Legislators And Oversight Functions

Plans by the Federal Government to employ 744,000 Nigerians across the 744 local government areas have already generated a face-off between the National Assembly and the Ministry of Employment, Labour and Productivity.

While the National Assembly is insisting to have a comprehensive detail about the modalities and criteria for the planned massive employment, the ministry is not particularly forthcoming but seems to want to do it all alone.

As a result, the National Assembly this week put the would-be lofty programme on hold until the ministry would furnish the legislators about the full operations of the intended employment.

There is no doubt about it that the actions of the National Assembly so far in this matter are within its ambit as empowered by the constitution.

In exercising its oversight functions, the National Assembly has all the rights to demand more answers from the Ministry of Employment regarding the programme, and should be readily answered.

Such a drama unfolding between the National Assembly and the Labour Ministry is part of the beauty of democracy where there is a mechanism for checks and balances among the three arms of government.

What the National Assembly is doing is nothing more than simply asking to be fully briefed at every step of the employment and should in no way be viewed as serving a query on the ministry. After all it was the National Assembly that approved the N52billion budget for the programme and it has the right to know how it is to be implemented.

On the whole, Nigeria’s democracy is gravitating successfully so far following the synergy between the three arms of government. Therefore, the seeming debacle over the issue should not be regarded as a conflict but ingredients necessary to oil the wheels of democracy.

It is hoped that while the National Assembly continues to perform its oversight functions, the harmony among the three arms of government would be maintained.

Nigeria’s democracy is coming of age as the actors are beginning to have mutual respect for one another and to play by the rules. That is why the National Assembly is increasingly being alive to its oversight functions in a manner that is not rancorous with the executive.

For example, the Assembly graciously passed the budget for the programme and it therefore behooves that it should be properly briefed on the implementation.

Legislators should be encouraged in their oversight functions to create checks and balances. It is widely observed that while the National Assembly is well alive to its oversight functions, many of the state houses of assembly are not so diligent about it.

As a result, many of them have gone to sleep and left all to the executive to run the affairs of the states.

Oversight functions are integral parts of democracy and the responsibilities of legislators to carry out regularly for the overall benefits of the society.

A lot of issues are arising these days and are begging for answers. Therefore legislators at the national and state levels must continue to exercise their oversight functions and ask probing questions where necessary.

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