Sanni Onogu, Abuja
Senate President Ahmad Lawan, on Friday, faulted calls for the scrap of one of the Chambers of the National Assembly, especially the Senate to reduce the high cost of governance.
He said that scrapping the Senate as being canvassed in some quarters may portend unintended consequences for the country.
He however called on those not happy with Senators in the 9th National Assembly to vote them out during the 2023 general elections.
Lawan made these assertions in Abuja while declaring open a retreat for top management staff of the National Assembly and the National Assembly Service Commission in Abuja.
The three-day event was jointly put together by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) and the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).
The Senate President described the Red Chamber as a leveler which ensure that all parts of the country are equally represented unlike the House of Representatives where states with higher population produce highest number of lawmakers.
He also flayed those asking that the upper chamber should be jettisoned as a result of the perceived jumbo pay for Senators.
He insisted that the annual budget of the National Assembly is less than one per cent of the nation’s 2021 budget.
Lawan said: “Without the National Assembly and the legislature across the country, what you have is not democracy anymore.
“So the value of the legislature and National Assembly to Nigerians is democracy. If you take out the legislature, it might not be a dictatorship but certainly not a democracy.
“So when we always debate on jumbo pay and not the functions of the National Assembly – what we are able to do and what we are not able to do.
“Ask for what you think we should be doing rather than saying close down the Senate or the National Assembly. Do you understand the implications of what would happen if we close the Senate? I am not saying because I am in the Senate.
“The Senate is a leveller because in the House of Representatives, population is major – that is why some states will have five, six members and others have up to 20.
“So if you say close down the Senate, there will be a day when people will cry foul.
“In the Senate, what Kano produces is what Bayelsa will produce. Three senators in Kano and three senators in Bayelsa, so that stabilises the system.
“In a budget of N13 trillion, the National Assembly will get about N125billion to N128billion. That is less than 1 percent. So where is the remaining 99 percent?
“I am not here to defend the National Assembly but I’m here to encourage the debate on what it means to us as country.
“If you don’t like the set of members in the Ninth National Assembly, change all of us in 2023. Get better people. Let’s support the system to function.”