By Oloniruha Emmanuel
Chief Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has described the 8th National Assembly (NASS) as the best so far in the legislative history of Nigeria.
Ozekhome, in a statement he issued on Thursday in Abuja, said that the 8th assembly proved its independence right from the emergency of its principal officers.
He said the 8th NASS was the best in terms of sheer productivity and daring insistence on being truly independent of the Executive arm of government.
He said that the assembly displayed its independent when it insisted it was its inalienable right to produce its leadership in accordance with section 50 of the 1999 Constitution.
According to him, the assembly resisted the dictatorial, whimsical, capricious and arbitrary desire of any political party.
“The 8th NASS has held sacrosanct the hallowed doctrine of Separation of Powers, as ably propounded by great philosophers of yore and famously dilated upon in 1748 by the great French philisopher, Baron de Montesque.
“In the entire legislative history of Nigeria, the 8th NASS has passed the greatest number of pro-masses motions, resolutions and bills (into Acts of parliament) than any Legislature before it.
“It has also incubated and thrown up the most daring, courageous and brave Legislators that spoke truth to power and authority, at the perilous risk to their lives, families and properties,” he said.
Ozekhome advised future National Assembly to emulate the 8th assembly in upholding its independence.
He said, “Future NASS should and must take a cue from the 8th NASS, that it is an independent arm of government, specifically created by section 4 of the 1999 Constitution, to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of Nigeria.
“Though, expected to cooperate with the Executive, it must not do so at the expense of its own independence as an arm of government that participates in the inbuilt constitutional checks and balances.
“It is not a rubber stamp to executive desires and nuances.
“Any NASS worthy of its name as the present one, must rise up and use its oversight powers under sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution to check the excesses of the other Judicial and Executive arms of government.”
These, according to him, include the usually intolerant, overbearing, dictatorial, arm-twisting and imperious Executive arm that controls the coercive “apparatchik” of state power and forces.
“A NASS must defend the Nigerian people at all times because governments, like soldiers, come and go, while the barracks (the people, the real owners of power) remain.
“They constitute the dog that wags the tail (government),” he said.