By Emeka Ozumba
It is the season of comings and goings in political districts across Nigeria, particularly in Anambra State which just ushered a new Governor into office. Interestingly, Anambra is one of those states with a unique gubernatorial election cycle. Aside choosing the next President with the rest of the country, the state is also engrossed in the search for worthy legislators who will bear its symbol of the “Light of the Nation” with pride beginning 2023.
As expected, many men and women in Anambra State have expressed interest and are crisscrossing their legislative districts in consultation as they jostle for nomination to contest as choice lawmakers at the state and national levels.
However, a cursory survey of the motley crowd of aspirants shows that while some possess the requisite credentials and are genuinely motivated to serve, some are driven by vaulting ambition and the assurances of big war-chests, and yet others are on a mission to truncate, at all cost, the quest of perceived opponents to access the hallowed chambers. In other words, once they can stop the realisation of the ambition of the objects of their envy, they would have succeeded. These cannot all be about law making!
The legislature is a co-equal branch in the three arms of government. Indeed, it is said to be democracy’s worthiest pursuit. As a strong body charged with the onerous duty of midwifing laws, the legislature deserves the time, attention and dedication of every candidate who, as a norm, is expected to achieve an understanding with the citizens they aspire to represent. Unfortunately, this is hardly the case, as most constituencies tend to be active only during electioneering campaigns.
But who is an ideal legislator, and how can we identify those adequately equipped to excel on the assignment?
The Nigerian 1999 Constitution, as amended, vests legislative powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in a National Assembly, consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives, which has power to make laws for the peace, order and good governance for the Federation. The state Assemblies equally legislate on state laws.
Beyond the Constitutional provisions, an ideal legislator is expected to be innovative and skilled at working the power centres and lobby across the aisle. Another attribute is that the individual must be industrious and diligent in and out of the chambers; should be humble, imbued with empathy and above all, work tirelessly to make representative government work at all times.
The electorate must inquire and extract from every aspirant what constitutes their rescue plans or remedy in security and economic terms at the federal, state and local council constituency levels. The aspirants and eventual candidates must be made to understand that the politics of the day has gone past the usual claims couched in high sounding clichés like “quality representation”, “divine mandate”, “most qualified”, etc. Such no longer excite the electorate.
Unfortunately, the inclusion of Constituency Projects as part of the remits of legislators has, since that Obasanjo era’s contraption, confused many ill-equipped wannabe lawmakers into donning the toga of pseudo-executives in search of brick and mortar to be shared as empowerment to constituents. This is at great cost to real law making based on sound argument, logic and sustained progressive thinking.
Without doubt, the law maker Nigeria needs today must be well-informed and able to use legislative instruments to bring solution to the multifarious challenges confronting the nation. Indeed, Nigeria has gone beyond the crossroads, the situation is dire and requires urgency and collective push for rescue at both the executive and legislative levels. It is therefore imperative that the electorate ask the right questions and make the right choices, else the country tilts beyond the precipice.
In the maze of the “comings and goings” and the suffocating privation, many are already falling for bread and butter, and this often leads to wrong choices. It is strongly advised that care should be the watchword to enable us identify the well-groomed, vocal, experienced and prepared candidates. Anything otherwise will hasten the transition of our respective constituencies into worse states.
Ozumba is Managing Consultant at Ozion Limited (Political Strategists & Perception Managers).