Is Abdulmumin Jibrin, who represented Bebeji/Kiru Federal Constituency of Kano State currently a member of the House of Representatives? The answer is ‘yes’ if you check the National Assembly website.
But Mr Jibrin left the House last year after he was sacked by the court and then defeated by Ali Datti-Yako (PDP, Kano) in a rerun election last month.
The listing of Mr Jibrin as a serving member of the House of Representatives on the National Assembly website adds to a string of others who long after losing rerun elections continue to be listed as Nigerian lawmakers by the website of the National Assembly.
Days of scrutinising the website revealed that five sacked members are still paraded as serving members.
Even more curious, a dead man is also listed by the website as a serving member of the House of Representatives. Muhammadu Fagengawo died towards the end of last year but is still the representative of Babura/Garki Federal Constituency of Jigawa State on the National Assembly website.
Those sacked but are still called members on the website include Ogbee Lazarus (PDP, Ebonyi), Ifeanyi Ibezi (APGA, Anambra), and Kingsley Onuwubuariri (PDP, Imo).
Others sacked by the courts but continue to maintain presence on the website are Tata Omar (APC, Bauchi) and Hassan Abubakar (APC, Sokoto).
Earlier this month, House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila inaugurated six lawmakers who won supplementary elections. However, while others have had their names uploaded on the website, the name of Abdullahi Abubakar (PDP, Sokoto) is missing. Instead, Hassan Abubakar of the All Progressives Congress fills the slot for Sokoto North/Sokoto South on the website.
This is the same case for Miriam Onuoha-Ibezim (APC, Imo) whose Isiala Mbano/Okigwe/Onuimo constituency is represented by Kingsley Onuwubuariri on the website.
In Bauchi State, even though Auwal Jatau (PDP, Bauchi) is the sitting representative, Tata Omar is still listed as the name for Zaki Federal Constituency of the state.
Inaugurated since last November, PDP’s Chinedu Ogah is the representative of Ezza South/Ikwo Federal Constituency of Ebonyi State. However, a party mate, Ogbee Lazarus, has maintained that title since on the websire
Another PDP member, Obinna Chidoka of Idemili North/South Federal Constituency of Anambra State, has his slot on the website still being occupied by Ifeanyi Ibezi of APGA.
Perhaps even worse, the website does not recognise at least four members or their constituencies. Nigeria has 360 federal constituencies but the website has only 356 lawmakers and constituency.
The four missing members and constituencies are Sam Okwu of Oju/Obi Federal Constituency (PDP, Benue), Boniface Emerengwa of Ikwerre-Emohua constituency (PDP, Rivers), Ogor Okuweh, former minority leader representing Isoko North/South of Delta State and Oluwarotimi Agunsoye of the APC who represents Kosofe Federal Constituency of Lagos State.
Oju/Obi Federal Constituency is one of the 11 constituencies in Benue State and its representatives is Samson Okwu of the PDP. He replaced APGA’s David Ogewu last November. However, there is no record of either of them on the website.
Also, Ikwerre-Emohua Federal Constituency is missing on the website from the list of federal constituencies in River State. This also means Boniface Emerengwa, representative of the constituency, is absent on the lawmakers’ register.
Also, PDP’s Ogor Okuweh, former minority leader, does not have his name and constituency in Delta Sate, Isoko North/South, on the website.
As it is for the green chamber, so it is for the red chamber.
For this, the National Assembly has often been criticised for the poor management of its website. Delayed updates, missing information, unavailable materials are some of the anomalies that have dogged the website.
For instance, a similar pattern of stale information currently displayed on the website existed during the eighth assembly. Errors such as mismatch of a name to a party and sacked lawmakers retaining their spots on the site are rife.
Also, at the peak of defection in the eighth assembly, profiles of defectors, including the then Senate President Bukola Saraki who also defected, remained not updated for weeks.
The profiles of a former senator, Foster Ogola (PDP, Bayelsa West), has also remained unchanged despite revelations of him forging his PhD certificate. He had calmed he obtained the degree from GMF Christian University, Lagos, in 2012, a university the National Universities Commission (NUC) said it does not recognise.
A Nigerian on Twitter has also called out the handlers of the website for not archiving old bills and the scant results the site returns after an internal search.
Dear @nassnigeria the redesign of your website makes it impossible for one to locate old bills when searching with Google.
While the item is displayed in the search result, on clicking on it, one is redirected to your home page. Also, your website’s internal search is useless.
— Nicholas Ibekwe (@nicholasibekwe) November 5, 2019
With a series of misleading information on the National Assembly website, what ought to be a one-stop-shop for all things related to legislation in the country misses its track.
As a result, information on bills, past and present lawmakers, and others needed for research or academic purposes as well as citizen’s engagement with the legislature is forfeited.
Since 2003, statutory allocations to the National Assembly ranged from ₦23 billion in 2003 to ₦154 billion in 2010. This year, ₦128 billion has been budgeted.
Since 2012, bar 2017, the breakdown of NASS allocations has always been kept secret, so it is hard to know how much has been spent on everything ICT-related over the years.
However, checks by this newspaper into the available breakdown show that not less than ₦1.85 billion was spent on internet access, ICT consulting, IT services and other related subheads by the National Assembly in 2017 alone.
Adejoke Akinsanmi, a spokesperson of the National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), a sister institute of the National Assembly which has a mandate to provide “improved and relevant” information to the public, said the website is undergoing an upgrade.
She also said the ICT arm of the National Assembly manages the site by itself but her institute liaises with them.
“They are not updating on the current website because they are building another one,” she said, unable to tell how long the upgrade has been on.
Also, House spokesperson, Benjamin Kalu, said the stale information on the website is “as result of human error and not deliberate. It will be updated soon.”
He added that although NASS management has been handling the site, the House media committee “will overtime take over the management of any platform that has to do with the image of the House.”