Since 1999, Nigeria’s legislature has always been shrouded in secrecy as perceived by members of the general public. Nigeria has also maintained a closed-off status-quo under a one-party system that was characterized by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) remaining in power for sixteen years.
However, following the sweeping election victories of the All Progressives Congress (APC) earlier this year, on the 6th of August, the Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki challenged the APC-led Senate Committee on Rules and Business to evolve an e-parliament system. This system will work to foster transparency in the affairs of the Senate and open a new chapter in Nigeria’s legislative history.
With the implementation of an e-parliamentary system, it will no longer be business as usual in the Senate as Nigerians will be able to see activities happening in and around the senate.
This new development is a bridge that will link the Nigerian people to the senate; members of the public will be part of the legislative process, such that bills passed and those yet to be passed will be open for public scrutiny.
Aside from the establishment off an open system allowing the public an opportunity to be part of the entire assembly’s processes of law making, the issues concerning budgetary allocations and what each member of the senate earns will be made public; stopping what is currently being speculated in Nigeria media.
Under this system, members of the senate will have to work with a paperless system of operation, enabling work to be done in an easier and faster fashion. Every activity just or unjust will be speedily spread across senate members and members of the public.
Another vital feature of the e-parliament system will be the digitization of the assembly library, and also ability of Members of the Senate to access information from any location.
In addition to all these mentioned above, voting for bills, assets, salaries, allowances, will be made public. Applications will be created to enable members of the house cast their votes on any issue instead of saying “ayes” or “nays”. For example, the outcome of votes, accompanied by each senator’s bio data will be displayed on a public screen and also online for public view.
This I believe was triggered by the rising trend in information technology all over the world and Nigeria cannot be left behind. And also, Senator Bukola Saraki just like every Nigerian must have been tired with the modus operandi experienced in the senate over the years. In addition to this, the Senate President is living the dream of his party, the APC that preaches change and I believe Nigerians are beginning to experience the change indeed.
Recently, Senator Bukola hosted youths of the All Progressives Youth Forum (APYF) in his office, in commemoration of the World Youth Day. In the meeting, The Senate President highlighted key areas that the Senate is working on presently like; NNPC Act, Rice Waver, Infrastructure etc. He went further to inform everyone present that the Senate started the debate on finance committee report on OpenNASS. This as we all know is in line with the commitment of the 8th Assembly to maintainting transparency and accountability in the Senate.
Finally, the e-parliament system satisfies the call for #OpenNASS, as #OpenNASS stands to seek for transparency and accountability in the budget of the National Assembly. The e-parliament system will ensure total transparency; by encouraging openness in the war against corruption, and also satisfy the call by members of the civil society groups for full details of N120bn budgeted for the National Assembly this year.
This is one step that will fast track the growth we all seek; recreating the Nigeria of our dreams.