By Helen Ovbiagele, Woman Editor
Who can blame Nigerians who don’t believe there’s transparency in the screening done by our lawmakers? We’re famous for the ‘Nigerian factor’ and are good at fixing things, so, one would be expecting too much if we think this wouldn’t extend to the screening of public officers by our lawmakers.
After all, they’re part of us and are bound to exhibit the traits of Nigerians. There’s no guarantee that those who condemn their attitude will shun that attitude if they become legislators. But the point is, should we allow such a thing to continue to prevail? Must we always be known for it? Most readers who wrote in are not shocked by our lawmakers’ attitude, rather they’re saddened that personal/political interests are placed high above national interests.
Personally, I think our legislators relish the power their positions bring them, but many of them don’t realize that in the democratic world, this comes with heavy sense of responsibility and accountability to the nation. It’s time they realized this, if for nothing else, for their own credibility and self-respect.
“Madam, thank you for that brilliant piece on the screening of public officers by our lawmakers; Sunday Vanguard June 12, Vista Woman. Well, let’s hope that this time round, screening would be done in a more responsible manner. I’m hearing for the first time those words, ‘take a bow and go!’ Like you, I’m perplexed.
What do the lawmakers mean by that? Don’t they realize the implication, and that people would believe that the screening is a sham, and those nominees were on the floor of the House for their appointments by the president/governor/local government chairman, to be rubber-stamped? That wouldn’t do the legislators’ reputation any good. Is that how they want us to see them at work? Should such people have our confidence? They should abandon this childish and silly attitude if they want the world to respect them, and our nation. – Uche, Lagos.”
“Helen, many of our lawmakers don’t know what they stand for, otherwise they wouldn’t coin those words ‘take a bow and go’ to use for nominees for public offices. Do they think they’re there for fun? How can mature people behave like that? Is that part of democracy? This display of immaturity is without equal in a civilized and transparent setting. Let’s hope one or two of them across the country and the various Houses, would get to read your write-up and take the message back to their colleagues, and they would desist from such idiocy. – Patrick, Onitsha.”
“This is an important matter you just wrote on. Sometimes, the utterances and behaviour of our lawmakers are irritating and shameful. Are they not watching legislators of other countries on cable television? This is the beginning of failure. God will help us. – Freeborn Oserogha.”
“Mrs. Ovbiagele, I’m surprised that you expected transparent behaviour from our lawmakers. Do you know how they came to be in these Houses? Were all of them really elected, or were there some cases of ‘take a bow & go’ factor which ensured that, win or lose, they got into the House? Only people with such dubious background would say those words to nominees for public offices. Where is Nigeria heading to, with characters like theirs? – Payne, Akure.”
“Our lawmakers are too loyal to their parties at the expense of the country. They see their party nominees as qualified, irrespective of their pedigree. There was the case of a former minister that was rejected by the Senate two times, but was re-presented by the then President who had nominated him, for clearance. So, our leaders need attitudinal change in their approach to issues of legislation to avoid ‘take a bow & go’. This would ensure good governance. – Kola Yusuf, Ibadan.”
“Madam, Hilary Clinton, the former First Lady of the United States of America was not only thoroughly grilled by the U.S. Legislators, her husband, Bill, former two-term president, had to give assurance that his role as global ambassador would not interfere with US’ policies and his wife’s duties, if she were appointed Foreign Secretary. There was no order from above or allegiance of her political party, and she was not forced on the legislators. We should borrow a leaf from the Americans in that respect and reject ‘take a bow and go’ when screening nominees for public offices. What the legislators should look out for are people who would perform and move the nation forward. – Edwin, Kaduna.”
“Mrs Ovbiagele, there’s no harm if the president or governor, or local government chairperson, or a political party nominate candidates for the various Houses to screen for political appointments.
This is done even in the most democratic setting around the world. But irrespective of the source of the nominees’ nomination, members of the Houses are obliged to do their job; which is to screen the nominees properly for suitability to the position for which they had been nominated. The country does not belong solely to the president, governor or local government chairman, so their nominees cannot be told to ‘take a bow and go’ without being asked the relevant questions concerning the positions they were being screened for. This should be done by the legislators without any grudge or malice against the nominees.
Their job is to see that they approve the right people to serve the nation. Like you mentioned in your piece, the legislators are choosing people who will render public service and help move the nation forward. The exercise should be done seriously and transparently. That would earn them respect from us. – Thanks, Yinka, Yaba, Lagos.”
“Madam, I don’t care who’s nominated by whom for screening. All I want is that right people should be chosen for these key positions, so that they can make intelligent and people-friendly decisions which would give us a better quality life in this country. For this to happen, nominees should be thoroughly grilled for us, about what they hope to bring to their positions if confirmed. The public and the lawmakers and the political parties would note their responses down, so that if confirmed, we have points to refer to, in order to find out if the person is performing to satisfaction. On their part, public officers should cry out if there’s sabotage hampering their performance. Citizens of this country have a right to know what they’re doing concerning issues in their ministries. Thanks, madam. – Cyril, Abakaliki.”
“Mrs. Helen, if only you know what pressure there is in politics, you would understand why there’s ‘take a bow and go’ in some cases when nominees for public offices are being screened. Many politicians give all they are worth to ensure victory for their political parties; either in terms of huge financial support, intensive campaigns, etc. Some may not seek elective positions themselves, but they all have to be compensated in one way or the other. If not they directly, their children, relatives or friends.
Now, some legislators, for one reason or the other, may not want certain nominees to be confirmed. To ensure that there’s plain-sailing, they have to know the sponsor of nominees. So, they know before hand, those who must be confirmed. The mystery is why they need to shout ‘take a bow and go’ at those ones.
The sensible thing to do is to grill all candidates properly in order to choose the best. If the best happens to be in the president/governor/head of council’s list’, all well and good. Nominees who don’t measure up should not be confirmed, and their sponsors should be told why. – Stanley, Abuja.”