The National Assembly and the Absence of Democracy in Nigeria. — Oluwagbemiga Akinde

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It’s 22 years since democracy in Nigeria, and its presence and real effect has never been felt by the Nigerian citizens.

Some feel that this is a problem that’s caused by the desire of elected persons to fulfill their personal agenda (perhaps, of extorting public fund to pay the debt they incurred during electioneering and campaigns, revenge of some sorts etc) upon assuming public offices. Some others feel that what’s causing a pull back to Nigeria and its democracy is as a result of absolute incompetence of its leaders.

But seriously, all things considered, I do not think that the Nigerian leaders over the past years have all been absolutely incompetent to solve Nigeria’s problems like insecurity, social amenities, economic deficit etc. At least, some of them were past Generals and trained military personnel, economically-inclined and business-oriented persons, among other things. 

Or aren’t those elected leaders some of us? Of course, they aren’t foreigners. Most of them knew exactly what to do to make Nigeria a better place. But the question now is, “why didn’t they do what they know?” Why does it appear that they were all handicapped in some ways? A quick answer to those questions is that they’ve failed to separate politics from governance. Their loyalty is tied to their political leanings as opposed to the call to governance.

However, as the Nigerian constitution is concerned, the most superior entity in Nigeria is not a person—it’s NOT the Nigerian President—but a group, and that’s the National Assembly which consists of a Senate with 109 members and also a 360-member House of Representatives.

As of 2021, the President of the Nigerian Senate, Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan is a member of the ruling party (the APC) and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila is also a member of the ruling party in Nigeria. Likewise, the APC has the major seats at both the Senate and House of Reps, occupying 63 seats (that’s more than 50%) of the Senate, and 190 seats at the House of Reps (and that’s equally beyond 50%).

The issue is not that the APC has structured itself to occupy and dominate both groups of the National Assembly, but the inability of its members to separate politics from governance. So the script always go like, “…as long as it favours my political party, it’ll remain that way. And we won’t do anything about it. Damn whoever or whatever else is affected!” 

This is the issue that baffles Nigeria. But it’s clear that a lot of Nigerian youths desire to “make a change” to the system by running for Nigerian presidency. I say to them that the real change is not in the presidency of Nigeria but the National Assembly. That’s where the power to make a change and restore democracy to Nigeria can be found.


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