Italy will save more than a billion euro over the next 10 years by offloading deadweight from its democratic representatives. Other nations with bloated parliamentary size, particularly Great Britain, has eccentrically been called out to follow suit.
So the Italians have decided that, while you cannot have a surfeit of la dolce vita, you can certainly have too much political representation: they’ve decided by referendum to slash by a third the total number of representatives sitting in their Chamber of Deputies and Senate.
In an act of sudden and legally-binding ‘social distancing’ imposed on the powerbrokers in Rome, as per the ballot box, Italy will now have 400 elected members sitting in its lower chamber, down from 630, and just 200 senators sitting in a senate where 315 formerly occupied the benches.
Howbeit, it would be agreed that the Nigerian parliament has a lesser quantum of representation in the parliament, in contrast to Italy. However, the Italian result has beckoned, once again, on the need to scrap the Nigeria Senate.
Over the years, there have been several debates, and agitations over the size of Nigeria’s federal legislative arm, the National Assembly, comprising the Senate and House of Representatives. The debates have been further buoyed by the huge financial resources expended yearly, from the nation’s budget to maintain the 469 members that make up both chambers.
A comparison of lawmakers’ pay by the London based magazine, The Economist in 2013, shows Nigerian lawmakers topping the chart as highest paid. Leaving South-Africa, United States of America to the fifth and thirteenth places respectively, Nigerian lawmakers, despite the high level of poverty in the land, eat the better part of the country’s budget.
Recurrently, the composition of the Senate has posed to be a waste of our country’s resources. It is a an assembly of rotten politicians and a conglomerate of thieving ex governors. With Senators constantly on the loop to amass public wealth and sit to attend to selfish desires, a prompt action has been necessitated.
While self-interest, cronyism and addiction to power is universal and makes reform without real commitment impossible, Rome has shown that consensus for change can be built. The method employed, however, has oppressively proven that such reform will never see the day in Nigeria.
Rights violation, lack of respect for rule of law and utter contempt for democratic ethos constitutes a major impediment to any serious constitutional reform. This is also complicated by an electoral system that is completely rigged against the people and a courts that protects only a privileged few. Ours is a completely shattered system such that any agitation around reform will be a complete far cry from what could prove as a solution. Hence, any attempt at such legislative reforms viz a much needed scrap of the senate will require a people that must be prepared to take a revolutionary stand.