OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative has asked voters to priotise the election of lawmakers into the national and state assemblies.
In a statement, Oke Epia, executive director of the organisation, said there is “near total neglect of happenings” around voting for members of the legislature.
Describing the legislature as the “fulcrum of representative democracy”, Epia said its members have a mandate to exercise powers on behalf of the people.
The executive director said Nigerians should be guided in their choices because billions of naira are expended by those representing them with “very little to show.”
“This is because the prime place of the parliament as a co-equal arm of government in a presidential democracy as is currently practiced in Nigeria cannot be over-emphasized. The legislature is the fulcrum of representative democracy and its members have a mandate to exercise powers on behalf of the people of Nigeria,” he said.
“The 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) unambiguously in section 4(2) says the national assembly shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of Nigeria.
“The grundnum clearly spells out in details the roles and functions of the legislature. It is therefore an unassailable fact that the stability of the nation and enjoyment of the dividends of democracy by citizens is undeniably contingent on this arm of government. In other words, the inter-relationship between the executive and legislative arms of government is a most critical factor in the execution of the social contract between leaders and the led in a democracy.
“The frosty and fractious state of affairs that has defined much of the inter-relations between the Muhammadu Buhari presidency and the incumbent 8th national assembly, which negatively impacted on governance in more ways than one, is an eloquent testimony to this point.
“We urge that voters must accord the same importance to both the presidential/governorship and legislative polls and extend equal amount of participation and vigilance in the ballot towards ensuring that all validly cast votes count.”
Epia said all measures against vote-buying must therefore be extended to the national assembly elections as well as the state legislative polls.
“The eventual choice of 109 senators, 360 members of the house of representatives, and 990 members of state houses of assemblies from the list of candidates cleared for the crucial elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must emanate from the well-considered judgment of electors,” he said.