By Adelaja Adeoye
I woke up today to the news of the test running of e-voting gadgets at the upper chambers of Nigeria’s National Assembly. Wow! This is tantalizing for some of us who are ‘techie’ in nature because it’s great and exciting news that proves our country is now advancing in the use of technology for the conduct of legislative businesses.
Since the advent of this 8th Assembly ably led by Senate President Bukola Saraki, it has been one innovation or the other to make legislative work easier for all the participants, be it the Senators or the citizens they are there to represent.
If I want to be fair in my judgement of things, I will not move further without giving credit to the young chaps working directly with the Senate as aides to make the implementation of these great innovations possible, one of such, if not the lead youth in innovation is Mr. Bankole Omisore. He is the SA on New media to the President of the Senate and head of NASSTV, I say well done guys.
Now, the main issue is the easy way in which the citizens connect directly to activities of the Senate on social media. There have been no time in the history of Nigeria that citizens had the opportunity to connect freely and contribute to the activities of Senate like this current 8th Assembly, I also agree that a lot can still be done to catch up with the western world.
There was a time some politicians, for selfish gains, sponsored some social media trends that the Senate should be scrapped.
The Senate, in my own view, has done a fantastic job with the number of bills they have initiated and passed. This Senate is very serious with her legislative duties despite the challenges facing it from politicians in the country.
As I write, social media is agog because of the constitution review ongoing at the Senate. A lot of bills which had been tactically killed in the past has resurfaced. Senators now have ample reasons to corporate and support the citizens through formulation of pro-peoples bills such as reduction in age for candidates running for President, Senate, House of Reps, etc.
Another wonderful bill the Senate has dusted up is the 35% affirmative action to allow women participate in politics at both Federal and States level. This bill will reduce the stress and cut throat competitions women have to face before getting into elective or appointive offices.
With reduction in age bracket for participation in political offices, more brilliant Nigerian youths will begin to show interest in joining politics instead of handing them social media jobs and other non-dignifying roles within politics.
Of course, I won’t end this opinion piece well if I don’t talk about the Local government autonomy bill and powers of INEC to conduct Local Government elections. In the Nigeria of today, only few governors will allow oppositions to win major seats in local elections, this does not in anyway reflect the democracy we have been craving for, this singular bill will make Nigerians and all lovers of Democracy to continue to remember the 8th Assembly and Dr. Bukola Saraki as the real hero of democracy.
The past administrations played politics with this very bill and finally, a man with a heart for the progress of the country has stepped up to ensure that right things are done for the people.
The revolution going on in the Senate is unprecedented. Its in the way nigerians can now connect online and watch proceedings and other activities of the Senate in a live broadcast either through NASSTV, Radio or via social media live streaming or the live tweet feed which also takes feedback and responds immediately via (@NGRSenate) on Twitter and Facebook.
The Bukola Saraki’s Senate has removed the wide gap between the good people of Nigeria and the Senate, the Senate is becoming more open and transparent daily because of the technological advancements being adopted and implemented in the course of their legislative duties which has removed certain barriers.
Again, Nigerians should also appreciate the fact that it is not a coincidence but a deliberate effort and act of Bukola’s leadership to implement all these digitalization and revolutions going on in the Nigerian Senate. In the past, several activities of the Senate were done without the public, when Nigerians were clamoring that the Senate should make open their budgets line items #OPENass, Senator Saraki did not hesitate to do so because there is nothing to hide as the service is truly for the masses.
I want to encourage the Lower houses and state assemblies to emulate and learn from the Senate on how they have brought legislative work closer to the people they are representing, the executives should also make their activities open for the benefit of the masses and not self serving.
If the Senate can continue in this manner and Saraki’s future successor not only sustains but improves on the laid down development in the Senate, Nigeria will be better of in a couple of years.
Adelaja Adeoye Is A Social Commentator, Blogger And Pro-Democracy Campaigner who Writes From Lagos Nigeria. Tweet Via @AdelajaAdeoye
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