IN every election circle, there is a high turnover in the National Assembly whereby experienced lawmakers lose election. According to experts, this affects the work of the legislators as the new ones have to learn unlike if the former ones were back to continue and it should not be so. Perhaps, but people don’t see it from this angle.
Some are even eager to give the example of American democracy where legislators serve many terms, spending thirty or forty years representing their constituencies.
The American and other western countries’ democracy is more of service to the people, but in the Nigerian case, it is more about becoming rich overnight. That is apparently why they don’t care about keeping one person ‘forever’ at the National Assembly, while he and his family live a grandiose life style.
If our own representation is not monetised and they live like ordinary people with moderate earnings commensurate with salaries, there may not be the rush to get elected at all cost. It would never be a do or die affair, in fact, some would fight tooth and nail to avoid being elected, and only those that have a passion to serve the people would come forward to present themselves.
“Besides, while quality representation is thrown away so that other people would get the largess that comes with the job, poor representation may take place where your representative may not make any impact. At the end, he is likely to be forgotten at the National Assembly whiling away his time for the next four years to bid for re-election.”
Therefore, when the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said several members of the 9th House lost elections in their constituencies because the voters focused more on religion and ethnicity instead of the performance of the lawmakers, he is also correct.
According to him, the voters did not consider the performance of the lawmakers either on the floor of the House or in their constituencies.
He also said while many lost at the general election, some lost at the primary election, blaming indirect primaries in the Electoral Act. He said their acceptance at their constituencies was not put to test. Gbajabiamila, who won his re-election in Surulere 1 Federal Constituency of Lagos State on 25 February, said this on Tuesday while speaking with members of the House of Representatives Press Corps at the National Assembly Complex.
In any event, in areas where there are a mixture of different ethnic groups and religions, these factors no doubt would play a part, especially in this year’s elections where they are elevated to high heavens even where they were previously not thought to matter.
However, in areas where ethnicity and religion are not factors in determining election outcome, because the society is homogenous, people don’t care about quality representation no matter how good a lawmaker you are.
In such a society, a comparison is being made of a senator who lost an election to a new person in social media with the question; “Who would you rather have as your representative?”
The senator that lost may definitely have more experience; he may be better educated, has more exposure and did well as chairman of a committee, yet some would not see it this way.
In fact, these advantages may make people to go against him, because they know about the jumbo salary even though the National Assembly members try several times to downplay it.
So, they would say; is he the only one qualified enough, others should be given a chance as well. Or there would be grumbling of one place dominating the senatorial zone as such, it should go round.
And it still comes down to money in the eyes of the ordinary man, he may not appreciate that they work hard to make laws. He may not even understand the laws, what he wants to see is roads and schools.
The lawmakers don’t execute projects, their work is law-making, but in order to get elected, some make promises they have no way of fulfilling. Some influence constituency projects to their people, while some, out of their jumbo salary, empower youth with motorcycles or tricycles, women with sewing machines, grinding machines among others.
Besides, while quality representation is thrown away so that other people would get the largess that comes with the job, poor representation may take place where your representative may not make any impact. At the end, he is likely to be forgotten at the National Assembly whiling away his time for the next four years to bid for re-election.
In this regard, even though our society is not like that of western democracies and ethnicity and religion would continue to play a role in our elections, de-emphasising the monetary aspect by moderating it would set the way for seeking the job for service.