BY AMOS DUNIA, ABUJA – Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, said god-fatherism and the clamour for rotational representation is affecting the quality of legislation at the National Assembly.
Dogara also said the high turnover rate of lawmakers is taking place at the expense of enormous cost and resources invested in training members once they are elected.
According to him; “Obviously, there’s no way one would not be bothered about the rate of turnover of legislators. It is an issue that is being discussed across board, but so many factors are responsible and it is based on the practice of democracy in Nigeria.
“In some cases, some people have acquired some dominance in politics, they can just sit down and decide that they don’t like your face or that you have some kind of competence that is challenging to them, so they want to do away with you completely and eliminate you from politics.
“In some cases, it is based on the local arrangement where a constituency consists of 2 or 3 Local Governments and each Local Government would want its turn to be represented at the National Assembly. So, the pressure is always there to claim turns at representation.”
Dogara observed that as soon as an elected legislator is sent to the National Assembly for four years, there would be agitation from the other Local Government Areas insisting it is theirs the next time.
“So, at the end of the day, you then have this high rate of turnover in the National Assembly and it is not helping the system. Any system that doesn’t have the capacity to retain what is known as institutional memory is doomed, and in that process we have had well-trained and competent lawmakers where Government and National Assembly have expended huge resources in training and developing them,” he said.
Dogara said it doesn’t matter whether someone is the best lawyer or made a First Class in Law; when they get to the parliament, it is a different ball game as some of them, including professors soon discover that they have been lost on the floor as their voices cannot be heard.
He further said; “You don’t even know that they are professors, sometimes you won’t even believe that we have professors. So, whatever it is that is your profession or qualification, when you come to the National Assembly, you must wait first, there are so many things you must learn. If you are a fast learner; maybe within 2 years you may be able to catch up. In some cases however it takes Members more than 4 years to finish learning the ropes.”