Former Governors Have Turned Senate Into Retirement Home- NILDS DG


The Director General of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Prof Abubakar Sulaiman, has said that former governors have turned the Senate into retirement home, adding that it must be stopped by all means.

Sulaiman said this at the 2022 Press Week of the House of Representatives Press Corps.

He said “The legislature is too important to be the retirement home of governors and other executive bigwigs. All efforts must be put in place to change this trend”.

Sulaiman, a former Minister for National Planning, deplored what he called executive rascality by governors.

He said they most times decide which lawmaker gets a ticket in every election circle.

Sulaiman advocated constitutional review as a way of addressing the ugly trend.

He noted over 130 out of the 360 House members will not stand for reelection, a figure that could rise.

He said “Another possible intervention to stem the high turnover is legislative action by way of amendment to our constitution.

“This could be by prescribing more years for the legislative tenure to stem the incursion of the retired governors and other executives.

“The legislature is too important to be the retirement home of governors and other executive bigwigs.

“All efforts must be put in place to change this trend. We still need to go back to the drawing board in the area of constitutional amendment.

“I don’t know what a 70-year-old former governor will be doing in the Senate.

“That is the age to be worshipping God and praying for the forgiveness of your sins; 70 years is the age to be begging God and confessing your sins because politicians are sinners.”

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According to Sulaiman, since the return of democracy in 1999, one of the major challenges threatening the institutionalisation of the legislature in Nigeria has been the high rate of turnover of legislators.

This, he said, affects the capacity of the institution.

He believes the domineering influence of governors who control parties’ structures and delegates during primaries remains a big challenge.

“Most legislators perceived not to be friendly or constituting a threat to the interest of the governors or their preferred candidates are usually denied return tickets at primaries stage,” he said.

Sulaiman claimed the governors usually manipulate the parties’ machinery to work against the return bid of lawmakers who are not in their good books.

He added: “This turnover results in the erosion and weakening of institutional memory, slow rate of membership maturity, incompetence of the legislators and general legislative development.

“With over 130 members of the House already out of the contest, there are fears that the number of lawmakers that will return may further deplete.

This indicates that the number of fresh lawmakers in the incoming 10th Assembly House in 2023 may be higher than the last assembly.”

The former minister believes there is a need to change the entry qualification for candidates contesting legislative seats to a minimum of first degree or its equivalent.

Suleiman called for a “rigorous overhaul of the nation’s recruitment process into the parliament”.

Also, House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabimila, said the high turnover rate of legislators was impacting the legislature negatively.

Gbajabiamila said if not checked, the high turnover will continue to negatively impact the quality of legislation.

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Represented by the Deputy Majority Leader, Peter Akpatason, the Speaker said the more experienced parliamentarians are, the better for democracy.

Clerk to the House of Representatives, Yahaya Danzari, said the high turnover of lawmakers erodes legislative stability and institutional memory.

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