Between a Lawmaker and a Life maker
By Jide Smart
12, Kusa Street, Shomolu, Lagos.
Nigeria in these past few years has witnessed so many law breaking perpetrated by the so-called law makers in the hallowed chambera. However,this has made me to make an enquiry as a concerned citizen into the legislative arm of the Nigerian government.
It will be well noticed that the legislative arm is not only saddled with the responsibility of sitting in the assembly and making bourgeois laws but also imparting the lives of the constituencies they represent in other to create a more meaningful Nigerian state and also foster development via good laws. Recall that good laws berth good institutions, good institutions berth good governance and good governance transcribe into good live for the populace.
Without much ado, after so much inquiries and investigations; I was astonished at a Lagos Senator who has not only been outstanding but his intellectual prowess has made me to conclude that he is standing out among his peers. His name is Senator Gbenga Basheer Ashafa - i will advise that you should not see this article as another charade of sycophancy but a critique of this senator’s stewardship viz a viz his mates in the Senate house in order to juxtapose the former conclusion of being a Lawmaker.
If not for this little research. I would have known that there are few Nigerians who are bent on obeying the rule of law and also agitating for equality of justice. He is working endlessly to fulfil the last line of the first stanza of the National Anthem which says to build a nation where peace and justice reigns.
I will fault the Nigerian media for always dwelling endlessly on infamous bills while allowing the positive ones lay low at the background for the draconian gladiators to trample upon and make vanish with the wind.
One of the bills sponsored by the Senator, Gbenga Ashafa was A BILL FOR AN ACT TO AMEND THE NATIONAL DRUG LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY ACT CAP N 30 LAWS OF THE FEDERATION OF NIGERIA, 2004. This is an extract from the debate
The National Drug Enforcement Agency Act CAP N 30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 provides for stringent penalties for persons involved in the importation and exportation of Hard Drugs such as cocaine or heroin, sell or buy hard drugs or knowingly possess or use hard drugs. These penalties range from life imprisonment to 15 years, which is the minimum penalty.
A gramme of cocaine sells for over #4 million naira in the market. In spite of the fact that the Supreme Court in the case of Odeh V Federal Republic of Nigeria (2008) 3 – 4 Supreme Court at page 147 has held that the minimum penalty for those dealing in such drugs is a term of 15 years.
The Act specifically stipulates the maximum sentence of Life imprisonment and minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment for the above-mentioned offences in the Act. There is nowhere in the provisions of the NDLEA Act that gives to the Judges discretionary power to reduce the minimum sentence stipulated in the Act.
However, rather than a minimum term of imprisonment of 15 years or maximum term of imprisonment for life as stipulated in the Act, for some unknown reasons, some Judges of the Federal High Court have continued to pass varied/discretionary sentences short of the what is prescribed by the NDLEA Act.
He carefully examined the excess of the judiciary arm f the government by elucidating on several cases which the judiciary had given judgments below what us prescribed by the law. Tjiat is a man that does jot just make the laws but follow through till it is obeyed. Yet another feat that has made him outstanding as he has also performed yet another viable function of the legislative which is the "checks and balances". He is indeed using the witty hand of the law in carving the Nigerian dream.
Several Nigerians cannot recall what their local government chairman look like talk less of their legislative representative. Senator Gbenga Ashafa has broken away from the norm and he has made himself very popular among his people via his frequent constituency town hall meetings. He has been doing this regardless of the tedius task earmarked him in the hallowed chambers. He has allowed most of us bills debated locally before presentation at the red cap house and thus is a way of promoting Democracy. If we have more legislators like Senator Gbenga Ashafa, there is no doubt that we would have recorded a soar increase in patriotism amidst the populace and our nation will sky rocket into the 21st century Democracy. He has yet again justified the definition of Democracy by Abraham Lincoln which says Democracy is government by the people, for the people and of the people.
No wonder writing his vision and goal, he said, 'I firmly believe that one of the primary responsibilities of government is to implement economic policies that lift millions of our citizens out of poverty, and to use the resources at its disposal to create safety nets for the poor and vulnerable in our society. There should be a minimum standard, below which no Nigerian should live'.
What more can I write again to juxtapose him as a lifemaker and not just a Lawmaker. My humble submission is that he continue he good works as any deviation - my pen is always filled to the brim with ink to point them out. I will advise other leaders to stop warming the bench of power, Stand up, speak out and Stand out. It is time to embrace the new Nigeria in this climate of change.