Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Over 150 Reps lose re-election bids

The House of Representatives on Tuesday described as disturbing, the high number of lawmakers, who failed to win the primaries of their various political parties.

“The high turnover  is the bane of the development of our parliament,” the House spokesman, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, told The PUNCH.

Findings by The PUNCH showed that over 150 members of the House did not make it in the primaries.

Investigations revealed that while a “negligible” number won the ticket of their parties to contest either a Senate seat or a governorship seat, the majority of the over 150 lost the primaries.

Among the few, who won to contest other offices in 2015 are the Speaker, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, who would be contesting the governorship seat in Sokoto State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, and his Deputy, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha, who won the Imo State PDP governorship ticket.

Others are the Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Mr. Solomon Olamilekan, Mr. John Enoh   and   Uche Ekwunife, who will be vying for Senate seats in the 2014 elections.

However, The PUNCH learnt that more casualties would likely be recorded in the main election in February next year.

“Flowing from a trend that has been noticed since 1999, it is expected that many more members will bid the House goodbye at the close of this term in May 2015,” a National Assembly source told The PUNCH in Abuja on Tuesday.

It will be recalled that after the 2011 polls, only slightly above 100 members of the House out of 360 returned from the 2007 set.

Speaking on the development, Mohammed expressed concern that it did not allow the legislature to grow.

He noted that so long as the legislature did not grow, democracy would continue to face challenges in Nigeria.

He stated that in other climes, the growth of democracy was assessed based on the capacity building in the legislature “because this is the core of democracy.”

Mohammed observed that the high turnover of members also had other implications like huge budgets for manpower training of “freshers” every four years.

He said, “It is like going backwards every time there is an election. New people come in; you have to train afresh to let them understand how the system works.

“As they are about to master it, you send them away and bring in another set.

“What this means is that we are not allowing the system to grow.”

The House spokesman cited two major factors responsible for the frequent turnover of lawmakers, saying “high expectations from the constituents” was one.

He said the second factor was the “zoning or rotational arrangements” in some localities and political parties.

These, according to him, do not recognise legislative competence as a reason for returning a lawmaker “even if that member is adjudged to be a performer.”

On the first factor, Mohammed explained, has to do with the fact   that most voters still did not understand the role of legislators in a democracy.

According to him, many people believe that lawmakers also function like those in the executive arm of government, who are expected to attend to all their needs.

He added, “There are high expectations which put undue pressure on members.

“There has to be an orientation to make people appreciate the fact that legislators merely facilitate the process of governance, they are not the implementation agencies

On the second factor, he said ordinarily, spending more years in the legislature should count as the first consideration for re-election.

He lamented that this was not the case in some localities and among the political parties.

Mohammed spoke further, “There is zoning arrangement in some places or rotation as they call it.

“What this means is that the incumbent just has to leave the House to give way to another person.

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