Aisha Yesufu urges FG to abolish Senate for cost-cutting measures

During an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos, a prominent political and civil rights activist, Aisha Yesufu, advocated for the elimination of the Nigerian Senate as a means to reduce the country’s governance expenses.

Yesufu, who is the co-founder of the Bring Back Our Girls Movement, responded to suggestions from various quarters to abandon the bicameral legislature model in favor of a unicameral system to streamline the cost of governance.

A unicameral legislature operates with a single chamber, unlike a bicameral legislature that consists of two chambers (Senate and House of Representatives).

Noteworthy countries with unicameral legislatures include China (National People’s Congress), Sweden (Riksdag), Norway (Storting), Denmark (Folketing), and Portugal (Assembly of the Republic).

Yesufu suggested that Nigeria could also explore reintroducing the parliamentary system of government as an alternative approach to curb the hefty financial allocations directed towards the National Assembly.

She emphasized the urgency of addressing the bloated expenses and corruption within the government structure to ensure that Nigerians can truly experience the benefits of democracy.

“It is imperative for us to thoroughly reassess our democratic system and adopt a framework that is cost-effective and beneficial for the common citizens. The current system is excessively costly, and we must trim down expenses instead of perpetuating a model that has not adequately served the Nigerian populace.

“I strongly endorse the proposal for a unicameral legislature given the exorbitant nature of our current governance system.

“As a nation, we do not possess the financial resources to sustain such a setup. Additionally, the Senate and House of Representatives often duplicate tasks, rendering their functions redundant,” remarked Yesufu.

Critically, she pointed out that the Senate has devolved into a “retirement haven for many ineffectual former governors who failed to prioritize the welfare of their states’ residents”.

According to her, this has resulted in an ongoing burden on the nation’s resources allocated annually to these political “retirees” in the Senate.

Yesufu highlighted, “The Senate has become a mockery; it is challenging to differentiate their functionalities from those of the House of Representatives.

“Senators do not offer distinct services, yet they receive substantial remuneration and allowances for essentially duplicating efforts.

“It has been observed that a significant number of them, particularly former governors, receive significant salaries in addition to state pensions.

“This mismanagement of public funds, which could otherwise enhance the well-being of the common citizen, obstructs the effectiveness of democracy.”

She cited the example of Senegal, which adopted a unicameral legislature after abolishing the Senate for the second time in September 2012.

“The House of Representatives is fully equipped to handle legislative duties, oversight functions, and other responsibilities typically managed by the legislative branch.

“Nigeria should embrace a unicameral legislature due to the prohibitive costs and administrative inefficiencies associated with bicameralism.

“The current model is unsustainable given the economic hardships faced by the populace,” she emphasized.

Yesufu lamented the absence of a genuine federal structure in Nigeria’s governance system.

Expanding on her proposals, she recommended exploring the parliamentary system as a means to further reduce governance expenses.

She contended that Nigeria’s current presidential system is no longer viable.

“Transitioning to a parliamentary system would significantly slash governance costs. The head of state would function as a primus inter pares among other elected representatives.

“Under this arrangement, ministers are drawn from elected parliamentarians, thereby substantially reducing governance expenses in contrast to the current practice of appointing separate individuals as ministers,” she elaborated.

The activist stressed that both the bicameral legislature and presidential system have strained the nation’s resources.

“By adopting a parliamentary system, the nation stands to achieve substantial reductions in governance costs.

“The Prime Minister’s powers would be curtailed in this system, as ministers are also members of the parliament, fostering a more streamlined and cost-effective governance structure,” she concluded.

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