A SPEECH PRESENTED BY THE EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN OF AMUWO ODOFIN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, LAGOS STATE, NIGERIA, COMRADE ADEWALE AYODELE AT THE PARLIAMENTARY SUMMIT FOR FUTURE LEGISLATORS AND LEADERS, ORGANIZED BY THE STUDENTS REPRESENTATIVE COUNCIL OF YABA COLLEGE OF TECHNOLOGY, YABA- LAGOS STATE
Permit me to begin this speech by thanking the Students Representative Council of this great citadel of learning for organizing this pertinent event.
I am humbled and indebted by the decision of the organizer of this topical and august programme for considering me worthy to give a speech on this germane and contemporary subject of discussion.
As a former parliamentarian and SUG president of Lagos State University, Ojo, I accepted the invitation with utmost pleasure because of my interest and love for the progress of this nation.
My readiness to accept the invitation is also borne out of my desire to contribute my little quota, despite the challenging and daunting state responsibility.
Presently, yours truly is in Nantes, France attending the ECOCITY World Summit for local governments for sustainability (ICLEA). The programme constitutes a road map for transition towards a sustainable city including discussing how to reduce the ecological footprint, addressing the energy challenges, strengthening solidarity and mobilizing enabling factors, amongst others. This has been our efforts geared towards addressing the climate change adverse effect.
Without further compliments, I would like to do justice to the theme of this august occasion “Achieving Good Governance in Nigeria: The Role of the Legislature and the Student Parliament.”
Parliamentary Summit is the highest forum for the meeting of sound minds who have come together to discuss the salient issues pertaining to and affecting parliamentary activities all over the world, with particular focus on Nigeria.
Today, our focus is further directed to future parliamentary success in Nigeria, which is expected to be driven by the youths of today. A viable arena for today’s leaders commence their amateur parliamentary practices is in the various higher institutions of learning.
The Parliament is an indispensable organ of modern government all over the world, particularly for countries that have decided to practice a representative or democratic system of government.
The duties of the Parliament in these countries includes among other things; representation of their people, formulation of policies, bills and laws which is a response to the needs and yearnings of the people. They also support sustainable and equitable development. In Nigeria, the Parliament is known as the Legislature. Permit me therefore to use the two terms interchangeably.
Parliamentarians are the elected representatives of the citizens. They are directly responsible and accountable to the people. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides (in Section 14) that sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria. The people have however willingly elected to confer their sovereignty on a small group of people called the Parliament or Legislatures.
The Parliament must therefore always remember that they are not in office on their own volition or solely by their wish, but by the collective sovereign powers freely donated by the people. Some schools of thoughts call this process ‘the social contract theorem’.
The primary responsibility of parliamentarians, as most of you may already know is, to make good, workable and viable laws. Beyond this however, there are other germane duties expected of parliamentarians: the parliament must regularly interact and communicate with the citizens through what is popularly called Town Hall Meetings. It is from such interactions that the parliament will know what the interests and concerns of the people are, and upon such concerns, the parliamentarians will formulate their policies, prepare their bills, process their strategies and exhibit their programs. In a similar vein, parliamentarians must regularly visit their people, establish functioning constituency offices in their locality, and where administratively permitted, live within their wards and constituencies. This will enable the parliamentarians to have first-hand knowledge of the needs and feelings of the citizens.
Parliamentary process is a daunting task. It involves a lot of dedication and discipline. The Nigerian Constitution specifically sets out the process by which the Federal, State and Local Government Parliaments make laws. The Process usually involves the First reading of the Bill, Second reading, Committee stage, Report Stage, Committee of the Whole stage, Third reading and Endorsement of the Bill. Please find time to read sections 58, 60,100, 101 and Chapter 5 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Permit me at this juncture to focus on the roles of future Nigerian parliaments, who may still be in school today or who have already graduated, but have the intentions and desire to make a difference through parliamentary process in Nigeria.
As stated earlier on, the Parliament is a key institution of modern democracy which performs the basic role of enactment, repeal, revision and review of laws and regulations for the advancement and wellbeing of the society. To successfully carry out these daunting tasks, future parliamentarians must take note of the following points.
First, and very important, Parliamentarians must closely interact and relate with their People. No leader can lead in isolation or without followers. As a leader you must be prepared to mingle with your people, particularly because parliamentary position is an elective position.
As a student, hoping to become a parliamentarian, you must not distance yourself from your people. You must be able to successfully marry your books and your social activities. To associate and galvanize the support and votes of your colleagues, you must be of good character. That means you must be honest and trustworthy, diligent and serious with your academics, articulate in speech, and above all, you must respect your fellow man and have the fear of God in all that you do.
In addition to the above, you must possess the leadership qualities of selflessness and sacrifice, always willing to listen to other people and taking the concerns of the people as your concerns. These will eventually form the basis of legislative acumen, because you will gradually begin to know what the pains of the people in your community are, how to confront various man-made and natural challenges without complaining, how to resolve societal conflicts, and finally, how to formulate parliamentary policies.
A future parliamentarian must have role models at home and abroad who have distinguished themselves in parliamentary practices. I believe that it was such foresight that prompted the organizers of today’s event to invite distinguished parliamentarians in persons of the Senator representing Lagos-Central Senatorial District, the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, and the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly.
Senator Oluremi Tinubu was the former first Lady of Lagos State, with experience in diverse fields of human endeavors – Sciences, education, social studies and legislative matters. She has always been passionate about the promotion of the rights and dignity of the poor, disadvantaged and vulnerable members of the society. She established the New Era Foundation, dedicated to establishing centres for all round development of young ones and promotion of public awareness on environmental health and community service.
She is one of the APC legislators in the Senate that has revolutionize the upper legislative house, as can be clearly seen in the quality of the bills that she proposes to the house. Amongst others, she has proposed bills seeking social security for the elderly, protection for women from violation and harassment at home and in the workplace. I encourage student parliamentarians to adopt her as a role model.
In the same vein, Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal is a scholar who has not limited himself to the study of law alone. In addition to his law degree, he has wide knowledge in the area of telecommunications, marketing and economics. This has greatly influenced his parliamentary activities in the Federal House of Representatives.
He has not considered himself an island, but had a mentor and role model in Senator Abdullahi Wali, a former Senate Leader. It is from the latter that Rt. Hon. Tambuwal learnt parliamentary skills when he served in the capacity of Personal Assistant on Legislative Affairs from 1999 to 2000.
Hon. Tambuwal has since then risen to become the Chairman of several committees in the house.
He was also a former Minority Leader in the House and deputy Chip Whip. Today, he has risen to become the honourable Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives. Future Parliamentarians have a lot to learn from him.
Finally, and very importantly, let us examine the activities of the Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji.
A careful observer of the Lagos State House of Assembly will easily notice that Lagos State has become the hub, pride and envy of Africa and indeed the world, as far as law making, positive law review and complete revolution of laws in Nigeria is concerned.
Almost every other State in Nigeria today patiently waits for Lagos to go through the rigors of law enactments and review before they completely adopt same.
Examples of such revolutionized laws are the Criminal Law of Lagos State, Tenancy Law of Lagos State, Lagos State Pension Reform Law, Person Living with HIV/AIDS Law, Lagos State Waterfront Infrastructure Development Law, Child’s Right Law, and Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Law, just to mention a few.
In all, there is a total of not less than 96 unprecedented laws passes under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji in Lagos State House of Assembly.
All these Parliamentarians have indeed distinguished themselves in the different Parliamentary seats that they occupy.
I expect that future parliamentarians here present will watch their footsteps closely, studying the policies that they formulate, the bills that they propose, the laws that they have passed and the interactive relationship that they have established in their constituencies.
Parliamentarians get into office through the democratic will of electorates. It therefore behooves of Parliaments all over the world to be responsible and accountable to the generality of the people. The electorates reserve the right to call back or recall any parliamentarian that they perceive to be irresponsive or unworthy of the office he holds.
I therefore urge all future Parliamentarians here gathered today to be prepared; for the task ahead is daunting, yet possible, through determination and adherence to principles which I have gladly shared with you today.
In spite of this, it is important to recognize the efforts of some political structures and personalities that have, over time, considered and practically acknowledged the youths as foundation of political developments in Nigeria, by throwing open the political space for youths to explore.
Worthy of mention is one of the most visible progressive political party in Africa, the All Progressives Congress (APC) that is piloted by visionary leaders such as our indefatigable leader, my mentor and father, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the Revolutionary Jagaban.
The recent political revolution in Southwest Nigeria, which saw the emergence of youths assuming key elected offices, is a pointer to the fact that there could be a new dawn, only if the youths are ready to work it through the dusk.
Also, history is full with great lessons on how the youths of any generation have been instrumental to the political success of their state, the world over.
Practical examples also abound in our clime as evident testimony of the exploits of our youths in politics, for instance, the revolutionary escapade of our nationalists during the battle to tear down the dark curtain of colonialism.
Record has it that the late octogenarian and front line nationalist, Pa Anthony Enahoro was only 27years old when he moved the motion for Nigeria’s independence, and was 21years old when he became the editor of West African Pilot, making him the youngest editor in Nigeria till date. Same was Pa Abraham Adesanya of blessed memories, who became a member of the Nigeria lower house at the age of 21years.
Though, we do not encourage it, but for the purpose of this discuss, he is worth mentioning; General Yakubu Gowon was only 29 years old when he became the head of state and commander of the Nigeria arm forces and ruled this country.
The likes of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Pa Obafemi Awolowo, Alhaji Maitama Sule, J.T Takar, Micheal Opara, C. C Onu, and others too numerous to mention, were all in their 30’s when they fought for our flag of independence in this country.
We cannot also forget in a hurry how the Nigerian Students via National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS) and National Association of Nigeria Students, (NANS) stood up against military dictatorship as exemplified by General Olusegun Obasanjo, Gen. Ibrahim Babaginda, late General Sani Abacha amongst others.
The Nigerian Students defended the President Elect, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, popularly known as (MKO) during the struggle to reclaim the people’s mandate of June 12, 1993.
It should be stressed that, Nigerian Students also stood by the Nigerian Labour Congress and Civil Societies groups over the Uprising against the Nigerian people by the Federal Government, most especially during this civil rule, as a result of the various lusifanic/satanic increment in Petroleum pump prices.
Greatest Nigerian Students, let’s begin to walk the talk.
We should join forces with the progressives and ensure a virile country through the convening of a Sovereign National Conference and NOT the kind of conference that the Senate President, of Nigeria General David Mark (Rtd) is calling for.
May I conclude this speech by tasking the students’ legislature to mirror the workings of the National assembly at your various strata and give credible alternative if the need arises.
You should be at the front burner working out the answers to our various national questions via your parliamentary deliberations at your seatings and not throw chairs and punches at each other.
You are the future leaders of today and should work towards it.
Viva Nigerian Students
Thank you for listening.
Comrade Ayodele Adewale
Amuwo Odofin Local Government