By Aaron Ossai
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has identified high cost of governance and inherent disconnect between political leaders and the populace as the major flaws of the presidential system.
On the contrary, he said the parliamentary system was cheaper to run and promoted popular participation and accountability.
Senator Ekweremadu spoke at the inaugural session of the non-partisan Enugu West Peoples Assembly on Wednesday at Udi, Udi Local Government Area, Enugu State.
The lawmaker, who has been an advocate of a hybrid of the presidential and parliamentary systems of government, said deliberations at the Assembly were consciously tailored along the parliamentary system to enable the people to seek direct answers from their elected representatives on issues relating to their wellbeing and their collective aspirations.
“What we are doing here is a very creative contribution to Political Science. For a long time, some of us opposed the presidential system for the reason of its expensive nature disconnect between the leaders and those they are leading.
“You hardly see your Ministers and Commissioners. Sometimes even when you invite them, they do not come. But what we are doing here is akin to a parliamentary system where the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, and other government officials regularly field questions from the parliamentarians.
“If there is a problem with roads, the Minister of Works takes questions and offers answers. If the issues relates to transportation, the Transport Minister is taken to task and so on. That is exactly what we have been doing today.
“What we want to do is to show Nigerians that at our own level; at the local level, the parliamentary system can work and I am happy that it is working here and we are sitting here and thinking about the welfare of our people,” he said.
The Deputy President of the Senate also harped on the need to focus on the youth and women in the political recruitment process with a view to producing future leaderships that are vast in experience at all levels of government.
“We are going to promote political empowerment of the youth, especially at the lowest level to nurture them for higher political leadership. That is why the average age of our Councilors in Enugu West Senatorial District is about 25 years. In the next few years, they would have risen to the peak with sufficient experience instead of retiring midway as those that start much later in life”, he said.
Fielding questions on the high unemployment rate, Ekweremadu said the solution rested on vocational training and skill acquisition as government could not provide employment for all.
“That was why I facilitated the setting up of the European Vocational Training School in Enugu to offer over 20 vocational training in the areas of technique, food services and hospitality, information and communication technologies, agriculture and energy, beauty and fashion, among others, to create a pool of self-employed people who will employ others” he added.
He further explained that the Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was working on the establishment of two industrial parks at 9th Mile and Emene, Enugu, which would be boosted with a Free Trade Zone on completion to create job opportunities for the teeming masses of the state and beyond.
Meanwhile, the inaugural session of the Enugu West Peoples Assembly was graced by the elected political leadership in Enugu West, including the two Members of the House of Representatives from the zone, Hon. Toby Okechukwu and Hon. Dennis Amadi as well as the five Council Chairmen, Councilors, traditional rulers, president-generals of town unions, and representatives of youth, women and market associations.
By Aaron Ossai