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Young Nigerian legislators vow to fix laws

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Examinations of the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act to be conducted.

The 10th National Assembly’s younger legislators have promised that when they return from recess in September, they will conduct thorough examinations of the gaps that have been identified in the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act. Martins Esin, who represents the Oron/Mbo/Okobo/Udung Uko/Urueffong Oruko Federal constituency in the House of Representatives, made this statement on Friday in Uyo when he was speaking with reporters during a capacity-building workshop that was organized for young legislators in the 10th National Assembly that was held in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State.

Yiaga Africa Centre for Legislative Engagement hosted the workshop for young parliamentarians. Esin, who is also the chairman of the House Committee on Youth Development, said that the committee had learned a lot from the session on analyzing and scrutinizing bills, including the fact that the three arms of government do not have complete financial independence. He promised that the committee would work to address this and other issues comprehensively. He said the 10th Assembly workshop was designed to encourage productive legislation among those aged 45 and under.

Many of the gaps will be bridged upon resumption.

Returning from the break to participate in the training indicates that the young legislators put the nation’s needs ahead of their own. There are high hopes for the 10th National Assembly’s inclusion and engagement of young people, which is addressed in the agenda. Without a doubt, there is a gap in the law; they’ve dedicated a session to analyzing bills and found many gaps in both the Constitution and the Electoral Act. They’re prepared to start making up for lost time as soon as they resume in September. The government as a whole will be more autonomous after these changes are made.

Moreso, Pastor Umo Eno, governor of Akwa Ibom State, represented there by his deputy, Akon Eyankenyi, spoke highly of the National Assembly as a venue to serve the people and wished the members a productive term in office. The governor expressed his appreciation for the young parliamentarians who stepped forward to serve, noting in his goodwill message that he had founded a business and leadership school in Uyo in which young people with strong ideas could be trained and have their ideas put to the test.

Legislative and judicial arms should be financially independent.

Senator Ita Enang, a resource person and former President Muhammadu Buhari Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters, spoke at the event and emphasized the importance of the executive arm fully complying with the provisions of the Constitution and allowing the legislative and judicial arms’ financial independence. Enang expressed disappointment that, notwithstanding the modification to the Constitution in that respect, no state governors had yet complied with the clause, and he urged the governor of Akwa Ibom State to lead by example.

He maintained that the executive arm should fully exercise its financial independence in accordance with the Constitution as amended. Sadly, not a single state has taken that step. It’s unpleasant that a governor was lauded for buying vehicles for legislators, as this is not the governor’s responsibility, and it’s more appropriate for the legislature to handle its own budget. So he entrusted the young legislators with the responsibility of making sure this was completely executed in each of their respective states.

Workshop aims to improve young legislators understanding.

Samson Itodo, Executive Director of the Yiaga Africa Centre for Legislative Engagement, stated that the primary goal of the workshop was to help the relatively new young legislators in the National Assembly become more familiar with the legislative process and improve their understanding of its procedures. They expect these young people to do well in their oversight roles, which include keeping the executive branch accountable and responding to the interests and concerns of the people they represent. The benefits of democracy can be realized through their ongoing, positive engagement with their citizens, he added.

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