Friday, January 20, 2006

Where Are the Nigerian Legislators?

What roles are the Legislators- the people’s elected representatives- playing in protecting the interest of their constituencies in Nigeria?

Are the Legislators leveraging their influence enough, and in the right direction, for the betterment of their people?

What roles are Senators, federal Representatives, and state Legislators playing in resolving the sensitive issues in their regions, for example, in the Niger-Delta, and in this instance below?

I asked these questions after reading this Nigeria ThisDay report on Tinapa Tourist Resort:
“The much cherished N29 billion [about $ 200 million] Tinapa Business and Tourist Resort of the Cross River State Government has suffered a serious set back, as the project site has been temporarily shut down, due to uprising by youths of the village housing the project…The youths said indigenes of the area employed by the construction giants were not paid, and instead other workers were employed from outside...”
The first impression I got from this article is that Nigeria is just a lawless country; regrettably that’s just stating the obvious. Any responsible government would provide channels aggrieved groups can use to address their cause, right?

How else can these youths/Nigerians address their issues without resorting to violence?

Well, there are such channels in Nigeria: some obscure government parastatals, and the court of law which many use as the last resort. Unfortunately, the former have proven to be highly inefficient, and the latter will take forever to get a response.

The Legislators, I think, should be able to deal on behalf of the people. They can serve as peace and deal makers in times like this.

Nigeria is a democracy and that means every region should be represented in the scheme of governance- at local, state and federal levels. The primary duty of these representatives is to protect the interest of their constituency

These questions would have been appropriate under one condition: If Nigeria was a typical democratic nation!

Nigeria is an atypical nation I forgot, so let re-wind please…. The appropriate questions one should ask are:

Are elected representatives accessible to their people that voted them in?

Do representatives hold regular consultation with their constituents?

Do representatives have any local visibility- local offices and staff- beyond what they claim on paper to justify the office/staff allowance they receive?

Do Nigerians know what to expect from their representatives…?