The legislature is an assemblage of the representatives of the people elected under a legal framework to make laws for the good health of the society. It is also defined as “the institutional body responsible for making laws for a nation and one through which the collective will of the people or part of it is articulated, expressed and implemented” (Okoosi-Simbine, 2010:1).
This clearly defines the functions and purpose of the senators in the running of a democratic system as it should be.
Before jumping to the answer, let’s quickly do a little analysis “the Senate vs the masses”
According to Shehu Sani; Nigerian senators are entitled to monthly expenses of 13.5m naira (£27,000; $37,500), in addition to their monthly salaries of more than $2,000. Excluding other allowances and entitlements that are … classified of course.
Let’s assume I am an NYSC member and I earn ₦19,800naira ($55) as my salary (₦237600 naira annually) if compared with the annual salary (₦156,009,000 naira) earned by the Nigerian senators, the difference would be;
A Nigerian senator would earn my annual salary within 1hour 7minutes
I earned ₦0.91 in 2 minutes while a senator earns ₦595.12 in the same minutes.
Meanwhile, there are 109 senators in Nigeria and if each of them earns an annual pay of ₦156,009,000, the total salaries of all the senators for a year would be ₦17,004,981,000
Now to the answer:
What would Nigeria be like without senators?
- Since we practice bicameral legislature, the lower chamber (house of representatives) would probably assume the functions of the Senate and our legislative system would be changed to a unicameral one.
- All the legislative power would reside with the house of reps, therefore, the balance in the legislature would not be checked
- The cost of governance would definitely be reduced and transferred to other aspects that need funding
- However, the salaries of the reps would gradually swell
- Passage of bills would be swift and laws would be efficiently made (this may not be completely good for the country)
- If a particular political party is dominant in the house of reps, decisions of the house would be easily influenced
- There would be more uproar in the house
- Impeachment would happen swiftly and interested parties may revolt badly
- There would be authoritarian executives especially if the house is dominated by the party that the executives belong to
- The number of representatives from each state would be equalized so that no state would have more reps than the other.
- In the case whereby the number of representatives is still unequal, then there would be a conflict of interest among each of the 36 States which would eventually lead to the breakdown of the Nigerian legislature
The dearth of senators in a non-homogeneous society like ours will only lead to chaos everywhere with different sects springing up to demand a reformist on in the system on the basis of maladministration and marginalization. It will definitely cause a lot of havoc politically and otherwise because of the type of madness politics we have here. Under-representation would be a normal daily cry from all corners of the country if we had a functional democratic system here.
In conclusion: Nigeria is not democratically or politically ripe to practice a unicameral legislature. Hence, the functions of the Senate cannot be overemphasized or overlooked.