Senate President Godswill Akpabio says Nigeria lawmakers are the most ridiculed and subject of attacks among the three arms of government in the country. He claims the reason for the barrage of ridicule and attacks on the National Assembly members is because of lack of understanding of the workings of the parliament.
One must sympathise with Senate President Akpabio and indeed the lawmakers.
They deserve sympathy. In a way, the method of assessing the performance of the lawmakers has drastically changed. This in itself is symptomatic of the debauchery of the system, indeed of the society.
The society now sees those in both the Executive and Legislative arms of government as harbingers of the dividend of democracy in concreate terms. The people now see lawmakers, like the Executive, as deliverers of projects, not minding the fact that the business of the lawmakers is that of law making, appropriation and oversight.
The lawmakers themselves have taken this business up with the way and manner they scramble for constituency projects.
Akpabio captured the lawmakers’ predicament while speaking at the 100th birthday colloquium in honour of Second Republic Senator Kunle Oyero held in Abeokuta, Ogun State, at the weekend.
He was represented by Senator Shuaib Afolabi Salis from Ogun Central at the event organised by the Abeokuta Grammar School Old Boys’ Association (AGSOBA).
He said: “In the chamber, the roles of the Legislature are three – making laws, oversight functions and appropriation. Most of those Senators were doing those things but guess what? None of them returned. This is because the metric of measuring the performance (of Senators) by the people who vote is different from what the syllabus dictates.
“The syllabus will say as a legislator your role is to make law, perform oversight and make appropriations. Those are the three things a legislator is expected to do. But any Senator, any member of the National Assembly that confines himself to that will not get a return ticket even in his party.
“Because the metric of measuring the performance of legislators is the number of transformers…
“Distinguished Senators my wife has put to bed. Distinguished Senator, my mother-in-law is dead. Distinguished Senator, I want to do freedom ceremony from my apprenticeship,’ among other requests are those things that people who truly vote, measure your performance with.”
Akpabio is right in a way. Indeed, the frustration of the lawmakers should be understandable. The societal expectation from the lawmakers seems condemnable. It is a sign of the times.
But who is blaming who? The lawmakers should also blame themselves. For the life of me, the lawmakers should look inward as to why the attack and ridicule on them. Have they operated in the interest of the people and in line with the present difficult time? Have they carried on in a way that will confer respect and integrity on them? Big questions!
The other day, the lawmakers unashamedly allocated around N75 billion (N160 million each) for the purchase of SUV vehicles for themselves, saying they needed the vehicles because the roads were bad. Who are to ensure the roads are in good condition, you may ask?
Is Akpabio himself not culpable and partly responsible for the attack? For instance, when the Senators were going on recess after the election of their principal officers, Distinguished Senate President Akpabio informed them openly that they would find something in their accounts for the weekend.
How would all of that and many more not elicit ridicule and attack?