Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has said that the legislature is critical to the success of democracy.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has said that the indispensable, complex and multidimensional role of the legislature as a critical institution for social transformation cannot be overemphasised in a democracy.
Governor Ugwuanyi made the assertion while delivering the 55th Founders’ Lecture of the University ofNigeria (UNN) yesterday at the Princess Alexandra Unity Hall and Theatre of the institution.
With the theme: “Legislation as Instrument of Social Justice in a growing Democracy,” Ug- wuanyi contended that in the face of the increasing popularity of democracy in Nigeria and the attendant shift of institutional paradigm towards the good of the people, the constitutional mandate of the legislature is far from being self-arrogated.
According to the governor, “the mandate is not based on the rules of the thumb – it is an established reality rooted in the body of laws upon which the operations of the state is based.
“Put differently, the Legislature is both a producer and a product of the law.”
Ugwuanyi who was a member of the House of Representa- lives from 2003 to 2015 before becoming the Governor of the state, stated that the ultimate goal for which government is established all over the world is to add value and improve on the well being of the citizenry.
“This means that the people are the essence of government; without the people, there can be no government. In other words, government exists for the good of the people and it is the people who give meaning and legitimacy to the government,” he explained.
Speaking specifically on the role of the Legislature towards instituting change, Ugwuanyi made it clear that justice must be anchored on the provision of just and equal opportunities conditional upon the avoidance of poverty, the provision of education but also increased market integration, gender equality or the provision of social security.
The governor stated: “There is emerging evidence of its contributions towards ensuring social justice.
Ugwuanyi disagreed with what he described as, “unfortunate pervasive perception that
the National Assembly has not generally functioned as an instrument for sustaining democracy.
“However, the landscape of the legislative institution is fairly uneven across the country, and much more needs to happen before significant impacts on social justice can be durable and sustained.
He also noted that two critical areas of concern which appear to have deleterious consequences on the ability of the National Assembly members to act as harbingers of democratic change are the rising attrition in the number of returning members which currently stand at about 30% in the past twelve (12) years; and the downward spiral in members’ image.
He urged the Legislature, especially the National Assembly to open up its legislative process and financial transactions, particularly the salaries and allowances of members to the scrutiny and input of the public.
According to him, “This will go a long way in correcting the pervading and largely impression that the Assembly is a compromised institution whose membership earn so much and do so little.”
In his address of welcome, The Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Benjamin Ozumba went down memory lane and recalled how Nigeria’s first President, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe conceived the University of Nigeria and how the institution, with the active support from the United States and the United Kingdom became a citadel of academic excellence.
Ozumba affirmed that true to Azikiwe’s vision, the University ofNigeria had in no small measure shaped the lives and character of the Nigerian people.
He described the university as a result of strategic planning which has today benefited the the society immensely.
Professor Ozumba said: “Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe reiterated some of the postulation he had earlier made in Renascent Africa. A university should shape the destinies of individuals, race and nations, while materials to be studied should be made to be subservient to things intellectual in all shapes and forms, and emphasise the aristocracy of mind over matter.”
The Vice Chancellor, with delight announced the renewal of the commitment which guided the school, adding, “In the Journals consortium, the University of Nigeria is second in Nigeria and 13 th in Africa. I assure you, without fear of contradiction, that the next ranking will be great joy to our stakeholders.”
Former Minister of Information, Chief Barrister John Nnia Nwodo was the chairman of the Anniversary lecture.
The University of Nigeria, Nsukka was established in 1960 by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, first President of Nigeria.
– Amah Baldwin, Enugu