250 Reps may not re­turn in 2015

Mu­gabe’s vit­riol: FG sum­mons Zim­bab­wean en­voy

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - By Musa Ab­dul­lahi Kr­ishi

About 250 out of the 360 mem­bers of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives may not re­turn to the Green Cham­ber af­ter the 2015 elec­tions, ac­cord­ing to a Daily Trust anal­y­sis.

Only about 110, rep­re­sent­ing less than one third of the law­mak­ers, have the chances of re­turn­ing to the lower cham­ber come 2015, based on anal­y­sis of trend from 2003, 2007 and 2011 elec­tions.

In 2003, only 104 mem­bers, rep­re­sent­ing 29 per­cent of law­mak­ers elected 1999, re­tained their seats, while 253 mem­bers (or 70 per­cent) failed to re­turn.

Documents ob­tained by Daily Trust left out one law­maker each from Bauchi, Benue and Ondo, giv­ing the to­tal of 357 mem­bers.

In 2007, the num­ber nose­dived when 254 mem­bers failed to re­turn to the House af­ter elec­tions in which an­other 104 set of law­mak­ers (same as in 2003) re­tained their seats.

The at­tri­tion rate grew in 2011 where only 100 law­mak­ers re­tained their seats while 260 failed to re­turn to the lower cham­ber.

An in­for­ma­tion on the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives’

web­site states that “The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the 7th Na­tional As­sem­bly was in­au­gu­rated on the 6th June 2011. Out of the 360 mem­bers of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, 100 were re-elected while 260 were elected for the first time.”

Al­ready, more than 30 mem­bers of the House are said to be in­ter­ested in be­com­ing gov­er­nors in their re­spec­tive states. They in­clude Speaker Aminu Waziri Tam­buwal (Sokoto), his deputy Emeka Ihe­dioha (Imo), chief whip Isi­aka Bawa (Taraba) and deputy mi­nor­ity leader Ab­dul­rah­man Kawu Su­maila (Kano).

Oth­ers are Em­manuel Jime (Benue), Bethel Amadi (Imo), Dakuku Peter­side Rivers), Opeyemi Bamidele (who is al­ready in the race in Ek­iti), Ibrahim Shehu Gusau (Zam­fara), and God­win Elumelu (Delta). Oth­ers are said to be keep­ing their am­bi­tions to their chests for now.

Mem­bers of the House who had left in the past to be­come gov­er­nors of their re­spec­tive states are Gabriel Suswan of Benue, who was in the House be­tween 1999 and 2007; Ab­dulaziz Yari of Zam­fara, a two term mem­ber, and Se­ri­ake Dick­son of Bayelsa.

There are other mem­bers who are said to be eye­ing the Se­nate seats in their states but are also keep­ing it as ‘top se­cret.”

Of the 360 mem­bers of the House, it was gath­ered, only four have been in the lower cham­ber from 1999 to date. They are Reps Farouq Lawan (PDP, Kano), Bashir Adamu (PDP, Ji­gawa), Ni­co­las Mutu (PDP, Delta) and Mon­suro Aloa Owolabi (APC, La­gos). This is just one per­cent of the 360.

How­ever, there are a num­ber of law­mak­ers who have been in the House since 2003. They in­clude Speaker Aminu Tam­buwal, his deputy Emeka Ihe­dioha, deputy leader, Leo Ogor (PDP, Delta), mi­nor­ity leader Femi Gba­jabi­amila (APC, La­gos) and Ab­dul­rah­man Kawu Su­maila re­spec­tively.

Oth­ers are Gideon Gwani (PDP, Kaduna), Andrew Unchendu (APC, Rivers), Us­man Mo­hammed (APC, Kano), Ibrahim Bawa Kamba (PDP, Kebbi), Abike Dabiri-Erewa (APC, La­gos), Ola­jumoke Okoya-Thomas (APC, La­gos among oth­ers.

There were also mem­bers of the House who had moved to the Se­nate from 1999 to date. They in­clude late Se­na­tor Sule Yari Gandi (Sokoto), Ge­orge Sek­ibo (Rivers), Umar Idris (Gombe, now Trans­port min­is­ter), Vic­tor Lar (Plateau), Em­manuel Bwacha (Taraba), Philip Aduda FCT), Nkechi Nwogwu (Abia), Ahmed Lawan (Yobe), Ab­dul Ningi (Bauchi), Osita Izu­naso (Imo), Ita Enang (Akwa Ibom), Naz­ifi Ga­mawa (Bauchi), Hadi Sirika (Katsina), Yakubu Lado (Katsina), Ganiyu Solomon (La­gos), Pa­tri­cia Ak­washiki (Nasarawa) and a host of oth­ers.

The high level of at­tri­tion, an­a­lysts say, is usu­ally a ma­jor set­back in the life and ac­tiv­i­ties of any par­lia­ment, as huge sums are ex­pended to train new law­mak­ers.

Speak­ing on the mat­ter re­cently, Deputy Se­nate Pres­i­dent, Ike Ek­w­ere­madu, said “The im­pli­ca­tions of high at­tri­tion rate among leg­is­la­tors in­clude draw­back aris­ing from loss of in­sti­tu­tional mem­ory and loss of ca­pac­ity as 70 per­cent of in­com­ing leg­is­la­tors are new and will re­quire train­ing from the ba­sics. The con­se­quence is loss of con­fi­dence in deal­ing with other arms of govern­ment which will have to be built afresh over a few years again.

“In ad­di­tion, there is the ini­tial low pro­duc­tiv­ity aris­ing from the new­ness of mem­bers, thus the need for in­ten­sive ini­tial train­ing. It should be noted that some parliamentarians en­gage in in­ter­na­tional, con­ti­nen­tal and re­gional par­lia­ments and par­lia­men­tary or­ga­ni­za­tions, thus ac­quir­ing tech­ni­cal ex­pe­ri­ence or ex­per­tise in spe­cific ar­eas and net­works. All these are lost when they lose their seats at home,” he said.

An­other ma­jor rea­son be­hind the at­tri­tion rate, it was learnt, was the at­ti­tude of some law­mak­ers who im­me­di­ately af­ter win­ning elec­tions aban­don their con­stituents and be­come ‘Abuja politi­cians,’ with some go­ing home only when elec­tions pe­riod ap­proaches.

But chair­man of the House com­mit­tee on jus­tice, Rep Ali Ahmed (APC, Kwara) said the ma­jor fac­tor was the high ex­pec­ta­tion con­stituents have on their rep­re­sen­ta­tives, and when such are not met, the law­mak­ers stand the chance of los­ing dur­ing next elec­tions.

“Yes, we’ve ob­served that high at­tri­tion rate and even dis­cussed it re­cently at a con­fer­ence. To me, it all boils down to the con­stituents who have high ex­pec­ta­tions of their rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Re­mem­ber, your ma­jor func­tion is law­mak­ing, but you see that what the people are ask­ing for is mostly what you don’t even have.”

While ap­peal­ing to the elec­torates to al­ways show un­der­stand­ing to rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Ahmed called on po­lit­i­cal par­ties to en­sure that they en­cour­age per­form­ing law­mak­ers to get re-elected.

On his part, Rep Ali Sani Madaki (APC, Kano) said the ma­jor fac­tor is envy among many of the elec­torate, es­pe­cially the elite.

“To me, envy is the ma­jor fac­tor among the people. When you come here, they be­lieve you make money. The sec­ond fac­tor has to do with the law­mak­ers them­selves who aban­don their con­stituents once they’re elected. There is also the is­sue of the elec­torate bring­ing their per­sonal prob­lems to law­mak­ers, and if you can’t solve it, you’re on your own,” he said.

Speak­ing to Daily Trust on his sur­vival in the House since 2003, Gba­jabi­amila said “It has to do with how you re­late with your con­stituents back home. For me, I have been go­ing back to them on reg­u­lar ba­sis to in­ter­act with them and know what their prob­lems are.

It also has to do with the way you rep­re­sent them here at the Na­tional As­sem­bly. I rep­re­sent their in­ter­ests very well, and that has been the se­cret.

“Some people in my con­stituency felt bad with my own ap­proach to pol­i­tics. They con­sider them­selves as pow­er­ful elite and feel that you must go to them to get their sup­port be­fore you get back. But I re­fused to do that. It has not been easy, but I have sur­vived it by the grace of God and the ap­proach I have to thee people and rep­re­sen­ta­tion,” he said.

A law­maker who spoke with our re­porter in con­fi­dence at­trib­uted this to ig­no­rance among the law­mak­ers “most of whom do not un­der­stand leg­isla­tive lan­guage in the par­lia­ment.

“You see, let’s be frank to our­selves. Most of my col­leagues are ig­no­rant and don’t even un­der­stand English. You’ve been cov­er­ing this House, and you can see it yourself. When mo­tions come up, they don’t un­der­stand what it is. They can’t even spon­sor a mo­tion let alone a bill. Some of them are just af­ter money in this House; that’s just their busi­ness. So, how do you ex­pect such people to come back?”

An­other law­maker told our re­porter that the at­tri­tion rate this time around may not be as high as the last three as­sem­blies largely be­cause “the par­ties now have ar­ranged to push the law­mak­ers. Even the PDP lead­er­ship that is say­ing no, it’s just be­cause they don’t want to make it pub­lic.”

Speaker Aminu Tam­buwal

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