By EMMANUEL AZIKEN
It would have been tempting for some Nigerians who tuned in to the live telecast of last Thursday’s session of the House of Representatives to be enraged by the poor attendance that day.
At the commencement of the session just a paltry 60 members out of the 360 members were present. As the proceedings progressed, some sauntered in and out and at the end of the day, just about 115 members passed through. Many of those who came just came to sign the attendance.
For taxpayers the downside is that the national treasury would still be depleted towards satisfying the comfort of our lawmakers whether such members are present in the session or away on frivolities.
Irrespective of their devotions to duty, the legislators would still get a full chunk of their estimated N25 million quarterly allocations and princely monthly salaries. House members and senators had in the past been known not to miss the Thursday and Wednesday sessions when activities in the House and the senate are transmitted live by the national broadcaster, NTA.
Normally truant legislators have been known to surface momentarily in the chamber on the days of live coverage for the purpose of being seen on television. Legislators have also been known to keep their motions and bills for debate till the day of live coverage for the purpose of getting long PR mileage.
It was as such a shock for viewers last Thursday as the TV cameras could barely conceal the reality of an almost empty chamber.
What was seen on television last Thursday was rather depressing and reflective of the decreasing enthusiasm by not just the House members, but by an increasing proportion of Nigerians for the democratic enterprise.
The easy defence for some House officials for the poor attendance last Thursday could be the ongoing budget defence session.
Besides the budget defence session, another reason that has been suggested for the poor attendance was the absence of Speaker Aminu Tambuwal. In his absence, his deputy, Chief Emeka Ihedioha presided. For whatever reason, many members it seems do not seem to flow well with the deputy speaker.
Some perceive him as stuck-up and unapproachable, but that is only an impression that may have arisen from the Deputy Speaker’s personal mannerism, choices, or biases. That should not be a reason for a serious legislator to put off his duties.
Whether they like Ihedioha or not, members should put commitment to duty above every other personal bias.
Seeing that many Nigerians have given up on the executive retracing its steps from unpopular policies and corruption inclined officials, the legislature remains the hope of many Nigerians.
It as such behooves the House and its officials that they guard themselves against allegations of impropriety in character and conduct.
Besides being seen to be punctual and dedicated to duty, the House should also be seen to be above board in the eyes of right thinking members of the public!