250 Reps may not return in 2015
Mugabe’s vitriol: FG summons Zimbabwean envoy
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.”