The Former Senate President, Dr Ken Nnamani, says strong and truly independent legislature would promote and bring about democratic dividends to the citizenry.
Nnamani made the observation at the 2017 Conference of the Commonwealth Parliament Association (CPA), Africa region in Abuja on Tuesday.
The theme of the conference is; “State and Local Government Relation on Public Finance and Governance’’.
The former senate president opined that many of the state houses of assemblies had become appendages of the state government houses, thus, abdicating their responsibility as makers of laws that should bring succour and development to the people.
“We are not matured enough to give the people the real democratic practice. If you look at our constitution, those who did it have done a great work, it may not be perfect but it will get better some day.
“Democracy is based on the principles of local control which is what we call town hall democracy.
“ In our country, there are few states that have strength. Most states see their houses of assembly as a department in their government houses.
“ In other words, the growth of democracy will be more emphasised if we have strong house of assemblies to debate issues that will better the life of Nigerians,’’ he said.
Nnamani noted that many states where the governors had become reckless and drunk with power, was traceable to the absence of a strong and truly independent houses of assembly to checkmate these excesses.
He said that absence of machinery for proper checks and balance between the legislature and the executive, usually results in power-drunk syndrome, saying “this must be corrected.”
He also called for the critical appraisal of the quality of state legislators that would guarantee quality governance with accountability and transparency trappings in governance.
Mrs Habiba Lawal, acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), called for a re-orientation of legislators’ priority, whose loyalty should be to the people rather than the governor.
Lawal, who was represented by Mr Gabriel Aduda, Permanent Secretary, office of the SGF, said negligence on the part of governments was responsible for the plethoral social vices in the country.
“The governments in the state who are misbehaving are also having free -day because the parliamentarians are not doing their jobs.
“ More Nigerians live in the rural communities than in the cities and separating the finances of the state from local government will make the parliamentarians work more efficiently.
“We have mortgaged our rights to the state governments, the result of insurgency, baby factories, gang raping and the rest are as a result of misplacement of our priority.
“ There is a lot we can achieve for this nation if loyalty is shifted to the people. Your work to the people is more important to that of the state governor because you are the eyes of the people,’’ she said.
Also, Dr Acho Ihim, President of CPA, called for synergy between the state and the local government to allow for meaningful development in the state.
Ihim, represented by Mr Edward Ihejirika, Commissioner for Health, Imo State, said there would be a lot of development in many regions of the country if local governments were granted autonomy.
“I see state responsibility in the area of development. What this means is that there should be synergy between the state and local governments.
“ The autonomy will only make it convenient for the efforts of local governments to be visible leading to meaningful development.
“These developments will then cut across state of the federation.’’
In his contribution, Mr David Briggs, Chairman, Senior Secondary Schools Board, River State, called on the parliamentarians in every state to begin to speak out against bad governance at all levels.
Briggs said that when the parliamentarians neglect their functions, “the consequence was always grave and devastating both for the people and the country.’’