By Nuel Suji
The President of the Senate, Sen. David Mark on Monday hit hard on State Houses of Assembly for turning the state legislative arm into surrogates of state governors, saying the nation has had enough of “mere rubber stamp” Assemblies that always endorse executive decisions.
Mark who was furious about the abuse of impeachment in the country also challenged state lawmaker-elects to forthright in conducting the affairs of their hallowed chambers in accordance with the extant rules of the House and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Senate President who spoke at the induction course organised for members of State Houses of Assembly said the use of the card reader by INEC in the 2015 general elections improved the integrity of the electoral process.
Mark said that the 2015 elections mark a significant achievement in the consolidation and deepening of our democracy.
In his words,”At the national level, the legislature has continued to assert its independence and resist executive interference. Thus, the legislature has achieved institutional stability and transformed from being a “mere rubber stamp” of executive decisions and policy initiatives into an institution that now enjoys a reasonable degree of legitimacy and respect. We are not quite where we want to be though. But can we say the same of State legislatures?
“If I may tell all of you here, the general impression is that the State legislatures have remained an appendage of the government houses or governors. I recall that when the first constitutional amendment was done, the State Assemblies did not have the political courage to muster enough votes for their financial autonomy.
“For example, as law-makers, you must avoid holding your sessions in the Council Chambers of the Government Houses. It is ignoble to use the Mace outside the Chamber or borrow Local Government Legislative Council Mace to conduct your affairs or resort to self help by using your Mace to perpetuate violence.
“You must conduct your sittings in line with the provisions of the Constitution and the extant rules of the House. As State legislators you must restrain yourselves from the excessive use of the constitutional provision that empowers you to impeach either your speakers, executive governors or their deputies.
“Impeaching a public elected official is a very serious legislative process and must not be abused or taken for a joke. Impeachment is not designed for a few days exercise. Where it has become the last resort, it must be painstakingly conducted within the hallowed chamber of the parliament in accordance to the extant rules of the House and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“This is not to say that there should be no collaboration between the executive and the state legislatures on matters of public good,” he added.