Why I Would Prefer Babatundi Raji Fashola SAN, on the Seat of Senate President

I understand politics is a game of numbers, which psychologically involves the use of balance-vectors and where all odds should be carefully weighed. It is therefore notable that the south-western part of the country, a region considered to have the second largest voting population would no doubt be contributing a great deal towards electioneering. In another context, it is often said that sometimes in the game of politics two plus two (2 + 2) is not always four (4). So I urge APC leaders not to kill the momentum and excitement of many Nigerians who have long waited for the much needed change in our country by their rationale for selecting a running mate to join General Mohammadu Buhari in the presidential race come 2015 general elections.

Many would agree without feeling otherwise that Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola SAN is the most marketable political personality from south west: A cerebral, intellectual and articulated individual, a professional who knows his onions, a man of wit who understands what governance is all about and what development entails; tried and trusted- but unfortunately the religious sentiment of a Muslim-Muslim ticket plays to his disadvantage, therefore puts him in a dicey situation to cling on the number two spot, the position of the vice president If APC emerged victorious in the upcoming presidential election.

In as much as some would say the arguments surrounding the issue of religion could be critical and is one that is very sensitive, nevertheless- it’s alarming if the process to fill the two most important positions in the country must be religious-base rather than questions of competence and technocratic solutions to fundamental problems bedevilling this nation. As it stands today, it appears the debate on the balance between Christianity & Islam in public domain has come to stay; this should therefore be treated with caution and not be disregarded especially in the face of global threats on the quest for caliphate by some evil elements.

I think over the years the citizenry have continued to overlook the relevance of the legislative arm of government with regards to formulation of laws/policies toward poverty reduction strategies and other vital issues which are long overdue and urgently begging for a redress. Like Anders B. Johnson, Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, would say many legislatures are ineffective because of their own shortcomings, what he calls “lack of proper understanding by members of parliament of their role as lawmakers and overseers of government action”. I honestly feel it’s high time we stopped all manner of representatives bombarding the National Assembly, many who have little or no knowledge of basic principles and functions of the parliament.

As we have in the NASS today, there are different categories of parliamentarians with mismatched objectives but “unanimously” same personal interests. We have a group of those having their first shot at the national cake and a category of those “by virtue of status quo” found themselves in the house as part of their retirement packages after serving in other public offices or government institutions.

It is widely agreed that the issue of extreme poverty is one of the greatest shortcomings of the country today. That being said, the World Bank & IMF have critically examined the role legislatures

can play in poverty reduction; identifying practical contributions parliaments and parliamentarians could make in alleviating poverty, for example- through formulation of policies relating to poverty reduction, giving it a higher priority in all phases of the policy process, ensuring implementation and policy evaluation & reform.

The masses keep looking up to the Executives for national developments, whereas- there are much more the legislatures could do to effect change as we’ve seen in other climes, where the outcome of their legislative duties if motivated by national interest could impact the lives of ordinary Nigerians positively. Furthermore, the frivolous budgetary on National Assembly is alarming and worrisome, a blatant waste of public fund and mismanagement of national purse. The money spent to pass a law cost an arm and a leg- In spite of this, Senator David Mark’s led parliament has achieved less than expected over the years. I think more should be expected from our legislators and Nigerians must begin to hold the National Assembly accountable for her inaction.

I want a legislature that truly represents the wishes and concerns of their constituents; reviewing whether the government’s allocation of resources is consistent with their constituents’ demands as well as with the country’s developmental objectives, scrutinizing government expenditures and revenues (including loans and credits from the international institutions), ensuring that money is allocated to programs with legislative approval, and identifying instances of financial dishonesty and irregularity. There’s no doubt in my mind that an upper house presided over by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria; a Fashola’s calibre would wear a new look on the National Assembly and bring sanity to the legislative arm of the government.

Following the 2015 general elections, I am particularly interested in seeing a more purposeful legislature. Many scholars have screamed for a serious and scam-free constitutional reform if we’re truly ready to move the country to the next level. Prominent voices have highlighted the necessity for us as a nation to urgently address some critical issues in our constitution: Devolution of powers, Resource control, and Local government autonomy among others- which will speedily bring developments to the grass root.

As we celebrate the emergence of General Mohammadu Buhari as the presidential flag bearer of the All Progressive Congress, fanatics have raised concerns over the choice of running mate; some believe it could be suicidal for APC if their quest to fill the number two position is not zoned to the south-south, as perceived to be a compensation peradventure President Jonathan loses out in the elections, between- it would further open up the region to a stiff competition and the argument for the south-west is that, the voting populace are more enlightened and would vote for the right candidates without regional sentiments. This permutation would give room for Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola SAN to occupy the position of senate president, thus representing south west in the top three positions of the country.

I charge the APC leaders to act in the best interest of the bleeding crowd who have bear the brunt of the agony, torture and misery infiltrated on Nigerians by the PDP- led government over the past fifteen years. God bless this nation of ours.

Boluwatife Adekunle. @boluzzz


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