Rochas Okorocha, the senator representing Imo West Senatorial District, has argued for a cut in the cost of running the legislature.
This can be done by reducing the number of lawmakers representing each state in the Senate to one and in the House of Representatives to three, he said.
This would bring the total number of federal lawmakers to 146, from the current 469, a 69 per cent reduction.
He said this at the floor of the Senate on Thursday while reacting to the report presented by the Committee on Finance and National Planning on the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Planning Strategy Paper (FSP).
“What (are) three senators doing that one senator cannot do?” Mr Okorocha asked, amidst murmur in the House.
“Here, we have three senators per state. In that National Assembly (House of Representatives) over there, we have 360 eligible human beings. This country must begin to make sacrifices and cut down the cost of governance.
“I do not know what we are doing differently today in the 9th Senate from what we did in the 8th Senate and what we did in the 7th Senate, 6th Senate and so forth and so on. And if what we are doing today is similar to what we did in the 8th Senate be rest assured the product will be the same.”
“I pleaded with you just two days ago Mr President,” he went on, directing his address to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, “‘Change your style. If you change your style you will get a new result.”
The Senate President quickly interrupted, asking, “how do we change our style?”, a question that erupted laughter on the floor of the House.
Mr Okorocha took the floor again. “Let’s proffer solutions and not creating more problems for the executives. They are waiting for us. What do we have different to show? The summary of what we have been talking about is money, we don’t have enough funds to support the needs of Nigerians, to create jobs and put food on the table of the common man.
“This problem arises from the fact that we depend on only one source of income which is crude oil, which consists of over 50% of our revenue and 90% of our foreign reserves, and this oil is static. We should look inwards. Let’s cut our clothes according to our materials, not our sizes. The budget of Nigeria is cut according to our size not the material available, and according to the solution.”
Mr Lawan then advised Mr Okorocha to sponsor a bill which would amend the part of the constitution that provides the current representative number in both Houses.
Section 48 of the constitution provides for three senators from each of the 36 states of the federation and one from the FCT (totalling 110). Also, section 49 provides for 360 members of the House of the Representatives elected from the constituencies in each state of the federation.
Only a constitutional amendment can thus lead to the kind of reform that Mr Okorocha calls for.
Mr Okorocha joins a growing list of Nigerians who have called for a reduction in the cost of maintaining the legislature.
Unlike Mr Okorocha, however, many Nigerians have simply asked the lawmakers to cancel their illegal allowances and slash the legal ones.
A coalition of civic groups recently sued the Senate for deciding to spend billions of naira to purchase new cars for its members amidst the tough economic situation and lean resource of government.