Nigeria’s absentee lawmakers

It was the Speaker of Kogi House of Assembly, Alhaji Umar Imam, who voiced out his frustration when he raised the alarm, recently, on persistent truancy of members of the House, describing the situation as embarrassing.

The Kogi House of Assembly could not sit as only 11, out of the 25-member legislative arm, were in attendance.

The House could not sit because it failed to form a quorum. Imam said the House had often failed to form a quorum to carry out its legislative business, saying it was a big shame.

He expressed surprise at the low turnout especially since members were duly informed of the urgent need for them to attend the day’s plenary.

The Kogi Speaker must have voiced out the pains in the heart of many of his colleagues nationwide whose members shun the important businesses of their various Houses of Assembly, House of Representatives as well as the Senate without permission.

These lawmakers avoid their legislative duties at will at the expense of their constituencies and the real mandate holders, that is, the people who trusted them and voted them in to represent them at different legislative houses.

No wonder nothing much is achieved in these chambers! The legislature, be it in local government, state or federal, is the representative of the people.

This is because it is elected by the people from all areas. Their primary function is to make laws. Legislators play a critical role in examining and challenging the work of government and passing laws and legislations.

They play a central role in the policy making process by holding their governments to account and scrutinizing their decisions.

In other words, they act as checks and balances to the executive. A person elected into this position, therefore, must be intelligent, sober and be of impeccable character. Many of the legislators are fond of either going late to plenary or completely staying away from sitting.

Some will attend, but won’t contribute to discussions in plenary. Others, who attend, will either engage in side talks or strolling in and out of the chamber at will, thereby denying their constituency robust representation.

Former Speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji has had to warn the lawmakers that no matter what it may be, no matter how important the issue may be, it must have to wait till after the House sitting.

An “Honourable Member” should be a person worthy of honour, somebody of high moral standards, and a leader who should lead by example.

It is sad that most people referred to as “Honourable Members” are the ones found absenting themselves from the job they were elected and paid to do. This is not a good conduct. What could be more important than the job which their constituencies entrusted in their hands?

Our lawmakers should know that they were elected over other candidates because their people reposed so must trust in them.

The fault in these lawmakers going to sleep after election lies on the doors of voters who refuse to monitor their elected representatives at the various local governments, Houses of Assembly, House of Representatives and the Senate.

Many of these lawmakers believe they don’t owe anybody any obligation because they have ‘settled’ people who voted them in.

It does not work like that. In countries where people monitor their representatives after election, such legislators are put under pressure to perform. Since these absentee honourables cannot be or are not disciplined by the chambers, voters should take their destinies in their hands by monitoring their elected representatives.

Any of their representatives that does not represent them well, should be recalled. Election time will soon be here again.

This is the time to score our representative whether they have passed or failed in representing us. If they passed, they can be considered for re-election; if not other people should be given a chance. That is the beauty of democracy. Politicians should learn that the electorate have a choice.

Also, we believe the different chambers should enact a law or resurrect existing laws to discipline the truancy in the hallowed chambers. Nigerians see absentee lawmakers as unserious lot who impact negativity on the quality and number of legislations passed.

They are a bunch of disgrace to the chambers they represent and even their constituencies. When legislators cease to be honourables, something urgent must be done.

Our lawmakers must take their jobs seriously. After all, they are full-time lawmakers and not part time.

They should be ready and willing to abide with the oath they took to serve the people of their constituencies, who are the real mandate owners. They should avoid unnecessary absenteeism and face their legislative business for which they are being paid. The alternative for them is to resign or face being recalled.Nigeria’s absentee lawmakers

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