“Nigerians and keen observers of the horrid state of insecurity in Nigeria know that the current National Assembly has been abysmally hollow and unpatriotic to Nigerians and national interest. While thousands of innocent citizens are being killed daily, rather than taking proactive steps, the legislative institution keeps barking half-heartedly at the executive without doing anything”
While the Nigerian Presidency snores sonorously and slumbers away, the Senate nay the National Assembly under the chairmanship of Senate President Ahmed Lawan that is, ideally, the voice of conscience and stability as a democratic institution has lost its mettle completely. This is all because decency and citizens’ interest are being mortgaged by political partisanship and power idolatry. We believe that history is recording and one day it will count. A competent, sound, mature, people-oriented, and patriotic Senate is known, especially in a time of national crisis.
We have seen this before in Nigeria and elsewhere. For instance, among many critical interventions when the country’s democracy faced collapse in the face of obvious constitutional lacuna, Senate President David Bonaventure Aleichenu Mark, raised the gavel of patriotism and nationalism beyond political partisanship and interest and he saved the nation from major drift. The Nigerian Senate made a farcical show recently when it deliberated on a bill that seeks to discourage individuals from paying ransom to kidnappers. Sponsored by the sponsor, Francis Onyewuchi (PDP-Imo), the bill which has passed second reading in the Senate is titled “Terrorism Prevention Bill (amendment) Bill, 2021”.
It seeks prohibition of payment of ransom by families, relations, or any group to abductors, kidnappers, and terrorists in order to secure the release of kidnapped persons. Onyewuchi who led the debate on the bill said the bill which was introduced on March 10, 2021, sought to substitute Section 14 of the Principal Act with a new section to read thus: “Anyone who transfers funds, makes payment or colludes with an abductor, kidnapper or terrorist to receive any ransom for the release of any person who has been wrongfully confined, imprisoned or kidnapped is guilty of a felony and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment of not less than 15 years”. He also added that, “Hostage-taking or kidnapping has become a fast and lucrative business in Nigeria. It has now remained the most virulent form of banditry in Nigeria and the most pervasive and intractable violent crime in the country. Kidnapping is on the increase in Nigeria, and it is prevalent across all the geopolitical zones”, he said.
What kind of law would this be when it eventually becomes law? Will it also apply to the Senators and family members? We mean, will a Senator call the bluff of criminal abductors threatening to slit the throats of his wife and children or give away all his assets to secure their immediate release from the kidnappers’ den? And will he or she inform the world that he or she paid the ransom? Nigerians and keen observers of the horrid state of insecurity in Nigeria know that the current National Assembly has been abysmally hollow and unpatriotic to Nigerians and national interest. While thousands of innocent citizens are being killed daily, rather than taking proactive steps, the legislative institution keeps barking half-heartedly at the executive without doing anything.
We maintain that, indeed, this is Nigeria’s most toothless NASS under the chairmanship of Senate President Ahmed Lawan. The Senate president failed to assert the role of NASS as a stabilizing force that is supposed to bring its oversight power to bear on the country’s tumultuous ruptures in the security sector and body polity. Both the Senate and House of Representatives should show better statesmanship through proactive pro-Nigerian legislative activism capable of salving Nigeria from its current quagmire, rather than engaging in unworkable legislation. This is a big lapse Lawan and Gbajabiamila must find a way to tackle.
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