Since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, political analysts have questioned the quality and capacity of the legislature at the state levels to add value and strengthen the nation’s democracy, enhance good governance and hold the executive accountable to the masses. To conclude that the various state Houses of Assembly have fell short of the minimum requirement and performance in properly discharging their constitutional duties is to simply admit the obvious.
The ways and manner, with which many state governors’ rule their states as if it is their personal properties, mismanage state funds and freely abuse their oaths of office without being challenged or called to order by the state legislature calls for concern. One of the major functions of the legislature in a constitutional democracy is to make laws that would enhance good governance, and serve as a check to the executive by over sighting through the various House committees in making sure that the masses get the full benefits and dividends of democracy.
Many have asserted that one of the reasons responsible for the low performance of the legislature at the level of state Houses of Assembly is largely due to the influence of godfathers. In most cases the same money-bags who sponsored and installed the state Governor are usually also responsible for the imposition and electoral victories of majority of the House of Assembly members who they pick not on the basis of qualification and competence but solely for loyalty. Happenings in the Nigerian political arena, where former state governors have been accused and are being prosecuted for stealing billions of naira of public funds, awarding of contracts for “ghost” projects which runs into several millions and billions and obvious abuse of power and administrative recklessness has exposed the ineptitude and incompetence of the state legislatures to carry out their constitutional duties, which would have prevented all these maladministration, executive corruption and abuse of power.
In kogi state, the only time the state House of Assembly gets to make news headlines is when there is crisis which calls for a change in leadership of the House. Kogi State House of Assembly which is notorious for crisis has not lived up to the expectations of the masses that elected them into office.
The legislature was thrown into another round of crisis in the first quarter of 2016 as a result of an attempt by the Governor to change its leadership and impose his stooge, Umar Ahmed Imam as speaker. The controversial removal and subsequent replacement of Momohjimoh Lawal, in defiant to the ruling of an Abuja high court by the executive signaled the final interment of the legislative arm of government in kogi state, as the hallowed chamber was later demolished by miscreants sent by the executive on the guise of renovation, clearly without the consent of the lawmakers.
Members of kogi state House of Assembly who have since abandoned their constitutional duties and have now become bootlickers and errand boys to the executive who settles them with “peanuts”. These days, the only times kogites gets to know that the legislature still exists is whenever the members are invited by the executive for a novelty match to mark a celebration. Recent events in the state have shown that the kogi state House of Assembly members have forsaken the masses that elected them for the “pots of soup” from the executive. No wonder, many appointees of the executive whom have been summoned by the legislature did not only refused to honor such invitations but have told them that they lacked the powers and audacity to invite them, what a shame.
The past year has witnessed clear cases of gross abuse of power, executive recklessness, high handedness, human rights abuses and wide spread corruption by the executive in kogi state. From the hunger, humiliation, harassment, intimidation and arrest of the state civil servants and pensioners under the guise of screening, to the recklessness, constitutional breaches, illegal and undue interference of the governor’s Chief of Staff, Edward Onoja in governance at al levels of the state, the members of the state House of Assembly have chosen to be mute and turned deaf ears to the pain and anguish of the masses, and the abuse of office currently going on in the state. They have proved that their loyalty lies with the executive rather than to the electorates in kogi state. Constitutional democracy is dying in the state and the sooner the kogi state House of Assembly rises up to do the needful in saving the state from collapsing, the better for all of us.
Hussain Obaro…firstname.lastname@example.org…Lokoja, kogi state