Kaduna’s changing face of lawmaking
Category: Inside politics Written by Christiana T. Alabi, Kaduna
The process of lawmaking has changed over the years in Kaduna. As the only state in the Second Republic that experienced the process of impeaching an executive governor, the radicalism the Kaduna State House of Assembly House was known for has given way to comfy- cozy relationship between the parliamentary and the legislative arms of government.
Many say the development is not too healthy for democracy saying in the current dispensation, the purpose of checks and balance which the legislature is supposed to perform to ensure equity and transparency on the polity may have been compromised.
Former governor of old Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa who was impeached by the then Kaduna Assembly in his own assessment of the present set of legislators in the Kaduna Assembly, said the present set of legislators have failed to check the excesses of the State Government even though they are in the opposition.
“Since 1999, it is only Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) that have been opposing the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state. All others worked with the PDP,” he said.
Our correspondent confirmed that 12 out of the 33 members in the Kaduna State House of Assembly are of the opposition Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) while the PDP which is the ruling party in the state, dominates the House with 22 members. But in spite of the high number of members of the opposition and the common political affinity they share, their impact is not being felt as many of them throw their weights behind the PDP in decision making.
Our correspondent also observed from the series of plenary sessions that there are some members in the Assembly that have never spoken for the past one year eight months since they assumed office.
Comparing the second republic with the present dispensation, Musa noted that the four political parties that came into alliance and competed for the 1979 election did so with a clear programme of action saying the moment they succeeded and won the governorship in their respective states, they worked together to enable the government function and fought together to the end.
“The Greater Nigerian Peoples Party (GNPP), Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) and Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) worked with the PRP up to the end and the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) government was constantly in opposition through-out. This is different from what we have today. In fact today opposition does not have to cross over formally because they act like the ruling party,” he said adding that there is no basis of comparing the political parties during the second republic and the political parties today.
During the second republic he said, there were fundamental differences and the opposition was real and based on fundamental issues but that today it is different noting that the opposition does not differ fundamentally from the government.
“As it is today, even the difference between Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and PDP is not fundamental but purely political but during the second republic, beside this aspect of fundamental differences, the opposition emerged in a determined way,” he said.
He said the UPN, GNPP, NPP and PRP decided fundamentally and politically to come together and contest the election against NPN and that that was the basis of the election, they decided that the governorship should go to PRP and that all other positions should be shared among the four political parties according to the ability of the candidate to win election and that was how the opposition came about during the second republic.
“So we can say that it came about fundamentally and in a planned way. This is not the case with the opposition today; the opposition today came about as a matter of chance, probably because of balance of terror, so there was nothing fundamental or distinctive about the coming of the opposition. In fact we can say that the whole thing was opportunistic,” he said.
But one of the opposition members of the House, Mohammed Ali when contacted, explained why the current opposition members behave the way they do saying the opposition is not in the Assembly just to antagonize the ruling party or to cause rancour but to engage in things that will be in the best interest of the state and its citizenry.
“We don’t look at ourselves as members of the CPC alone rather we work towards the collective good and well being of citizens of the state. As members of the assembly, we cease to be just representatives of our parties but representatives of the people. What members of the larger society need to know and be educated about is that opposition generally is not a question of do or die but it is an issue of bargain and compromise,” he said.
On his own assessment of the Assembly from June 2011 to date, he said they have done well but that there are areas they need to do some panel beating for them to meet the expectations of the people.
He said these areas include; secondary education, which he said needs a lot of rejuvenation in order to meet up with the required standard and also the area of maternal health care. While he called on government to do more in the area of security, he called for transparency in the way and manner funds are been allocated in the state.
But Musa in his analysis said that the environment under which the state house of assembly emerged during the second republic and that of today are two different things explaining that the second republic was largely based on public interest of the state first while self interest was second, but that today, it is different.
“In Kaduna state today, the opposition means CPC and ACN and they came about for just opportunistic political reasons,” he noted.
Speaking further, he mentioned that CPC and ACN did not work together to de-sit PDP, they worked separately with separate reasons.
He said the difference between CPC and ACN on one side and PDP on the other is not distinct, fundamental or principled while the difference between NPN on one side and PRP, UPN GNPP and NPP on the other side was fundamental. There was a high level of commitment to public interest which distinguished NPN and other four political parties, which does not exist today.
He lamented that the oppositions is being bought over by the ruling party noting that during the second republic, there was no free money for the purchase of opposition but that today, there is virtually an unlimited amount of money available to buy the opposition.
“During the second republic, there was high level of accountability, which does not exist today. At that time, a governor could not do just what he wanted with public fund, some did it and you know what happened when Buhari came, they went to jail but the amount of money available to buy others today is unimaginable and the things been used to buy others and keep them are quiet. The largest security vote in Kaduna State then was N100,000 but today, the security vote we understand is about N500 million per month and that is only for the governor; so there is a large difference. So there is much difference between then and now,” he said.
Political analysts in Kaduna observe that the purpose for seeking political offices which has changed from what it used to be has affected the quality of lawmaking in the current Assembly.
But some of the legislators blame the lack of autonomy for the state Assemblies for the inability of House to stand up to the executive when required saying in a situation where they have to go cap in hand to the executive for funds places in a difficult situation to do anything contrary to the wishes of the executive which controls its funds.