…says nation doesn’t need full time legislators
• Unicameral legislature’ll save cost –Dep. House leader, Akpatason
The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), has thrown his weight behind the recent call for the adoption of a unicameral legislature, adding that Nigeria does not need full time legislators. Similarly, Chairman, South-West (Akure Centre) of the House of Representatives Committee on the Constitution review, Hon. Peter Akpatason, who is also the lawmaker representing Akoko- Edo Federal Constituency, supported the call for a single legislature.
The Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, had recently advocated the scrapping of the current National Assembly system due to its wastefulness, urging the legislative arm of government to embrace a unicameral legislature. Sagay, while reacting to the call, aligned with Governor Akeredolu, saying he would simply suggest that the country adopt one Federal legislature, instead of two, to help avoid delays in legislations and also aid cut down on expenses.
He, nonetheless, said a far more useful proposition is that the country should stop having full time legislators, which he said he was sure Governor Akeredolu mentioned too. He said: “I agree with Governor Akeredolu on the fact that we should have one legislature at the Federal level, just as we have in the states.
“This would help avoid delays in legislation and also aid in cutting down on our expenses. “But, I think that a far more useful proposition is that we should stop having full time legislators, and I know that Governor Akeredolu mentioned it too. “Throughout the First Republic, we had part-time Legislators, who passed the necessary legislations when needed while maintaining their normal jobs, preoccupations and professions. “These part-time legislators would come in for about a month or six weeks, pass a series of needed legislations and then go back. And after a while, they would come back again.
“Hence, during that time, they were paid sitting allowance and given free accommodations, and by doing that, we cut down on the cost of governance tremendously. “So, you can imagine having legislators, who are earning over N15 million a month that we can calculate and much more that we cannot calculate (like constituency projects and the rest). “Moreover, when you look at the report of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), you would agree that their recovery is mind blowing. “In the public (Senate) sector, particularly amongst the legislature, most of these funds are not used but only inflated. It is really terrible.
“Therefore I align myself with the Governor’s proposition and suggest that we have one legislature, which would be a part-time one.” Speaking on the issue, Hon. Akpatason, also said: “It is time we started taking Nigeria issues more seriously than ever before. “The issue of cost cutting is very important at this point in time. However, we don’t do it at the expense of quality and effective representation.
“I’m not opposed to a Unicameral legislature. I actually don’t see the reason why we have two committees to oversee a ministry at the same time, it’s duplication. “The argument that it is more effective, for me, is a very weak argument, because a single committee that is serious and well composed can supervise a ministry more than multiple committees that are properly composed. “I’m not opposed to a unicameral legislature in Nigeria; I think we can do it and it will save some cost. But cost is not always the reason for doing things.
“If saving cost is what we can achieve at the detriment of effective representation, then we need to look at it very objectively.” Akeredolu, who canvassed the adoption of a single legislature, had argued that it would help the country reduce the size of government and scope of engagement. According to the governor, “The Senate should be scrapped. The House of Representatives too should not be unwieldy. A maximum of four representatives should come from each zone. “We advocate a Federal Government largely reduced in size and scope of engagement. We want to see a constitution that will enhance the performance of public office holders at all levels. “We must reduce the cost of governance and shift attention to service delivery in this trying period.”