives since inauguration from June 2011.

The Speaker also revealed that the House of Representatives introduced a total number of 825 motions of which 554 were referred to committees and another 162 were passed as resolutions.

He said there was a huge expectation on the 8th assembly to exceed the achievements of its predecessor and charged the lawmakers to aggressively pursue the principles of good governance and work diligently to promote growth and development.

He said the parliament was a critical component and necessary ingredient of democracy and good governance which, according to him requires the existence of of a strong legislature.

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