International Day Of Parliamentarism
It is the international parliamentarism day; a day for the recognition of the date in which the global organization of Parliament was founded in June 30th, 1889 and celebration of the parliamentary houses and their legislative efforts for a better world.
The parliamentary system also addressed as the legislative system fall into two categories: Bicameral(with two chambers of parliament) and Unicameral. (with one chamber) Out of 193 countries, 79 are Bicameral and 114 are Unicameral, making a total of 272 chambers of parliament with over 46,000 members of parliament.
In this sum total, 25% of the world’s members are women, while 28.1% of the world’s members are under 45.
In Nigeria, the federal legislative body consists of two houses- the House of Representatives and the Senate. The members of the House of Representatives are 360 in numbers, representing states’ constituencies; and the members of the Senate are 109 in numbers, with three from each state representing the three senatorial districts of a state, with only one member representing the Federal Capital, Abuja.
The principal officers include the Senate President and deputy, Speaker and deputy, majority leaders, Chief whips and deputies.
Being a former colony of Britain, Nigeria’s initial legislative structure was parliamentary system of government at Independence in 1960. It however transposed into a Presidential system of government in 1979; a simulation of the United States legislative structure.
In the words of Hanibal Goitom, Foreign Law Consultant, “it was done to achieve a more enhanced separation of powers, checks and balances among the three branches of government. To that end, in addition to its legislative mandate, the current constitution accords the National Assembly extensive oversight powers.
These includes control over the spending of federal funds, the authority to provide advice and consent for appointments to key executive positions, the power to approve all treaties negotiated by the executive, and the power to impeach the president and his deputy.”
The state legislative body is also imbedded to carry out responsibilities similar to that of the National law making body. Although, the state legislature is Unicameral, and each of the 35 states excluding the federal capital, Abuja has its own law making body, and members are 24 to 42 in numbers.
Similar to the National Legislative structure, all citizens who are 18 and above have the right to vote their representatives into the state house of assembly. Only that each constituency electorate is given the right to choose by election its own representative both in the state house and the federal house.
As previously mentioned, only 28.1% of the 46,000 members of parliament across the world are below the age of 45. And less than 20 percent of the 409 are under the same age in Nigeria.
The state house assemblies are making progress as per the inclusion of youth in legislative process of the states. Typical examples of such can be found in Oyo, Kaduna, Plateau, Abia and Plateau States. This progress seems to stem out of the Not too young to run initiative spearheaded by Samson Itodo of YIAGA (Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement) in 2016, and the bill signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018.
The need to include more youth is essential for the continuous development of the nation, looking at the fact that the nation’s legislative structure is nascent and needs agile and brilliant minds for the formulation of bills and policies that will benefit the masses and align with the 17 sustainable development goals for the amelioration of all parts of the nation.
As the parliamentary system is celebrated today, we devise this means to encourage our lawmakers in both states and central to look beyond their pockets but to the lives of the 120 million Nigerians that live below 600 naira a day, thousands of families displaced due to insurgency, multitudes of students that suffer strike each academic session due to the trivial perception of the body to education, incessant sexual abuse as a result of gender inequality, and other issues germane to the progression of Nigeria.