By Rafiu Ajakaye
LAGOS, Nigeria (AA)- Nigerians on Thursday slammed their parliamentarians for what they reportedly consider to be a poor performance a year after the eighth national assembly was inaugurated, with many saying the lawmakers have done little to justify the mandate given to them by the voters.
The country operates a bicameral legislature modeled after the United States'.
“They haven't done anything and I reckon that they are in fact worse than the previous parliament. We really don't have a parliament in the real sense of it, what we have are people pursuing their selfish interest,” Austin Imuoh, a teacher of history and diplomacy at Lagos State University told Anadolu Agency.
“I don't see what they have done beyond escorting one of their own (Senate President Bukola Saraki) to court where he is answering to charges of corruption. How bad can things get? They are answering a bunch of jokers,” he added.
An opinion poll by Order Paper, a watchdog group monitoring the activities of the legislature, also revealed that most Nigerians are unhappy with the lawmakers.
“Only 21 percent of 108 respondents who took part in the poll would be re-electing their senator based on his/her performance so far,” the watchdog group said on Thursday in a report titled #NASSReportCard, or the National Assembly Report Card.
“The results from the poll have pointed to a low level of trust and confidence by Nigerians on members of parliament,” the group added.
Access Information, another civic group, said the leadership of the parliament has not been transparent in the handling of the budget for the National Assembly.
“The NASS has spent a year spending public money without detailed budgeting and appropriations. No transparency, no accountability,” the group said in a statement on its twitter page.
Sesugh Akume, an activist and public affairs commentator, agreed.
“The National Assembly has performed poorly, especially the Senate. It has failed to be transparent in its administration of its […]budget. If they aren't accountable, what moral right do they have of oversight on others,” Akume told Anadolu Agency.
“This eighth National Assembly is a travesty even by their own previous very low, mediocre standards. It has been a tragicomedy theater of absurdity on a daily and weekly basis. What makes it worse is I think they are taking everyone for granted,” he added.
Senate President Bukola Saraki however rated the parliament high in a speech commemorating its first anniversary.
“Over the last year we have charted a new course and a new direction for lawmaking. One which has placed emphasis on leading by example,” according to Saraki who recently admitted that his corruption case has been a “huge distraction”.
He faces some 16 charges, including false assets declaration and illegal operation of foreign accounts. He has denied wrongdoing.