Setting agenda for Gbajabiamila, Wase
I deliberately chose to address this memo to the incoming leadership of the 9th House of Reps because, like many Nigerians, I have little hope in the Senate, which has now been turned to a mere retirement home for former governors. More so, from our experience as a nation, the lower chamber has been much more vibrant in terms legislative activism.
Today, our nation is facing its worst existential threats due to challenges confronting it from numerous fronts, such as the weakening of our national economy which heightened fears of the country getting back into recession, less than six months after it is said to have exited.
This, coupled with the most vicious spate of violence that has not been seen since after the civil war, and the rising spate of unemployment among youths, which worsens the level of poverty among citizens, exacerbates our national spiral towards the precipice.
This informed this public memo to Gbaja, as he is fondly called, and his running mate, Wase, who barring any unforeseen circumstances, would lead the 9th House of Reps. This is further strengthened by my conviction that Nigeria is at crossroads where we need decisive actions from our parliamentarians, for us to overcome our enormous challenges.
From what I’ve seen, these are not challenges which Gbaja and Wase alone, tagging along with their colleagues can address. No. Our problems require strategic collaboration by all our arms of government, most especially between the executive and legislative branches. And since we place greater trust and confidence in members of our lower chamber of the National Assembly, we need to begin to bring these issues closer to their hearts.
It is pertinent to point out here that notwithstanding the public confidence expressed in Gbaja and Wase by various national stakeholders, especially their colleagues in the green chamber; we cannot just adopt a sitdon look approach to our national issues and assume that since these are patriotic gentlemen, they will accelerate the current legislative action towards our emancipation.
Rather, we’ll achieve better results if we support them, and also keep them on their toes by highlighting the most critical areas of need, in addition to determining how they think and act in relation to their oversight functions on the executive arm of government.
Like I’ve said before at several fora, most of our current challenges wouldn’t have been with us if our legislators-past and present-had performed their duties diligently and with high sense of patriotism rather than being self-centred or engage in an unnecessary battle of supremacy with other rams of government particularly the executive, and the avoidable internal squabbles that remained an albatross to the efficiency of our legislature especially as witnessed in the recent past.
However, there is cheering news about current moves by these two aspirants-Gbaja and Wase- to proactively develop a distinctive Legislative Agenda that will address these contemporary problems afflicting our country.
Specifically, the proposed Agenda outlines the step-by-step efforts to be made by the relevant standing committees of the House to, for instance, oversight the Defence Establishment to ensure that money appropriated for addressing security matters are duly disbursed to the agencies concerned, and also properly utilised for the purposes meant.
Equally, it highlights in detail, what the standing committee overseeing the ports will do to tackle port congestion, which is a prerequisite for opening up the Nigerian economy for greater inflow of foreign direct investments, thereby creating millions of jobs to curb the rising unemployment.
Similarly, worried by the fiddling with local government funds by state governors, thereby incapacitating the third tier of government, which is the first point of contact with majority of citizens of this country, the Agenda outlines urgent steps to kick-start a fresh constitutional amendment that will free the LGs from the shackles of some dictatorial governors.
This move by the duo of Gbaja and Wase is laudable and needs support of their colleagues and other citizens.
This is necessary in view of the patriotic and passionate resolve of Gbaja and Wase to make it up for Nigerians who voted for change since 2015, but ended up with a leadership that was engaged in cold war with the executive arm of the government. Undoubtedly, Nigerians deserve a better deal.
Notwithstanding the commitment and resolve of the duo to improve the lots of Nigerians, however, we must keep the incoming leadership of the House under Gbaja and Wase on their toes by holding them accountable to their solemn resolve for an efficient legislature, whose interest and focus is Nigeria first.
It is only by so doing that we would change the narrative of non-performing, self centered leaderships that we have had in the past. It is trite that past leaders have espoused fantastic agendas only for them to derail few meters after the takeoff of their legislative ‘trains.’ Therefore, a constant check and reminder to them on our part is necessary to sustain good legislative work for enthronement of good governance.
• Mu’azu, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja.
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