THE LEGISLATURE AND NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
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The legislature which is a very important institution and arm of government in any civilized democracy is indeed, where the real representation of the people is most manifest, in the sense that it is the arm of government where the majority of the elected representatives of the people are concentrated. It is important also because it serves the critical function of check and balance in a democracy. It is unique in the sense that it is saddled with the main responsibility of law making. The importance of the legislature in a democracy like ours (Nigeria) is underscored by being provided for in the constitution of this country. All aspects of the legislature, ranging from its composition, structure, administration, process and procedures of its operations, to its powers, duties and responsibilities have been spelt out in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended.
The existence of a functioning legislature gives or contributes enormously to the democratic development of a nation and even in the areas of economic and human development. The legislature therefore remains an important organ of the state that should be protected.
There is no doubt that members of the legislative chambers nationwide have not helped themselves and the hallowed institution that they represent by their acts which are less than honourable. Notwithstanding the above, the legislature is a strong catalyst to national development. This is true if we consider the pride of place which the legislature enjoys among the organs of government, especially in democratic countries. It is the central organ as it makes laws which are interpreted and executed by other organs of government. This law making function constitutes the expression of the sovereignty of the state.
1.1 The Meaning of the Legislature
The legislature may simply be defined as a body of persons or institution of the state vested with the law making powers/functions of the state. According to Arvind Kumar, “the legislature has been described as the nations committee of grievances, and its congress of opinions.” The learned writer also quoted Leacock definition which stated that:
By legislature, we mean a body of elected representatives of the people, whose main function is to deliberate, discuss and make laws.
The legislature has also been defined as “an assemblage of the representatives of the people elected under a legal framework to make laws for the good health of the society.” Okosi Simbline defined it in the following word:
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.
Harnessing from our knowledge of the foregoing, it would be safe to conclude reasonably that the legislature occupies a vital position in the life and success of any government particularly a democratic one.