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Date Published: 12/13/09

Horrible or Honourable Members? By Imohimi Uduigwome Airenevboise


We now have a situation where our federal legislature have nothing better to do than to request local government chairmen to fund a bogus award for the best performing local government chairman in Nigeria. While I do not know the criteria for selection but it must obviously be subjective. Can we say that because chairmen A used a million naira to drill five boreholes and chairman B used the same amount to drill just two boreholes that chairman A has performed better? Did we take into factor that because of the terrain and water level, chairman A could drill five boreholes while chairman B operates in a rocky terrain with low water table. How many of the legislators will get a pass mark on the way they utilised the money provided them to establish a project in their constituency? Providing motor cycles to inhabitants who have no roads, note books to children who sit on floors to receive lessons smacks nothing short of an insult! When are we going to have an award for the best performing minister or board chairman? Or are these sectors not part of their over sight function? (read income function)Now after all the noise (and exchange of money?) the honourable members behind the bogus awards are smiling like cats that just devoured stolen fish! 

Now we hear that some honourables (?) were caught stuffing ballot boxes in Ondo state while trying to help one of their party member to reenact the scenario that ushered them into the hallowed chambers. In a sane nation these men would have apologised and honourably resigned immediately but as this is Nigeria I can bet my last kobo that the matter will be swept under the carpet by the ethics committee saddled to investigate the veracity of the incident. The scenario reminds me of the thief who was caught stealing and was told he will be judged by a jury of his peers and when he inquired what that meant his lawyer told him that he will be judged by ordinary citizens like him. Upon hearing this, the thief exclaimed “Whoa, you mean I would be judged by thieves like me?” To put it succinctly, no honourable member has ever been indicted or penalized by the ethics committee which acts as the Voltron of the honourable members; defender of the honourables.What happened to the “gentleman” who slapped the security official who had the effrontery to request that the lawmaker present his ID card? What happened to the hair dresser (or is it hair stylist) that wanted to use tax payers fund to change her career to house designer? What about the vocal members who gave the false impression that they were out to fish out the rogues in the energy sector while all they wanted was a share of the looted fund? What of the purchase of cars saga? The list is endless. When the public is enraged about the action or inaction of any horrible (sorry honourable) the case is sent to the ethics committee to “investigate” on how best to absolve the member and present the picture of a saint to the public. The committee should also be known as the damaged control and public relations committee. 

I am not going to assault our sensibilities with the statement credited (Though I didn’t read of any rebuttal) to the speaker that he spent billions of naira traveling around the world to get us billions of goodwill (I wonder what is the conversion rate of goodwill to naira).If Governors can travel around the world in search of the elusive foreign investor and people did not make noise why should Nigerians raise an eyebrow that our speaker traveled round the world and brought goodwill. At least unlike the Governors he brought something!


Constituency projects are now a sham and simply a means to line their pockets. Most honourables just print note books (with their well fed face on the cover) for distribution to school students who sit on rickety benches to receive lessons in dilapidated classroom. Others purchase cassava grinding machine that are powered by fuel or electricity. The irony is that both the electricity and fuel to power the grinding machine are not available. The amount spent on the publicity and entertainment of guest at the presentation of these items is so outrageous that one often wonders which is of more importance; the items being donated to the people or the publicity involved. How many of our lawmakers can walk the streets in their constituency? Half will definitely not be recognized because nobody knows them and the other half will be mobbed. Their allegiance is to their godfather and not to members of their constituency. They are ever so vociferous when they perceive that someone has made a statement that cast aspersion on their honourable nature. These remarks are usually brought to the attention of other members by a member under “issue of urgent national importance’. (However the fact that poverty and insecurity pervades is definitely not an issue of urgent and national importance!) At this point even members who normally use the opportunity of the house in session to take a quick nap after a night filled with activity (please don’t ask me why they are always so busy at night) join in the debate to call for the head of the person. Our politician resent criticism even from within their kind. When we are been led by people who abhor criticism, even if it’s constructive, how can our Nation grow? 

Now in the midst of the poverty in the nation and lack of basic infrastructures someone has come up with the “brilliant” idea that the senate president and the speaker of House of Representatives deserve new mansions in Abuja. In a sane society where lawmakers are truly representatives of the people, the house will definitely summon the insensitive person who came up with the idea to build mansions in Abuja for the Head of the two houses. Billions of naira are set aside for roads, electricity, education, health and yet people do not feel the impact so what is all the noise about over sight functions and committees in the House? While we are all aware of the hatred for the poor antecedent of the Senate President (the man who with disdain said on two different occasions that phones and air travel are not meant for the poor) a number of Nigerians thought the Speaker of the House of Representative would be a refreshing change from the old order but as events unfold we are now discovering that “the orange does not fall far from the tree” 

The press calls itself the fourth estate of the realm but as far as am concerned they are not doing their job, they only lampoon the executive while they pussy-foot with the legislature. Someone remarked the other day that the once vibrant press in Nigeria has disappeared and I can’t but agree. I don’t see why the various correspondents covering the Senate and House of Representatives can’t take on our law makers and ask them what they have done to justify the huge tax payer’s money expended on them and what happened to their constituency projects. As far as some lawmakers are concerned they are in Abuja to enjoy the national cake and not to work! Until there is a change, I guess more and more myopic people will keep on jostling to become lawmakers as it is all fun and no work, to the detriment of the progress of the good people of this nation. 

Imohimi Uduigwome Airenevboise

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