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Gbaja: Collapse of LG administration forces lawmakers to perform municipal duties

Gbaja: Collapse of LG administration forces lawmakers to perform municipal duties
November 27
22:18 2023

Femi Gbajabiamila, chief of staff (CoS) to President Bola Tinubu, says Nigerians rely on lawmakers to provide amenities that are supposed to be the responsibilities of local government administration.

Gbajabiamila spoke in Abuja on Monday at a capacity-building retreat organised for chairpersons of standing committees of the house of representatives.

He said the legislators perform duties outside their constitutional mandates which has put undue financial burden on them.

“The collapse of local government administrations across the country has created a situation where constituents look to their legislative representatives to fill the gap and perform municipal functions in their various communities,” he said.

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“It has become the legislator’s responsibility to cater to every constituency need, from primary healthcare to basic education services, from maintenance of markets to support for rural cooperatives and provision of critical social infrastructure.

“The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria did not envisage such a role for the legislator, and it did not make provisions for the legislator to perform in this capacity.

“Yet, political reality requires the legislator to meet these constituency demands by whatever means.”

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Gbajabiamila said one of the consequences of the situation is that legislators, particularly senators and members of the house of representatives are “forced to spend more time seeking and pursuing resource opportunities to meet constituency demands”.

The former speaker of the house of representatives said a national conversation must be held to address “this state of affairs” and steps taken to “free our legislators”. 

He said even those who “consider themselves well-informed” about politics and governance, do not understand the legislature’s role.

“At best, there is a recognition that parliament has a responsibility to make laws for the good governance of the nation,” he said.

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“However, most do not recognise and understand the realities of resource availability and the imperatives of policy, politics, culture and tradition that impose limitations on parliament.”

Gbajabiamila said lawmakers shouldn’t be evaluated using metrics unrelated to legislative mandate.

“Those of you who have just recently joined must be coming to terms with the fact that most of your constituents cannot correctly differentiate between your function and that of a local government chairman or the governor, for that matter,” he told the lawmakers.

He asked the legislators to use their oversight function to ensure government resources are used efficiently and effectively for the public good and that the exercise of executive power is within the constraints defined by law.

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Gbajabiamila advised the parliament to operate a “standardised template” that would help lawmakers to know the nature and quality of information required to produce an actionable report.

Gbajabiamila urged members of the national assembly to “expose” Nigerians to the “inner workings” of the legislature with a focus on legislative output, such as the publication of oversight and investigative reports.

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