Anger over lawmakers’ failure to set up constituency offices
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) yesterday faulted some legislators in Imo State for not setting up functional constituency offices to enable their constituents interface with them on issues of mutual interest.
The NGOs, which, after intensive survey, met at the Links Hotels, Owerri to deliberate on the matter, were the Centre for Constitutional Governance (CGC), the Citizens’ Centre for Integrated Developmental and Social Rights (CCIDESOR), the Imo State Public Interest Coalition (PIC), and some community associations in local councils advocating course of democracy
Addressing stakeholders, the Programmes Officer of CGC, Mrs. Juliana Iregbu-Ihejirika; Senior Lecturer in the Department of Political Science of the Imo State University, Owerri, Dr. Sam Ezeanyika and Director at CCIDESOR, Emeka Ononamadu, berated the affected lawmakers for not offering their constituents the opportunity of ventilating their views in their various domains, asking that they should do the needful by carrying out the constitutional demands to set up functional constituency offices.
Ezeanyika regretted that, in his 23 years as university teacher, he has had the opportunity of enlightening stakeholders on how to deepen Nigeria’s democracy “by allowing the governed follow accurately and enjoy the dividends.”
The don appealed to lawmakers to build confidence in the electorate by providing platform to reach them and express their minds and needs.
Iregbu-Ihejirika said: “Only a small percentage of Imo citizens visit or know where the constituency offices of their representatives in the state House of Assembly are. In our work with community structures, many people have indicated that they do not see their elected representatives, and that when they do, it is invariably just prior to elections.”
Continuing, she lamented: “Of the 26 constituencies that had representatives, only 24 of them provided their constituency office addresses at the beginning of the survey, while two legislators declined.
“Of the 24 addresses that were obtained, 20 of them, representing 83 per cent, had offices available at the addresses provided, while the remaining four addresses, representing 17 per cent, had no offices located there. Two legislators did not provide their office addresses and the enumerators did not identify any related office, while Oguta Constituency did not have a representative at the House of Assembly during the survey.
“Among the 20 constituency office addresses identified, visited and assessed, only 12, representing 60 per cent were functional constituency offices. The remaining eight offices, representing another 40 per cent were just offices under lock and key. The report is that they only open during election campaigns or to hold political party meetings.”