Executive Director of CISLAC, Mallam Auwal Ibrahim Musa
By Raphael Ekpang
Th extended annual reccess of National Assembly members, has been condemned as unpatriotic behavior by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC), Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) and Citizens Advocacy for Social Economic Rights (CASER).
The Executive Directors of CISLAC, Mallam Auwal Ibrahim Musa; CACOL, Debo Adeniran and CASER, Barrister Frank Tietie have in separate interviews with Corereporters express surprise over the continuous absent of the federal lawmakers at both chambers, stressing that despite that, they don’t miss their daily, monthly, quarterly etc allowances because it goes directly to their individual pockets.
It will be recalled that the federal lawmakers had embarked on a break due to COVID-19 pandemic between the month of March and sometimes in May this year. After that, they were engaged in a partial resumption where they appeared at the chambers only on Wednesdays until July where they proceeded to their two months annual recess. The lawmakers were supposed to resume on September 15, 2020 but extended their holidays for extra three weeks leaving the civil society’s organizations with no option but to question their level of patriotism to the nation.
The Executive Directors of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa who is also the Head of Transparency International, Nigeria said that they have discovered that instead of meeting the 181 sittings annually as provided for in the constitution, they have always fall short of that. He added that with the current elongation of their recess coupled with the COVID-19 break he is sure they are going to meet less than half of the required number of their sittings.
He noted that these boil down to the fact that most of them are not complying with the code and conduct guiding them, saying that how would they expect the government and its agencies to comply with them when they are not showing good examples.
Musa said, “It is important that the National Assembly members provide quality legislative intervention in terms of law making, in terms of oversight, in terms of constituency accountability and in terms of quality representation. These are the key important work they are elected to do, so we are calling on to ensure that they are not abandoning their key legislative responsibilities which is to make law, and not just to make law but to make quality laws that can help bring development to their constituencies.”
On his part, the Executive Director of Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) Debo Adeniran attributed the continuous holidaying by the federal lawmakers to idleness, stressing that because they don’t have enough work to do that is why they chose giving themselves as many holidays as possible.
Adeniran stated that many of the federal lawmakers do not have the nation at heart; they are there to make names and money to enjoy themselves on behalf of their constituents. Basically, it is insolent to the masses for them to adjourned sitting indefinitely and after such unnecessary adjournment they still give themselves several holidays which is not how to be nationalistic.
“They should be more patriotic, they should be more hardworking, they should give themselves less holidays, they should complete any legislative business at hand before adjournment and even if there should be a national holiday they should work from home because to justify the trust that their constituents repose in them to represent them adequately and responsively. A situation whereby they remain in the NASS as if they are there just for recreation is uncalled for, is reprehensible,” he said.
In the same vein, the Executive Director of Citizens Advocacy for Social Economic Rights (CASER) Fank Tietie, on his part said that the process of legislation in Nigeria is currently severely suffering because the federal legislators are not being patriotic, adding that this unwarranted and unfairly long recess that they are in at a critical time that Nigerians are faced with a lot of problems such as the hike in petroleum pump price, the hike in electricity tariff should have attracted them to resume and tackle them and not to extend their holidays if they actually have the people they are representing at heart.
He said, “According to section 88 and 89 of the constitution, they must exercise their oversight function on what the executive does or any issue for which it appropriate money, so why would they be institutions like the National Electricity Regulatory Commission and Nigeria Prices Regulatory Agency and where there is increase in Electricity tariff and petroleum product respectively without the National Assembly raising any issue, it is irresponsible.”
Mr.Tietie insisted that since we practice indirect representative democracy, the voices, the yearning of the people are directly represented by the members of the NASS, therefore, they must not stand aloof and appear disconnected from the willing, yearning, the aspiration and the suffering and pains of the people. “Federal legislative members must appear to be connected to their representatives and the only way to show that is by standing for their constituents when unfriendly policies are introduced by the FG,” he stated.
It was gathered that the federal lawmakers extended their annual recess of two months by three weeks in order to allow the purported installation of gadgets at the chambers to complete and also for the recent Edo gubernatorial elections. Though all their allowances have been paid as at when due.