The speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said on Friday that Nigerians need to cooperate with their lawmakers if they desire effective representation in the parliament.
The Speaker said the perennial discord between constituents and their representatives is not sustainable, especially as it is rooted in “misconception and misinformation”.
“There can be no effective representation if an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion exists as to the intentions and rationale for the actions of elected persons,” Mr. Dogara said.
Mr. Dogara spoke at a forum —themed: Bridging the Gap between the Elected Representatives and Their Constituents— organised by Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre and the United Kingdom Department for International Development in Abuja Friday afternoon.
The Speaker said the citizens should bear in mind that every lawmaker is working towards advancing the situation of their constituencies.
“The desire of elected representatives to make an impact in their constituencies is borne out of the need for service.
“No elected person worth his salt would be satisfied if he is unable to point out at the end of the day, what he has been able to accomplish within the period of his mandate,” Mr. Dogara said.
The speaker’s comments appeared aimed at reassuring a Nigerian public that is often critical of the scandal-plagued National Assembly.
Mr. Dogara was recently accused of introducing fake projects into the 2016 budget in a multibillion naira scam, an allegation he denied.
Speaking Friday, he acknowledged the disdain Nigerians have for him and his colleagues, and promised to make amends by breaking away from the past arrogance that characterised the conduct of the lawmakers.
“It seems to us that over the years the legislature has adopted the policy of non-response when its activities are called to question,” Mr. Dogara said. “Most often a simple explanation is what is required.”
Still, the Speaker blamed most of the backlash against the parliament on the “ignorant” and “mischief makers”, challenging the media to intervene by protecting the National Assembly’s image from being defaced further.
“The legislature is the most maligned arm of government even though it works very hard to fulfil its constitutional mandate,” Mr. Dogara said. “It, therefore, behooves the media and civil society organisations to step up their work of information dissemination and informed appraisal of activities of elected representatives.”
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