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Legislative Oversight And Good Governance In Plateau State PDF

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1     Background to the study

Legislature serve as essential constituent for any democratic government and major factor in its sustenance, its existence predates the advent of modern democracy.  It has been noted that the emergence of the legislature dates back to the twelve century and a product of medieval European civilization transformed in the age of democracy to suit the needs of contemporary political systems (Loewenberg 2015). Boynton (2001) states that before and after the 2nd world war after colonialism failed, nations grew in number, constitutions incorporate national legislature to replace extant governing institutions throughout the world while their influence of legislature continue to be on the rise in 21st century approaches. The popularity of the legislature cannot be divorced from the wave of democratic growth across the continents.  Indeed, if democracy is a system anchored on the informed and active participation of the people, the legislature is a vehicle for equal and wider representation (Yaqub 2004). The existence of legislative institution comprises representatives of the people as a hallmark of democratic government from non-democratic ones. The legislature differs in composition from one system of government to another as well as in their mode of representation.  For instance, in a parliamentary system, members of the legislature are fused with members of the executive while in the presidential system; the legislature and executive are separated from other arms of government by different individuals to promote good governance. However, the legislators are elected in some countries like Nigeria, while in some other countries they are appointed.  In spite of the differences in legislatures across the world, they have a common structural character that distinguishes them from other arms of government in a democracy.  The common feature of legislator is their relation between members is not that of authority and subordination but that of equality of members since they derive their authority from being representatives of the people (Saliu 2004). The legislature may exercise different functions from time to time depending on the political system; the two cardinal principles of legislatures in democratic a setting is law making and acting as watchdog on behalf of the people, without which democracy becomes messed up. Odinga (1994) noted that:  

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If the constitution is the embodiment of the aspirations, ideals and collective will of the people, the parliament is the collective defender and watchdog of the aspiration, ideals and collective will of the people.  If the constitution is the social contract between the people and government, the parliament is the advocate for the people and the arbiter of the national interest.  Indeed, if the constitution is like the Bible, Quran and other religious treatises the covenant between the people and their leaders, the parliament is the repository and protector of the oracles of the political covenant and social contract between the people and government.

Consequently, for any democracy to grow, the legislature not only make laws for the good ordering of the society (including appropriation laws) but must as well ensure that such laws and others are not violated by other arms like the executive (Poteet, 2010). This it does this by acting as watch-dog over their policies through its oversight function. Most constitutions tend to document these two important functions of the legislature (Taiwo & Fajingbesi, 2004). In other words, legislatures accomplish their tasks through men and women of proven integrity and good character that eschew temptations of falling to such issues legislated against.  It is by this action that the legislature can be considered as a sub-unit of good governance and democratic sustenance.

Section 4, (1), (2), (6) and (7) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria vests the legislative powers in the National Assembly, as well as its sub-national entities, the state Houses of Assembly. Section 4 (2) specifically empowers the National Assembly to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the country. Section 4 (1) part II of the 1999 Federal Republic of Nigeria constitution states:

…the legislative powers of the federal republic of Nigeria shall be vested in a National Assembly for the Federation which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.

 

Thus, the oversight power of the legislature is to hold all state’s institutions accountable. According to Bello-Imam (2004), the oversight function of the legislature is crucial in making and reviewing the actions of the executive organ of government.

In most democracies and particularly in Nigeria, the goal of the oversight is to make sure that public policy serves the public interest (Obiyan, 2011). Essentially, the oversight functions of the legislature put the executive in check and carry the balancing effect for good governance. As noted by Obadan (2003), Ndoma-Egba (2012) and Adeola (2017), one prominent area of oversight is fiscal policy. Parliament has a responsibility to use public policy in a manner that would promote good governance. To ensure this, government finances are put under the scrutiny of legislative process. The performance of the National Assembly with respect to its oversight function has attracted different views, given its relevance to the ideal of good governance for the Nigerian state. Hence, this study appraises the role of the legislature in its oversight function; focusing on the extent to which the institution is transparent, accountable, and credible in its operation since June 3, 1999 when the Fourth Republic was inaugurated in Nigeria.

 

1.2     Statement of the problem

One of the fundamental functions of the National Assembly in Nigeria besides law making and amendment, is the oversight function. Legislative Oversight constitutes a core function of the National Assembly on governance and public office management.

The oversight function of the legislature is to hold all state’s institutions accountable with a view to promoting accountability and transparency. The Nigeria’s National Assembly has not done enough to meet people’s expectations in its use of oversight functions (Abiola, 2012; Nwagwu, 2014; Oye, 2018). Besides, there have been allegations of corrupt practices against some members of the Assembly which have made the case to appear as if “the probers have become the ones being probed” (Obasanjo, 2012:24). However, with allegations of corruption against the national lawmakers; transparency and accountability which are the core indicators of good governance are being undermined.

The National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives) constituted over 80 Oversights/Probe Panels investigating various instances of alleged corruption, gulping millions of Naira in the conduct of the exercises (oversights), yet corruption and corrupt practices continued to fester in the Federal Public Service (Nairaland, 2012). It seems imperative to understand and appreciate why corruption seemingly and systemically institutionalized in the Federal Public Service, and the Legislative Power in curbing corruption incapacitated. It is therefore against the backdrop of this study that the researcher deemed it important to investigate the legislative oversight and good governance in plateau state

 

1.3     Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study is to examine the legislative oversight and good governance in plateau state.

The specific objectives of this study are to:

  1. Examine the constitutional provisions of the National Assembly to use oversight function in Nigeria.
  2. Discuss cases of lack of transparency, accountability and effectiveness in the discharge of legislative oversight in Plateau state.
  3. Identify challenges of the National Assembly in carrying out oversight function in Plateau state.

 

1.4     Research questions

  1. What is the constitutional provisions of the National Assembly to use oversight function in Nigeria?
  2. What are the cases of lack of transparency, accountability and effectiveness in the discharge of legislative oversight in Plateau state?
  3. Identify challenges of the National Assembly in carrying out oversight function in Plateau state?

 

1.5     Hypothesis of the study

HO1: There are no constitutional provisions of the National Assembly to use oversight function in Nigeria.

HO2: There are no challenges of the National Assembly in carrying out oversight function in Plateau state.

 

1.6     Significance of the study

Until recently, National Assembly Oversight is one critical area in Governance and Public Administration in Nigeria that has attracted little attention in the academics. Thus, literatures on Oversight are scanty, hence the few we reviewed concentrated more on general functions, roles and relationship of the Legislative Arm of Government with the Executive Arm.

In essence, the perspective of this research is significantly on the role of Legislative Probes and General Oversight Functions of the legislative Arm in curbing corruption in the Nigeria’s Federal Public Service. Thus an appraisal of the National Assembly in that direction is intended to show the supposed Legislative Oversight/Probes as a very significant enterprise in curbing corruption.

Hence, the overriding significance of this study is to add up to the growing literature on legislative oversight and corruption in Nigeria Federal Public Service in order to enriched body of knowledge.

 

1.7     Scope and delimitation of the study

This study is carried out on legislative oversight and good governance in Plateau state. The general focus of the study is on the National Assembly’s Oversight Functions with respect to corruption in the Nigerian Federal Public Service.

The researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;

  1. a) Availability of research material: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
  2. b) Time: The period allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
  3. c) Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

 

1.8     Operational definition of terms

Good governance: In international development, good governance is a way of measuring how public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources in a preferred way. Governance is “the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented.

Governance: Governance comprises all of the processes of governing – whether undertaken by the government of a state, by a market or by a network – over a social system and whether through the laws, norms, power or language of an organized society.

Government: A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, often a state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature, executive, and judiciary.

Legislative Oversight: The process by which the legislative bodies take active role in understanding and monitoring the performance of the executive arm of government and apply such knowledge to its primary functions of: law making and public policy; budget setting; and revenue generations. A Legislature must know and understand the operations of government in order to make informed decisions on the laws to pass and the financial decisions to make.

Legislature: A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority to make laws for a political entity such as a country or city. Legislatures form important parts of most governments; in the separation of powers model, they are often contrasted with the executive and judicial branches of government.

Sanctions: The ability of the National Assembly to sanction actions/inactions and decisions of the Federal Public Service that run contrary to given mandate.

Transparency: Sufficient information is available so that other agencies and the general public can assess whether the relevant procedures are followed, consonant with given mandate.

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