How godfatherism, rotational candidacy affects lawmaking in Nigeria – Dogara

House of Reps Speaker, Yakubu Dogara

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has lamented the high rate of turnover of legislators in the National Assembly.

This, he attributed to reasons including godfatherism and the clamour for rotational representation at the expense of quality legislation and the high cost of training invested in members, once elected.

The speaker expressed these concerns in an interview with NIGERIA NOW Magazine in Abuja.

“Obviously, there’s no way one would not be bothered about the rate of turnover of legislators It is an issue that is being discussed across board, but so many factors are responsible and it is based on the practice of democracy in Nigeria.

“In some cases, some people have acquired some dominance in politics, they can just sit down and decide that they don’t like your face or that you have some kind of competence that is challenging to them, so they want to do away with you completely and eliminate you from politics.

“In some cases, it is based on the local arrangement where a constituency consists of 2 or 3 local governments and each local government would want its turn to be represented at the National Assembly. So, the pressure is always there to claim turns at representation.”

“As soon as you send someone for four years, the agitation from the other local government is that it is their turn coming, so at the end of the day, you then have this high rate of turnover in the National Assembly and it is not helping the system. Any system that doesn’t have the capacity to retain what is known as institutional memory is doomed, and in that process we have had well-trained and competent lawmakers where Government and National Assembly have expended huge resources in training and developing them, they are retired after four years when they are just getting really well developed, then they bring new sets of members who are trained for another four years and then asked to go back home.”

While explaining the effects of the loss of institutional memory, he said: “It doesn’t matter whether you are the best lawyer or made a First Class in Law; when you come to parliament you’ll discover that even professors have been lost on the floor, you don’t hear their voices, you don’t even know that they are professors, sometimes you won’t even believe that we have professors. So, whatever it is that is your profession or qualification, when you come to the National Assembly, you must wait first, there are so many things you must learn. If you are a fast learner; maybe within 2 years you may be able to catch up. In some cases, however, it takes members more than 4 years to finish learning the ropes.”

Mr. Dogara also said that retaining lawmakers would help strengthen oversight and eliminate what he referred to as “petty squabbles” during plenary, and that “if Parliament itself must endure and function efficiently, we have to find a way of retaining majority of the members every four years.”

“You can imagine if some of the experts we have now come back, like say we have 80 per cent return rate. You can imagine, you don’t have to lecture anybody, you don’t have to waste so much resources to train people, they are already trained, they are ready to hit the ground running from day one, but that’s not the case in the National Assembly where you bring new members, train them for four years, invest in them and then you retire them. So, to be candid it is something that worries me, because I know that if we improve the retention rate of members, we would improve the quality of the membership and the quality of the legislation that comes out, improve the quality of debate that comes out of the National Assembly, but unfortunately that is not the case at the moment.”


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  • share Idea

    Mr Dogara, no need to conduct NASS election then so that we will have institutional memory…Nigeria we hail thee

    There is what is known as Apprenticeship, which is common in every field. To me, the major problem with Nigerian situation is that people just dabble into any areas that they perceive that they can get quick money without learning the robe.

    If we have a situation where special adviser to a NASS member is voted into parliament, there is no way, it will take the person more than 6 months to hit the ground running except if the special adviser was just making up the numbers while serving as special adviser.

    We need more of career politicians and very few accidental politicians that are foisted on the masses by godfathers & ethnicity

  • Nkem

    Mr. Dogara, are you so dumb or you are just pretending that you do not know the root cause of “rotational candidacy” and “god-fatherism” in ‘elections’ into the National Assembly? If you truly don’t know, let me help you with a few answers:

    = Jumbo pay for lawmakers without accountability or any responsibility on the part of the legislooter
    = Secret budget and expenditure of Nass members which is not open to public scrutiny
    = Miraculous transformation of legislators from paupers of yesterday to owners of fat bank accounts, sprawling mansions
    and properties all over the world within just six months of being elected.

    Conclusion: Which community would allow only you to stay there forever without giving another person the opportunity to go and chop his own? Which godfather will put his money in a venture if the NASS was not so profitable?

    • ijelejames

      You forgot budget padding by him mr dogara. Dogara is a shameless looter.

  • Suleiman Alatise

    Wayo man! You want to stay put after driving others away, na lie o, you can speak all your grammar from today till tomorrow.

  • amazing2012

    You are part of the problem!